ISHPEMING – No football team in the Upper Peninsula has had as much success as the Ishpeming Hematites the last two seasons. Their 27–1 record proves it. The back–to–back state champs are now back to work, aiming for a third straight title.
Ishpeming has plenty of experience back this fall, but there are some shoes to fill. A number of recently graduated players have traded in their helmets for whistles, coaching underneath the guidance of head coach Jeff Olson. The current players on the roster love having the guys, who have been there and done that on the gridiron, teaching them on a daily basis.
“It’s neat seeing them work with us. It’s fun,” said Ishpeming full back Nate Meyer. “They’re big goofballs. I love it. They’re also a big help to our team because they help coach us. They have some great advice for us because they used to play in some of our positions. We want to make sure that we’re not the team that let the other guys down. We want to make sure that we do well this year, so we’re not the team that didn’t win.”
“It’s good to get those guys out here and make us work a little harder, get them on the yellow dogs (scout team) and push us to be where we were last year and the past couple of years,” said Ishpeming linebacker Marcus Antilla. “Another state championship would be nice. We just have to work our way there.”
When any team wins three straight championships, the word ‘dynasty’ often comes into play. But you won’t hear the word ‘dynasty’ mentioned by the guys in blue and white– that’s the farthest thing from their minds.
“As far as we talk about, they (the seniors) haven’t accomplished anything,” said head coach Jeff Olson. “They have to win one with their own identity. This is their team now; they’re the leaders. We want to see what they’re doing to do with their team. We’re starting from scratch right now. We’re taking it one game at a time. I know that’s a cliché, but these guys have to do it one game at a time to create their own identity.”
The Hematites begin their title defense on Aug. 28 at Iron Mountain.