MARQUETTE - In two tributes Tuesday, the Ishpeming Hematites football team was honored for its second-consecutive state championship season.
Earlier this month, the Hematites won the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 7 championship game at Ford Field in Detroit, beating Detroit Loyola 22-12, the same team Ishpeming beat in 2012.
On Tuesday, the Marquette County Board invited the team and coaches to its regular meeting where a plaque was presented tohead coach Jeff Olson and copies of the resolution presented to team members. State Rep. John Kivela, D-Marquette, also presented a tribute plaque signed by Kivela, state Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba and Gov. Rick Snyder.
State Rep. John Kivela, D-Marquette, left, presents Ishpeming Hematites’ coach Jeff Olson a plaque honoring the football team for its second-straight Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 7 state championship at the Marquette County Board meeting Tuesday. The team was awarded a plaque from the county board as well. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
"The county board thought it would be the right thing to do to ask them to come in to honor them as a county, we know you've been honored in your community and certainly the whole U.P. is proud of you as well as the state of Michigan," said board Chairman Gerald Corkin.
During the regular season, the Ishpeming was undefeated, winning all nine of its games. Ishpeming also won playoff games against Mancelona, West Iron County, Lake City and Harbor Beach to advance to the championship game against the Bulldogs.
Corkin called the players and coaches a "very extraordinary team."
"We're all very proud of you," Corkin said. "It's just something that in my lifetime, I've never seen a better two years of Upper Peninsula football."
Corkin also honored the team's actions off the gridiron.
"Away from the football, I guess even more impressive was the way that you young men handled yourself all year and how you represented your school," Corkin said. "That, to me, was even more important.
"You're obviously overall a very intelligent group of players, you showed that on the field, and some of your fundamentals you can pass on to college and pro teams."
Kivela read the special tribute to the team aloud.
"This group of disciplined student athletes have generated great pride throughout this part of the state," the resolution read. "Much to the delight of their loyal fans, the Hematites have also earned the respect of prep sports followers elsewhere in Michigan throughout their talent, teamwork and determination."
Kivela wanted to emphasize those attributes.
"I've never witnessed a team that exemplified these three words: talent, teamwork and determination," he said.
The tribute stated, "We admire the efforts, team spirit and preparation of these talented young people."
County Vice Chairwoman Deborah Pellow said, "I think the Detroit team is really going to remember Ishpeming next time."
John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.