ISHPEMING - Players on offense find it easy to get their names in the lights - just point to all the big, gaudy numbers they put on stat sheet.
Defensive players, on the other hand, have to point to the opposition's miniscule numbers and hope the fans appreciate how impressive they really are.
That is what Ishpeming High School did on Friday night as the Hematites shut down Calumet, 23-6, for all but one play at the Ishpeming Playgrounds.
Calumet’s James Sturos (12) releases a pass as Ishpeming’s RJ Poirier (43) and Joseph Lyle (62) make a tackle during the third quarter at the Ishpeming Playgrounds on Friday. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)
The Copper Kings totaled 130 yards, but 79 of them came on one early fourth-quarter flea-flicker that got them their only points.
"Our line did a great job on both sides of the ball, and the defense was strong, except for that one play," IHS coach Jeff Olson said.
Seven plays earlier, Ishpeming (3-0) made it 23-0 on a 10-yard touchdown run by junior Eric Kostreva and an extra point kicked by senior Eric Dompierre, his second of the season.
Calumet (0-3) had just gotten the ball back on a punt at its own 21 when senior quarterback James Sturos pitched to fellow senior Owen Kariniemi, who stopped, set himself, and heaved the ball about 30 yards to a wide-open Paul Torola.
The junior back was open by at least 10 yards and just had to sprint in from midfield to score.
"That was one of the few times we were able to do anything against their defense," Copper Kings coach John Croze said. "I suppose we should've tried that earlier.
"It's a tough job trying to get yards against Jeff (Olson)'s defense."
As was proven by the 51 yards they had on their other 31 plays - 16 rushes for 19 yards and 4 of 15 passing for 32 yards.
Meanwhile, the Hematites' offense was often unspectacular, but ground out enough yardage to build a 16-0 halftime advantage.
"Our line made some holes for our running backs," Hematites QB Alex Briones said. "We missed some opportunities, though."
Briones completed just one pass, but it didn't count on his stats as it came on a two-point conversion following the game's first score. So he was 0 for 6 officially through the air.
"Alex does a good job running the show for us," Olson said. "And there were a couple of dropped passes.
"We have the weapons, and we'd thrown well the last couple of games."
Ishpeming junior Bobby Zhulkie ended Calumet's first possession with an easy interception as several Hematites continually put pressure on Sturos.
Junior Adam Prisk culminated IHS' 55-yard drive with a 10-yard TD run, and with Briones' PAT pass to junior Mitch Laurin, Ishpeming led 8-0.
Neither team did much until the middle of the second quarter, when the Hematites got a short field on Calumet's botched snap to its punter that resulted in an incomplete pass.
Briones ended a 38-yard drive with a 4-yard TD rush and also ran in the PAT.
IHS managed just 104 yards in the second half, but found a new secret weapon in the third quarter - junior punter Tyler Windahl.
Also a running back and backup QB, Windahl booted a 44-yarder that slowly rolled out of bounds at the Calumet 1, then followed it up with a 32-yarder that simply bounced up and died on the ground at the Kings' 5.
"I was proud of how our defense played in the second half, considering the field position we had," Croze said.
The punts eventually set up another short field for IHS, and it drove just 20 yards for its final TD, a 10-yard scamper by senior Eric Kostreva.
In the final minute with both teams employing subs, Ishpeming drove to the Calumet 1 to set up Dompierre for a 17-yard field goal try, which sailed just under the crossbar.
The Hematites travel to Westwood at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.