Top 30 Michigan high school football state finals performances over the last 30 years

Thanksgiving weekend is just not the same without high school football in Michigan.

This is the time of the year when we are supposed to be congratulating the state champions and reveling in some great memories created at Ford Field.

But with football playoff games on hold until at least Dec. 15, we’re left craving some high school football.

To help satiate your football appetite, MLive is looking back on the 30 best state championship performances in the last 30 years. With far more than 30 great individual performances to consider when combing through results from 1990 onward, this list was not easy to put together. A lot of subjective judgement went into the list too, including a player’s impact on a game or how they stacked up in the Michigan High School Athletic Association record books.

Without further delay, here are the top 30 individual state championship performances from the last 30 years.

MHSAA Football Finals: Grand Rapids West Catholic vs. River Rouge - Nov. 28, 2015

River Rouge’s Antoine Burgess (6) runs up the field in the first quarter of their 2015 MHSAA Division 5 state final game against Grand Rapids West Catholic at Ford Field in Detroit, Saturday, November 28, 2015. (Mike Mulholland | Mike MulhollandMike Mulholland

30. Antoine Burgess has arguably the best effort in a loss

Year: 2015, Division 5

Back in the 2015 D5 title game, River Rouge went toe-to-toe with a mighty Grand Rapids West Catholic team and lost, 40-34. However, it was a loss that should be forgotten because River Rouge quarterback Antoine Burgess gave on of the best championship game performances ever.

Finishing the game with 354 passing yards and 3 touchdowns on 13-for-19 passing, Burgess also had 70 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns. In the end, his 424 yards of total offense ranked second all-time in state championships efforts.

29. Kicker Ben Fee is key weapon in for St. Mary’s

Year: 2016, Division 3

In Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 29-28 win over Muskegon in the 2016 D3 title game, kicker Ben Fee shined in a big way. Usually, the only time kickers get the spotlight is if they kick a game-winning field goal. Although Fee did not do that in this instance, his record-setting day made a massive difference in the victory.

Fee became just the second kicker in state history to convert three field goals in a state championship game, going 3-for-3. After hitting a 32-yard field goal and a 35-yarder in the first half, Fee knocked in a 49-yard kick to give St. Mary’s a 23-21 lead with 4:47 to play. The 49-yard kick set a new championship distance record.

28. Thomas Lieto returns a pair of punts for Monroe SMCC

Year: 2005, Division 6

Although Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central lost the 2005 Division 6 state title, 31-21, to Kingsley, it was not from a lack of effort from Thomas Lieto.

Lieto scored three total touchdowns for SMCC in the loss, including becoming the only player in state history to return two punts for touchdowns in a state finals

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