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      Hematites prepare with pep rally

      It was a packed auditorium at Ishpeming High School on Wednesday as the school kicked off this holiday weekend with a pep rally.

      The Hematite football team will be facing off against Detroit Loyola for the Divison 7 State Championship on Saturday.

      "It means so much for this team and this group of kids to win this game. Just for the community to have a state championship this year would be awesome," said Ishpeming senior, Brad Wootke.

      The school hosted special guest speaker, Bernie Anderson. He is an Ishpeming alumnus and former Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan University head football coach.

      After Anderson's speech, head coach Jeff Olson introduced each player on stage.

      "It feels great. The feeling is just so rewarding from all this hard work we put in the last two years. It feels great to finally make it down there as our own team, not riding along with the run that went two years ago," Wootke said.

      As for Olson, he wants a win, not only for the title, but also for the team.

      "You want to win that state championship. Nothing would be better than bringing that home. That is the ultimate goal. Yeah, it's great getting down there. It's going to be a great experience for the kids, something they're going to remember for the rest of their lives, but putting that ring on their finger will even be better," said Olson.

      The last time the Hematites made their way to Ford Field was in 2010 when they lost to the Hudson Tigers from downstate. The Hematites are scheduled to play at 10 a.m. Saturday morning. All state finals games will be televised on FOX Sports Detroit.