Not to get ahead of ourselves here, but the next two weeks could prove historic for the Petoskey High School boys' and girls' basketball programs and the Big North Conference.
Both are poised not only to win their respective league championships outright, but could also, based on won-loss records, be considered among the very best teams in the league's 14-year history.
The Northmen boys are 7-0 and can wrap up a share of their second straight title with a win at home Friday against Alpena. After Alpena, the Northmen play at Cadillac, then finish the regular season at home against T.C. Central.
If Petoskey runs the table, it will finish 10-0 in the conference for its second straight undefeated league campaign. It would mark the first time in Big North history that a boys' team has put together back-to-back championships and gone unbeaten in the process. The Northmen have won 17 consecutive Big North games since a 34-33 loss at Gaylord on Feb. 27, 2009.
The Northmen need to win one of those remaining three league games to earn a title share, two to win it outright. That's all well and good for coach Dennis Starkey and his players, but the goal all along has been to go undefeated.
For the record, before last season, when the Northmen finished 10-0, only one other team had ever gone undefeated in the league. That was the 1997-98 Petoskey squad led by John Flynn and Trevor Huffman that finished 14-0 in the league's inaugural season.
The Northmen are also looking to become the first team to repeat as the Big North champion since 2003-04, when Petoskey and Cadillac accomplished the feat. The Northmen and Vikings also shared the crown, along with T.C. West, in 2002-03.
If Petoskey wins the league, it will be the Northmen's sixth Big North Conference championship. The Northmen and Cadillac have both won or shared five league crowns, while T.C. West and T.C. Central have captured three each. Alpena and Gaylord have won one apiece.
Obviously, that adds up to more than 14 titles, and that's because four times over the years the crown has been shared.
That Petoskey and Cadillac have combined to finish on top so many times says a mouthful about the consistency of their programs under Starkey and his Cadillac counterpart, Jeff McDonald.
Now, for the girls. The Northmen need to beat Alpena Friday to capture their first outright championship since 1999. They have one conference game remaining after that, Friday, Feb. 25, at home against Cadillac.
If the Northmen win them both, they will become the first team to go through the league undefeated in five seasons.
The 2005 T.C. West Titans finished 10-0 when the girls' season was played in the fall. There have been five unbeaten champions in league history.
West has captured five titles, while Sault Ste. Marie has three, Petoskey and T.C. Central two each, and Cadillac and Alpena one apiece.
The remarkable thing about Sault Ste. Marie's record is that the Blue Devils won three of the first four Big North crowns, and was in the league only until 2003, when they and Cheboygan left the league.
Since the girls' season switched to the winter for the 2007-08 season, only once, last year, has one school claimed both the girls' and boys' championships in the same year.
That was Petoskey last winter.
The feat was accomplished in the same school year three times before that when the girls played in the fall, by T.C. West in school year '02-03 and '05-06, and by T.C. Central in '04-05.
By the numbers