Ontonagon continues Smackdown reign

CALUMET – Ontonagon Area High School’s Diamond Match Devils played the last four rounds of the High School Local History Smackdown one mistake away from defeat.

But that didn’t stop the team from scoring a win at the Keweenaw National Historical Park’s Smackdown, held Thursday night at the Calumet Theatre.

Second place was Dollar Bay High School’s Big Annies. Three teams tied for third: Baraga High School’s Callithumpians, Ontonagon’s Rockland Renegades, and Jeffers High School’s Green and White Miners.

Team member Tom Croteau said it felt good to repeat as champions.

“We get our name on this trophy again,” he said. “It’s pretty nice. We’ve won it five years in a row now. It’s setting up a dynasty.”

The team crammed for the Smackdown in five hour-long study session.

“And with our Historical Society, we do a lot of summer programs and history related things,” said team member Logan Graff.

The Diamond Match Devils received their final question in the 12th round: “This commercial brewery was established in 1871. It soon became the second-largest employer in the Copper Country, with distribution facilities and saloons throughout the area. What was the name of this company?”

They answered correctly, “The Bosch Brewing Company.”

For the final question – the 89th of the Smackdown – the Big Annies couldn’t come up with the name of the Commission of Indian Affairs agent stationed at Sault Ste. Marie after the commission’s formation in 1822. (Henry Schoolcraft, the namesake of a county and township in Michigan.)

Teams were eliminated after two incorrect questions. Most were verbal, along with two visual rounds. They could also pass one question, with another question following immediately.

The Match Devils missed for the first time in the eighth round, then used their free pass in the ninth round to bypass a question about a then-state-of-the-art school built in Calumet in the 19th century.

“That pass was scary,” Croteau said. “I had no idea, about that Washington School question.”

But the team survived the bare-knuckle ride and hung on to win. They planned to celebrate with pizza.

“Actually, we’re going to Disneyland,” Croteau said.

Graff countered with an amusement park popular in the early 20th century, located halfway between Hancock and Calumet. What was its name?

“We’re going to Electric Park,” he said.