How sweet it is! Ishpeming has won back-to-back Division 7 football state championship titles.
Detroit Loyola was called bigger, faster, and stronger by the national media pundits for a second year in row. But that did not stop the defending champions as they claimed a 22-12 victory over the Bulldogs Saturday afternoon at Ford Field.
It all started on the opening kickoff.
Detroit Loyolaâ??s Paul Harbin muffed the kickoff and Ishpeming's Ozzie Hakkarinen would recover inside Loyola territory. The Hematites' offense would capitalize as Alex Briones found Marcus Antilla for a 17-yard touchdown to put Ishpeming up 8-0.
â??It was the same story,â?? said head coach Jeff Olson. â??From what a lot of people said, we were still the underdog and rightfully so. Thatâ??s a good teamâ?| [but] we made plays.â??
It seemed Detroit Loyolaâ??s chance for revenge fell by the wayside early on. Briones threw another touchdown to Mitch Laurin in the second quarter.
Adam Prisksâ?? 37-yard run sparked a 2-yard touchdown run by Briones to cap a 54-yard third quarter drive. Briones finished with 136 yards of total offense and three touchdowns.
By the time the Bulldogs checked the scoreboard, they were already down 22-0.
â??Theyâ??re big, theyâ??re fast, and strong,â?? said Briones. â??We knew we were probably going to meet up with them. We had to take care of our business firstâ?|and we were able to come out on top.â??
The Hematites defense showed up ready to play.
Ishpeming held Detroit Loyola running backs Marvin Campbell and Mideyin Wilson to 62 yards, and stifled quarterback Garrett Schaller, sacking him five times and forcing three interceptions.
The biggest interception came late in the game. With 1:46 remaining the third quarter, Schaller found Keith Graves for a 34-yard touchdown to put the Bulldogs on the scoreboard.
Detroit Loyola would add another score with just under four minutes remaining in the game. Jordan Tousignant blew the gaps and made a tackle to prevent the Bulldogs from tacking on another two points.
Loyola was threatening late in the fourth quarter, but Ozzy Corp got the game-winning interception inside the 5-yard line to seal the victory.
â??Theyâ??ve been focused all year,â?? Olson said. â??It comes down to that competitiveness that they have, the passion they have for football, and the warmth.â??
With a big chunk of the Hematites team set for graduation, this second straight state championship title was the perfect way to end a perfect 14-0 season.
â??Over the last two years, weâ??ve developed a brotherhood,â?? said Prisk. â??We work together, we hang out together, we laugh together. Itâ??s the one thing that weâ??re going to miss is that brotherhood that we might never have again.â??