At the beginning of every high school football season, each team has the same goal- to win a championship. The Ishpeming Hematites were able to accomplish that goal last season, winning the Division 7 State Championship over Detroit Loyola, 20-14.
The defending state champs are back to work, preparing for the regular season. Ishpeming returns a number of their skills players from a year ago. Quarterback Alex Briones, running back Bobby Zhulkie, and wide receiver Tyrus Millimaki are all seniors. They will be in charge of putting up points on the scoreboard.
The Hematites are rebuilding in two key areas, on both the offensive and defensive lines. From day one of practice, head coach Jeff Olson told his team that they must forget about their 2012 championship run if they are going to have any success at all in 2013.
“We really discussed that before we came out that first day. You can’t live in the past. Nothing is going to come easy, especially in the conference (the Mid Peninsula Conference) that we play in,” said Olson.
“This is a different identity of kids, this is a different team. We have to make our mark with this team. We have to get that (offensive) line going right now, and that’s what we are doing. Getting our assignments down, our technique down, and more important than that, coming off of the ball hard every play,” Olson added.
“You can’t go anywhere without your offensive line,” said Tyrus Millimaki. “All of the kids that were on the junior varsity team last year have been working hard and they’ve been pretty good, so I think we’ll be alright.”
“We always have high expectations and we work hard for them, so hopefully (the season) ends up the way we want it,” Millimaki went on to say.
“We just have to take it one game at a time, just stay level headed, and each week prepare for the team that we are playing,” said Bobby Zhulkie.
Ishpeming opens up the season at home against Iron Mountain on Friday, Aug. 30.