Patriots end 25 years of frustration against Iron Mountain


Iron Mountain Daily News

IRON MOUNTAIN — It has been a long time coming for the Westwood football team, but they finally toppled the Mountaineers.

The Patriots (4-1, 1-1 Mid-Peninsula Conference) ended their long losing streak to Iron Mountain with a 34-0 victory Friday night. The streak goes back to 1992 when Westwood head coach Scott Syrjala was a junior during the Patriots’ 12-8 win.

“I couldn’t be prouder and happier for our kids. We were a little bit short-handed tonight,” Syrjala said. “Kids like Erik Anderson went in. Troy Anderson went in on defense. Ethan Homola stepped up. I told those guys that’s a huge monkey off our backs. I told the guys maybe it won’t be another 25 years, but I don’t know. That’s up to the kids and it’s up to me if I’m still coaching.”

Westwood quarterback Nathan Beckman rushed 19 times for 201 yards and three touchdowns. He also threw 4 for 7 for 54 yards and a touchdown.

Westwood’s Ashton Bergman rushed seven times for 76 yards.

The Mountaineers (0-4, 0-3) failed to sustain any momentum on offense, punting three times in the first half. Iron Mountain gathered just 137 yards of total offense. The Mountaineers rushed 29 times for just 65 yards, and 72 passing.

Iron Mountain gained seven first downs, while Westwood had 19.

“It’s just, I don’t know, we’re limited in what we can do on offense,” Iron Mountain head coach Robin Marttila said. “We need to be more consistent.”

Iron Mountain’s Zach Herrick rushed eight times for a team-leading 26 yards.

The Patriots, by contrast, amassed 413 yards of offense, including 362 rushing and 51 passing.

“Westwood’s a quality football team. They’re physical, made more plays than us on both sides of the ball,” Marttila said. “We just couldn’t get it going.”

The Patriots used some formations for the first time this season.

“My plan was to open up our playbook a little bit, pass a little more. I’m a product of (former Northern Michigan University coach) Buck Nystrom and (Ishpeming head coach) Jeff Olson, what can I say,” Syrjala said. “So we ran new formations, but we still ran ice and slant. That allowed us to open up the field a little bit and kind of spread the field. We did a great job. Our kids saw the holes and made some great cuts.”

With about 14 players healthy and substitutions scarce, Marttila said fatigue has factored into games slipping away after the second quarter.

“That’s a part of it,” he said. “We’re limited in numbers and play hard, you get tired.”