MARQUETTE — A new era of Northern Michigan football began today as the team began official practices for the upcoming season. And with a new coaching staff comes new challenges and new expectations.
“It’s been very well. They bring a lot of energy to the field. They have a lot of football IQ, so they help us on and off the field to be better men and football players,” linebacker Daryll Williams said.
“Most of those coaches have already been with me. That’s who we are, what we do and how we live and that’s why those coaches are here. That’s the way the function and operate. However the coaches are, that’s how the players will be,” head coach Kyle Nystrom said.
With all the change going on, there is some continuity from last season as the team’s top rusher Jake Mayon will be back to try and top his stellar junior campaign. Jaranta Lewis is switching from wide receiver to quarterback in an effort to add a dynamic factor in the Wildcats backfield.
“He’s molding into that position very, very well. It’s almost natural. He played in high school. He’s doing great right now. I like how we are meshing together and everything is doing good,” said Mayon.
“Now learning the position of receiver and then going back to quarterback made it easier knowing exactly where the receivers need to be and knowing the timing and those different aspects of it. It’s just another threat to the game and to the defense just being able to use my feet to pick up some yards,” Lewis said.
With so much transitioning going on, the coaches are going to rely on the seniors more than ever to move along the development of the younger players.
“Everything is good right now. We’re starting to get that gel as a team. I’m pretty sure as long we’re progressing and doing the things right as a team should, we’ll be fine,” said Williams.
“It’s not about one guy ever. We need all the guys. We have great lineman out there working. Those guys are non-stop, 24/7 workers. Everybody is going and we can really see that we can have great success on the offense and defense. But we just all need to be on one mindset and all working,” Mayon said.
And getting support from the community is also very high on the to–do list for the Wildcats.
“There’s no “us” without them. They push us. They keep us going. Just having them out there and rooting us on, it’s important and it’s important to us,” said Lewis.
“It’s up to the football program to sell tickets. It’s not up to Northern or the marketing department. We want to make them happy. We have to give them something, when you’re talking about Marquette, the U.P. and the Northern community, we want to give them something to be happy about. It’s our job about how we go about our life and act off the field as much as on the field to make them want to be a part of Wildcats football,” Nystrom said.
NMU will open the regular season on the road on September 9th against Angelo State.