Flint Southwestern 1976 Football Team With:
Jim Buterakos, Ike Charles, and Rodney Graham
October 12, 2022
They didn’t win the Michigan Class A State Championship. But that’s only because the poorly conceived new Michigan playoff system didn’t give them a chance. However, few who saw them play doubt that they were the best high school football team in Flint history.
Doubters can turn to the following facts:
The team finished undefeated with a perfect 9-0 record in the tough Saginaw Valley Conference
Ranked #1 in Michigan in all polls
Ranked #4 in all of America
Booker Moore set city records as a running back with 21 touchdowns, 138 points and 1,263 rushing yards
Wide Receiver Rodney Feaster set city records with 44 catches, 906 yards and 14 TDs
Quarterback Jim Buterakos set a city record with a 61.9-percent pass completion mark
Reggie Mitchell set the city mark for yards per carry with a 13.6 average (and he was primarily a receiver!)
Those very players remain among the best the City or Valley have ever produced. Their coach Dar Christansen set a standard that was never equaled, winning the city 7 straight years.
It was a superior program that churned out college and pro talent in a prolific way. The only high school team rightfully mentioned in the same breath as this Colt squad would be the 1973 Saginaw Arthur Hill juggernaut. But even that team lacked the speed and depth of the ’76 Colts. I saw them both play and my money would be on the Colts.
But still…no title.
That’s because the flawed 2-year-old playoff format allowed only four teams per class into the postseason, and one per region.
Southwestern’s 9-0 record was matched by Midland Dow, and the Chargers edged out the Colts by 2.5 points in Region 4.
Dow, who had just quit the Saginaw Valley League the year before, was ranked seventh in the AP poll and dubbed “Southwestern’s proxy in the playoffs” by one Flint Journal article, won both its playoff games 34-27 over Lincoln Park and 36-27 over Farmington Hills Harrison – and claimed the Class A championship.
The frustrated Colts, one of America’s top four teams, were forced to watch from the sidelines. Tears and sadness punctuated their last game of an undefeated season, a blowout win. It haunts them to this day.
Joining Fish in the Aquarium to discuss the team and growing up and playing in Flint, are three key members of that squad: Quarterback Jim Buterakos, Ike Charles, and Rodney Graham.
It’s sports, history, and the tale of a legendary stolen opportunity that these three men, now in their 60’s, still feel deeply.
The 76 Colts are in the Aquarium and it’s an absolutely outstanding Flintstone
Newspaper press clippings: