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RIVALS SERIES: A primer on the Armada-Almont rivalry, our Week 6 stop

By: MATTHEW B. MOWERY, October 1, 2019, 7:16 pm

The Week 6 edition of the STATE CHAMPS! Rivals Series brings us to the small towns in the southern end of Michigan’s Thumb region, where Armada and Almont will play on Friday.

Armada High’s most famous alumnus, Hall of Fame broadcaster Dick Enberg, was one of 33 seniors in the graduating class of 1952, leading the Tigers at quarterback in a 14-12 win over the Raiders the previous fall. 

The Tigers wouldn’t win again in the series until 1960, when coach Ed Wuestenberg took over the Armada program, and ripped off wins in 14 of the next 16 meetings. Inducted into the Macomb County Coaches Hall of Fame in its inaugural class, Wuestenberg won eight titles in the old Southern Thumb Activities Association (1961-62, 1966, 1972, 1974, 1979, 1983, 1986). 

Wuestenberg led the Tigers to the playoffs in his final season — losing 31-14 to Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker in the Class C regionals — in 1986, and beat Almont in Week 8 that year.

The Raiders won the next four in the rivalry, and outside of a three-game stretch in the early 2000s, have controlled the series since then, winning 23 of 32 meetings since then (not including a 1999 victory they’d later have to forfeit). 

Almont leads the rivalry 40-28 since 1950, and has won the last 14 meetings. Armada’s last win was a 55-2 victory in 2004, the last playoff season for the Tigers. Both teams were in the STAA until 2001, moving over to the Blue Water Area Conference in 2002.

Below is a primer, looking at the two towns and programs:

Armada, Michigan

County: Macomb

Incorporated in the 1860s

Area: 0.76 square miles

1870 population: 494

2017 population: 1,733

First schools were in 1830s; one-room schoolhouses consolidated during the 1940s

ARMADA TIGERS

Playoffs: 3 (1986, 2000, 2004)

BWAC titles: 1 (2004)

STAA titles (since 1950): 8 (1961-62, 1966, 1972, 1974, 1979, 1983, 1986)

District titles: none

Regional titles: none

Semifinal appearances: none

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Almont, Michigan

County: Lapeer

Originally named Bristol, then platted as Newburg in 1836, was renamed Almont in 1846.

Area: 1.42 square miles

1880 population: 837

2017 population: 2,801

Union School built in 1867, burned in 1881.

Almont HS built in 1884, burned in 1927.

ALMONT RAIDERS

Playoffs: 15 (1977, 1996, 2006-08, 2010-18)

BWAC titles: 6 (2006-08, 2010, 2014, 2018)

STAA titles (since 1950): 8 (1970-71, 1977, 1982, 1984, 1988, 1990, 1996)

District titles: 3 (2008, 2011, 2014)

Regional titles: 2 (2011, 2014)

Semifinal appearances: 2 (2011, 2014)

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The RIVALS SERIES to DATE:

Week 3 — Ludington 45, Manistee 14 [EPISODE I] [EPISODE II] [EPISODE III] [GAME STORY]

Week 4 — The War by the Shore: St. Joseph 22, Stevensville Lakeshore 14 [VIDEO] [GAME STORY]

Week 5 — Leslie 32, Stockbridge 20 [VIDEO] [GAME STORY]

Upcoming stops:

Week 7 — Otsego at Plainwell

Week 9 — Midland at Midland Dow