You go to the Friday night football game at your home field and you see some of your old high school football teammates. And then, maybe you see a couple of guys from a few years before, or a few years after. And then the talk begins.Which class had the best football team?
Who had the best season?
That’s what we are here to figure out – the All-Time No. 1 team in the E-10 era for Battle Creek area schools (small school division).
We have had the E-10 rankings at the Enquirer for 15 years now. The E-10 is a weekly ranking we do on our Prep Gameday page at the Enquirer, listing the top 10 high school football teams each week, regardless of class.
To mark the ’15-year anniversary’ we are going to have special All-Time E-10 rankings throughout the football season. Each week, we will rank the top 10 football teams over the past 15 years for the city and local teams in the Enquirer coverage area.
The era we are talking about is 1997 up to last season – 2011. A small sample size – but we do this for two reasons. That’s basically how long I have been here, so I can back up these All-Time rankings. And it goes with our theme of 15 years of E-10.
This week we are tackling the teams from the area schools (non city) from the Battle Creek Enquirer coverage area in what we are calling the small school division – enrollment of 400 or less.
When you are talking small-school football in the Battle Creek area there is one undisputed king – Climax-Scotts. And when you are talking about the best Climax-Scotts team in the E-10 era, you have to start with the squad that won it all – the 2004 Panthers.
Only one small-school area team has won a state title in the E-10 era and the 2004 Climax-Scotts team did it with flair – going 14-0 and putting up a school-record 632 points in the process over the season.
With the fullhouse wing-T offense running at full capacity, Climax-Scotts and a stable of running backs rumbled its way to a Division 8 title at the Pontiac Silverdome.
In that championship final, Climax-Scotts dominated Crystal Falls Forest Park, 42-8, as the Panthers held their opponents to their lowest point total of the season.
Led by Climax-Scotts coach Kevin Langs, his son Tyler Langs scored the first touchdown of the championship game just 100 seconds into the contest on a 56-yard run and the onslaught continued from there.
Kevin Langs was named Coach of the Year for the state that season. The Panthers also had a dominant lineman in 290-pound Chuck Black, who earned All-State honors as he helped block for a talented backfield that included Tyler Langs and Nick Ludwig.
When you have a Climax-Scotts team that won 10 or more games eight times during the E-10 era, the Panthers are going to pop up a few times on this all-time list.
In this case, Climax-Scotts comes on the list right away at No. 2 as the 2007 team almost repeated the run the No. 1-ranked state championship 2004 squad had. The 2007 team advanced all the way to the state semifinals, one win away from a state championship appearance.
The 2007 team scored the second-most points in school history with 560 and went 9-0 in the regular season. In the first three rounds of the playoffs, Climax-Scotts outscored its opponents 114-43. The Panthers’ dream run that season ended with a tight 40-36 loss to Fulton-Middleton. In that game, the Panthers had the lead in the final minutes with a trip to Ford Field on the line, only to see it fall away when Fulton-Middleton scored with 48 seconds remaining.
Coming at the No. 3 spot is the 2001 Union City team that went 11-1 on the season. One of Eric Tundevold’s top teams in his long tenure at Union City, those Chargers went undefeated on the season, knocked off Olivet and Maple Valley in the playoffs, before falling in the third round to Hudson in the regional final.
The 2005 Homer team comes in at No. 4 and also advanced to the regional final. The Trojans went undefeated in the regular season and finished 11-1 overall, scoring an impressive 592 points on the season, before falling to Sand Creek in the third round of the playoffs, 40-18.
Best of the Rest
Making a deep run in the playoffs was the 2011 Climax-Scotts team advanced to the regional round itself before losing to Mendon, 35-10. What has these Panthers slipping down to No. 5 in the rankings is a regular-season loss to Decatur and an abbreviated schedule, as C-S only played eight regular season games – earning one victory by forfeit.
That same season, Union City also put up a season to remember as the 2011 Chargers went undefeated in the regular season and finished 10-1 overall to find themselves at No. 6 on this all-time list.
Athens hasn’t had a lot of football success recently, having won no more than five games in a season since 2001. But in 2000, the Indians had one of their finest seasons in school history and went 10-1 to grab the No. 7 spot on this list.
The 2009 Bronson team is our No. 8 team as that Vikings group won the most games in school history and went 9-3 on the season, falling to a tough Constantine team in the regional final, 28-14.
That same season, the 2009 Colon team also set a school record for wins and shows up at No. 9 on our list. Colon had a season to remember by going 10-2 and advancing to the regional final, losing to Muskegon Catholic Central, 35-21.
The final spot on our small-school all-time E-10 list goes to the 2010 Bellevue team that went to the playoffs for the first time in school history and finished 8-3 overall, losing to North Adams-Jerome in the second round of the playoffs.
The fans agree with our E-10 rankings as the 2004 Climax-Scotts team finished with the most votes in the Enquirer’s online poll as the mysterious team called ‘other’ finished second.
Next up for our All-Time E-10 series is the list of lists. We will rank all the schools in the area, regardless of location and class – naming the top 10 teams overall.