There were only a few questions heading into last week’s game in Manistique for Coach Jacobson’s Negaunee Miners football team, and most of them were answered. Ryan Bischoff & Austin Johnson each stepped into their roles as tandem replacements for the departed Tyler LaJoie. Zak Harsila looked like a bulldozer at fullback & Rob Loy looked impressive stepping into his first varsity football action at wide receiver alongside Jason Bell. Then there was Ryan Syrjala. Coming off of a junior season where he vastly improved with each game (not that he struggled early on), Syrjala stepped in and looked like he was poised for a great season, scoring two touchdowns in the 2014 opener.
Now the Miners will turn their eyes to the north. They’ll have a non-conference meeting with the Calumet Copper Kings. Calumet is coming off of a thrilling defensive battle against their conference rival Northland Pines. The Copper Kings came out on top 14-12 using their defense to secure the victory in the waning minutes of the game. Trailing 14-6, the Eagles were able to punch in a touchdown and had the chance to tie with the two-point conversion. Unfortunately for Northland Pines, however, Calumet intercepted the ball on the play and recovered the onside kick to secure a Copper King victory. That wasn’t the only defensive stand that Calumet would make in this game. Northland Pines was able to get deep into Copper King territory six times throughout the game, but came away with only 12 points. Four stops coming inside the 20 for head coach John Croze’s squad. While it took until six minutes left in the game for Calumet to score, they were able to do just enough to pick up the win. A 62-yard bomb from quarterback Tyler Loukus to wide receiver Nate Kangas started off the scoring, followed by an interception early on the next drive, which set up Calumet for the go-ahead score on the Eagles’ eight yard line. Running back Kaden Kangas was able to punch it in on a 10-yard score.
If the Miners are going to win this ballgame, they’re going to have to be disciplined. The offensive lineman have to know who their assignment is. The cornerbacks have to know where the safties are, and the safties need to know where they’re going to be before the play even begins. Ryan Syrjala needs to be able to read the talented Copper King secondary, and all running backs need to trust their line and hit the holes hard.
Be sure to tune into SunnyFM or log on to the live stream here at Sunny.FM tomorrow night as the Negaunee Miners head north to take on non-conference rival the Calumet Copper Kings. Pre-game will begin at 6:30 with a 7pm kickoff. Join my partner Jesse Anderson & myself for all of your Negaunee Miner action!
-Carl Leander Johnson