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'Something to be proud of': Martin celebrates first state football title in 35 years

Martin High School beat Merrill 74-24 in Marquette on Saturday.

MARTIN, Michigan — Martin High School lives by the motto "make it happen." You can see it on signs all around the building. 

This weekend, the football team made it happen, bringing a title back for the first time in decades, and reigniting a pride that never fully went away.

Martin's population is just over 400 people, and you'd be hard pressed to find any of them not in the high school's gym celebrating the team.

"The whole town and everything, everyone comes together and it's exciting for a little, small town to see that happen," says Curtis Belka, a lifelong resident of Martin.

Belka was born in 1987, the last time Martin won the state championship.

"I don't remember that one though," he says.

He braved the cold for the team's celebration parade before heading to the gym for the rally. He wouldn't have missed it for the world.

"Something to be proud of, boys," says Belka. "It don't happen every day, so carry this one on with you."

The team made the trek to the U.P. to play in the game at Northern Michigan University's Superior Dome, winning big, 74-24.

Senior quarterback JR Hildebrand credits the fans.

"It was pretty electrifying," says Hildebrand. "The dome just echoes everything so the crowd was ten times louder."

Head coach Brad Blauvelt agrees.

"They showed out in a big, big way," he says. "Made memories, made an experience for these kids that they'll have for the rest of their lives."

Memories the players will have forever, and one that will be talked about in the community for a long time.

"Unless they keep on getting them," says Belka. "Which it could happen too!"


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