MARQUETTE, Mich. – When one of your top players goes down, teams can either fold up shop or rally around their teammate. The Hematites chose the ‘next man up’ philosophy, and boy did it ever pay off.
Late in the second quarter against Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary on Saturday at the Superior Dome, Ishpeming’s Ozzy Hakkarinen suffered a broken collarbone. Without the services of Hakkarinen, the Hematites still found a way to win the game, 22–18, courtesy of some big plays by Ozzy Corp, Nick Comment, and Thomas Finegan.
“When Ozzy Hakkarinen went out that probably hurt us more defensively than offensively,” said Hematites head coach Jeff Olson. “You’ve got a like Ozzy Corp who could hardly breathe, come to the sidelines, get the play, then run six or seven yards. It all comes down to the competitiveness of our kids… what a great group of kids.”
“We just had to grind through it. Dominic Suardini came up big for us playing running back,” said Ishpeming quarterback Ozzy Corp. “We needed to convert on a couple of fourth down plays and we did it.”
“It was a very hard game. Michigan Lutheran Seminary is a very good team,” said Ishpeming lineman Alec VanHorn. “We had to step it up, play physical like we always do and stay in our technique. That’s what helped us pull it off.”
Ishpeming will play against Detroit Loyola in the Division 7 state championship game Saturday at 10 a.m. at Ford Field in Detroit.