NEGAUNEE - Tyler LaJoie of Negaunee shared Offensive Player of the Year honors in the Mid-Peninsula Conference with Ishpeming's Alex Briones.
So it was only fair that the Miners' bruising running back get the same consideration in statewide honors, too.
LaJoie earned First Team honors on the 2013 Associated Press Divisions 5 and 6 All-State football team that was announced today, a day after Briones earned a similar honor in Divisions 7-8.
Negaunee’s Tyler Lajoie (20) gets out of arm’s reach of Boyne City’s Matt Robinson (50) during an?MHSAA Division 6 District Final on Nov. 8 at The Superior Dome in Marquette. (Journal file photo by Jenna Thompson)
LaJoie, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound senior, rushed for 1,312 yards in just 103 attempts during the regular season, an impressive average of 12.7 yards per carry. That rushing total led the M-PC by nearly 500 yards and his 21 touchdowns was far and away the most scores on the ground, even though five backs had more carries than him.
LaJoie, earlier this month named to the All-Upper Peninsula All-Class Offensive Team by the U.P. Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association, even found time to catch six passes for 184 yards and two more TDs.
"We've had some excellent running backs here, but he's the best one in my 14 years here as head coach," Miners head coach Paul Jacobson said. "His vision of the field is incredible, and he's almost at a different speed and level than those around him."
Negaunee, 8-1 in the regular season with only a 28-24 loss to MHSAA Division 7 state finalist Ishpeming, reached the Division 6 regional championship game before bowing out of the playoffs against three-time defending D6 state champion Ithaca on Nov. 15.
Another Miner also earned state AP honors, with 6-4, 220-pound senior offensive tackle Jeremy Bell earning Special Mention as he earned two or more votes from the statewide panel.
He was credited as a major reason for LaJoie gaining all those yards.
"He's very athletic," Jacobson said. "We can move him to the outside because he's able to get up on linebackers for us."