Theyâ??re the hunted, but they havenâ??t been caught yet.
The Ishpeming Hematites return for a shot at winning a third consecutive state championship.
â??We love it,â?? Hematites quarterback Ozzy Corp said. â??We've been ready for this [year] by the end of last season. We just want to be out there and ready to play.â??
A brand new season calls for a brand new team. Soon enough, youâ??ll hear a new voice calling out the plays.
Junior Ozzy Corp gets the first shot at quarterback over teammate Ozzie Hakkarinen. They replace decorated quarterback Alex Briones, who is now at Central Michigan University.
â??I try not to let it get all to my head,â?? Corp said. â??But, I just want people to be behind me and believe in me.â??
Head coach Jeff Olson says there will be no drop-off at the quarterback position.
â??They're in the mold of an Alex Briones, but they're going to be their own player,â?? Olson said. â??You know we talked about that. They got to be who they are and stay within themselves. They're both quarterbacks that can run, they can throw, and we believe they can block too."
But lost from this year are a core group of seniors, who won an astounding 92 percent of their games. In the past four seasons, the Hematites have only lost four games.
â??You can't just show up in August and expect to be successful,â?? Olson said. â??Our kids don't mind practicing football and doing all the hard things it takes to be successful, so, I think the biggest thing is attitude.â??
â??I mean, we lost quite a few players to seniority,â?? Hematites lineman Dan Thornton said. â??But, we got a lot of big kids filling in, a lot of aggressive players. We got a good team.â??
That experience and confidence is what Ishpeming needs moving forward. Their schedule this season is no slouch either. The team kicks off their 2014 campaign on the road against Iron Mountain. In October, back-to-back games against Beal City and Negaunee will gauge the toughness of the team.
â??We just want to take it day by day,â?? Corp said.
In a year following a back-to-back state championship, the boys from Ishpeming just want to get back out on the field to defend their title.
â??[Ishpemingâ??s] tough,â?? Fox Detroit analyst Rob Rubick said. â??I think Coach Olson does a great job keeping it simpleâ?| Makes you proud to be a Yooper.â??