MARQUETTE, Mich. – The first Ford Mustangs made their way off the assembly lines in Detroit back in 1964. The 2014 Mustangs that were built in Munising are gearing up for their first trip to the Motor City and their first shot at winning a state championship since 1980.
“The kids are fired up. It’s been their goal to reach this point,” said Mustangs head coach Jeff Seaberg. “They’ve stayed focus, done their job and they’re ready to play the big one.”
“Everyone’s excited and wants to get down there and play already,” said Munising running back Garrett Blank.
“I’m really excited for the game and we’re preparing like it’s just another game,” said Mustangs lineman Jason Lindbeck.
Munising will face Muskegon Catholic Central Friday at 10 a.m. in the Division 8 final. The Crusaders are the defending Champs in Division 8. M-C-C has won 25 straight games dating back to last year. The Crusaders are led by senior running back Tommy Scott, who was named the Associated Press Division 7-8 player of the year on Tuesday.
“He’s fast and they have quite a few fast backs,” said Seaberg. “Hopefully if we can stop him at the point of attack, we can get more bodies to the ball and shut him down.”
“We’re obviously going to stay with our run game- that’s what’s carried us this season,” said Munising wide receiver Andy Cooper. “We can go to the passing game if we need to… stick to the short passes and maybe beat them deep on a couple,” cooper added.
The Mustangs are the underdogs in this matchup and that’s OK with them. Munising wasn’t favored by anyone against Beal City, and that game turned out just fine for the orange and black.
“We’re going to show up – we didn’t make the long drive for nothing,” added Seaberg.
“If we do what we normally do, I think we will be OK,” said Blank.
Playing at Ford Field will be a new experience for the Mustangs. For the Ishpeming Hematites, they have felt right at home inside the 65,000 seat stadium the past two years, defeating Detroit Loyola not once, but twice. According to Hematites head coach Jeff Olson, the Bulldogs pack plenty of beef up front in the trenches.
“You look on paper they’re huge again,” said Olson. “Their biggest lineman is 6’3″ 325 lbs. and their smallest lineman is 245 lbs. On the flip side, they’re fast. Their defensive lineman can run a 4.8 40 (yard dash).”
“We figured out their identity and know what they’re doing and they know what we’re doing. It’s just a matter of who can make the big plays,” said Ishpeming quarterback Ozzy Corp.
“All of our roles are going to go up. All of the backs know what to do when they get the ball and they’ve been ready for this opportunity. I think we’ll be just fine,” said Hematites running back Dominic Suardini.
Although they are the two time defending champs, the Hematites feel that they are the underdogs against the Bulldogs, and they’re embracing that role.
“People still underestimate us, they don’t respect us as much,” said Ishpeming tight end Thomas Finegan. “I think we can still come out and beat them.”
“We love being the underdog and sneaking up on people,” said Olson. “We’re going to show up and play our brand of U.P. football, Ishpeming football. It’s worked well for us in the past and we’re not going to change anything now.”
Ishpeming and Detroit Loyola play the first championship game on Saturday at 10am.