Trio of area schools in 1st list released by MHSAA for football playoffs

MARQUETTE – Three area schools are on the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s 11-man football list with three or more wins that was announced in an email from the MHSAA on Tuesday.

The list, put in order of school enrollment from largest to smallest, is used as a weekly guide starting from this point in the season to show how the playoffs might shape up.

A total of 214 teams are on the list, while 256 will make the playoffs. The MHSAA has been able to guarantee that all 6-3 teams – or 5-3 for schools playing eight games – get a playoff spot since the doubling of playoff teams started in 1999.

The MHSAA adds enough 5-4 and 4-4 teams to round out the field to 256 before separating the schools into eight equal-sized groups based solely on enrollment.

Breaking the current three-plus-win list of 214 into eight groups nets just shy of 27 schools per division.

So Negaunee (4-0) as listed with the 143rd largest enrollment would remain as a larger Division 6 team, though not particularly close to moving up or down a division.

Gwinn (3-1) is listed with the 177th largest enrollment, putting it fairly close to the middle of Division 7.

And Newberry (4-0) is listed with the 202nd largest enrollment, almost in the middle of Division 8.

At 2-1, Ishpeming didn’t make the three-win list, but coach Jeff Olson’s Hematites are not only a three-time state champion the past four years, but have made the playoffs for 14 consecutive seasons.

The Hematites, who have already had their off week, will play eight games this season, meaning a 5-3 record gets them into the playoffs.

But while each of those playoff appearances has been in Division 7, it appears this year Ishpeming would be going in as a Division 8 qualifier.

The MHSAA website reveals the Hematites’ football enrollment as 239 students, which on the three-win list would put IHS between No. 196 Ottawa Lake Whiteford and No. 197 Breckenridge. And with 27 teams per division, the cutoff between Divisions 7 and 8 would be at enrollments of the schools at Nos. 187 and 188.

Another team from the Upper Peninsula worth mentioning is Menominee, which at No. 135, would be right on the edge between Division 5 and 6 and slightly more likely to be in Division 6.

In eight-player football, the MHSAA places into the playoffs the 16 teams with the highest playoff point totals of the 48 eligible. Playoff points come from the traditional formula used since the mid-1970s.

Superior Central and Baraga, both with 1-3 records, have some catching up to do if they want to get in. The Cougars are 32nd with 11.917 points while the Vikings are 34th with 11.417. This week, Marion is in 16th place with a 3-1 record and 31.167 points.

Six U.P. teams would currently make it – No. 1 in playoff points North Central (4-0), No. 3 Cedarville (4-0), No. 5 Engadine (4-0), No. 9 Forest Park (3-1), No. 11 Rapid River (3-1) and No. 15 Stephenson (3-1).

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is