ESCANABA - As champions of the Mid-Peninsula Conference, Negaunee turned out not to be the easy choice, but the only choice as Class C Team of the Year by the Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.
The group made its selection without any other nomination at its annual high school football meeting held at Hereford & Hops restaurant in Escanaba on Wednesday afternoon, also naming Kingsford in Class A-B and North Dickinson in Class D.
The Miners finished their regular season at 8-1, including a 6-0 mark in the M-PC that culminated with a 20-8 home victory over Ishpeming on Oct. 5 that effectively decided the league title.
The Negaunee Miners’ offense huddles up against Gladstone on Sept. 7 in Negaunee. The Miners were selected as the U.P.’s top team in Class C after winning the Mid-Peninsula Conference championship. (Journal file photo)
Even though it lost the next week to Marquette, Negaunee stamped itself as the class of Class C with the Hematites the only other one-loss team among those of this size.
Coach Paul Jacobson also received consideration as Large School Coach of the Year after the Miners had back-to-back 5-4 regular seasons, making the playoffs two years ago and missing them last season.
Negaunee has such a rich history of football that it holds not just one, but the two most frequently played high school football rivalries in the state, according to the Michigan High School Athletic Association website.
The Miners have played Ishpeming 139 times dating back to 1895 and Marquette 137 times going back to 1893, according to www.mhsaa.com. By the way, Negaunee holds the edge against the Hematites, 67-61-12, and vs. the Redmen, 68-57-11, including this season.
And more recently, NHS has now made the playoffs 14 of the past 16 seasons, according to a related website, www.michigan-football.com.
Negaunee played five playoff teams this season and posted a wide range of victories, winning twice by less than a touchdown and five times by at least 22 points.
The Miners scored more points, 226, and allowed the fewest, 53, of any team in M-PC games this season.
Also a unanimous pick for the UPSSA in Class A-B, Kingsford pulled off a similar feat, posting the best record of any school of its size in the U.P. at 8-1 and winning the Great Northern Conference with a 4-0 mark.
Coach Chris Hofer's squad qualified for the MHSAA playoffs for the 12th time in 13 years this weekend. The Flivvers ventured into Wisconsin to play four Badger State teams this season and lost its only game, 36-14, to one-loss La Crosse Central, a Division 2 playoff team in its state.
North Dickinson (8-0), meanwhile, edged St. Ignace (9-0) in a 10-8 UPSSA vote to earn the Class D honor.
The Nordics, making their 23rd appearance in the state playoffs, ran the table of the six-team Mid-Eastern Football Conference, easily scoring the most points and allowing the fewest of any league team, which included playoff-bound 7-2 Stephenson and 5-4 North Central, along with first-year members Munising and Newberry.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.