Area’s small schools shine brightly on All-U.P. First Team
MARQUETTE — Can you say dominant?
The small schools in the central Upper Peninsula definitely made some strong cases for postseason awards at Wednesday’s Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association meeting.
As a result, a dozen football players from The Mining Journal primary coverage area earned All-U.P. Small School First Team honors, with the Newberry Indians leading the way with six awards.
Senior George Sevarns picked up two certificates, one at quarterback and the other at punter. Sevarns finished the season with 84 completions on 172 attempts for 1,706 yards, setting a school record.
He also had 20 touchdowns by the end of the regular season and was named Mid-Eastern Football Conference Offensive Back of the Year. He was also All-MEFC in both kicking and punting and garnered some votes for the All-U.P. Dream Team as well.
“Obviously, I’m very proud of him being his father,” Newberry head coach George Sevarns said. “He’s very deserving of it and he’s worked very hard over the course of his career to get where he’s at today. He’s a very coachable kid and I’m happy for him. I know this means a lot to him.”
Other Newberry honorees were center Wyatt Garrett, offensive tackle David Carlson, defensive tackle Sena Parker and linebacker Tyler Blakely. Blakely put up some solid stats on the year with 69 total tackles and a forced fumble, which earned him a spot on the MEFC First Team.
Both Gwinn and Ishpeming had two players earn First Team awards. Gwinn guard Logan Kruhlik notched a spot on the list after anchoring the Modeltowners’ offensive line. He was named Mid-Peninsula Conference First Team lineman and was a unanimous choice for First Team guard.
“If I remember correctly, he got First Team last year and nothing has changed for him,” Modeltowners head coach Dion Brown said. “He works hard every day and is the leader of our team. He’s been playing varsity since his freshman year and he was our best guard his freshman year.
“He’s very versatile, too. If I needed to run off the side, I could put him at tackle, too. He’s just very good. If you watch him on film, he definitely stands out. He’s definitely one of the best in the U.P. and even in the state.
“I think every (NCAA) Division II school in the GLIAC is looking at him and Central and Eastern (Michigan) are looking at him, too. He’s definitely one of the best.”
Gwinn’s other honoree was tight end Tucker Taylor. The Modeltowners were hit hard not only by low numbers, but injuries as well. As a result, Taylor became Gwinn’s main offensive weapon. He finished first in the M-PC in receptions (26) and second in receiving yards (410). As a result, he made the M-PC First Team and earned lots of praise from his coach.
“When (running back) Marlin (Moton) got hurt, pretty much everyone knew that we were going to throw the ball to Tucker,” Brown said. “There were literally three or four guys on him all the time. He’s very versatile as well. I can move him outside at receiver or go into the slot or at the wing. I even had him in the backfield sometimes.
“He’s just got some great ball skills. If the ball is in the air, Tucker can go get it. He’s only going to get better, too. The sky is the limit for him.”
While both of Gwinn’s awards came on offense, Ishpeming’s were split on each side of the ball. Hematites offensive tackle Erik Heidelberger picked up the one award after a season that also saw him earn a unanimous nod for M-PC First Team.
“Eric was our No. 1 lineman and he’s a great one-on-one blocker,” Ishpeming head coach Jeff Olson said. “He’s a two-year starter and he played hard both ways. He’s fundamental and he’s got a great motor, going 100 miles per hour till the whistle blows. When you take what he has and add some technique in there, it makes him a really good player.”
Ishpeming’s other recipient was linebacker Donald Denofre. Denofre was mostly known for being the Hematites’ primary quarterback, but it was on defense where he really shined, earning M-PC First Team honors.
“Donald is just a great athlete,” Olson said. “He’s a great runner with the football on offense, but defensively, he can really get to that ball. He’s an all-around football player and he really gets the most out of his abilities. He was a big weapon for us and he got hurt early in the year so he played a lot of minutes not being at full strength. That really shows you what type of kid that he is.”
After earning three defensive spots on the All-U.P. Dream Team, Westwood only landed one on offense, but it was definitely well deserved. Patriots running back-quarterback Nathan Beckman earned his honor after leading the M-PC in rushing yards (1,059 through the regular season) and scoring 11 touchdowns. Beckman also was honorable mention for M-PC Back of the Year and was a unanimous First Teamer at running back. He also received four votes in a tight race for All-U.P. Offensive Player of the Year.
“Nathan had a really great season and he continues to get better,” Westwood head coach Scott Syrjala said. “That’s what impresses me the most about him. He continues to put us in great situations to run our offense. A lot of people talk about different weapons on our team, but the ball gets snapped to him first. He then has to make the plays to wherever it goes, so this is very well deserved. He does everything we ask him to do.”
Munising linebacker Matthew Revord picked up the last area Small Schools spot at linebacker. Revord had 103 total tackles, 42 solo tackles and eight tackles for a loss along with two sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception. Those stats also earned him All-Mid Eastern Football Conference honors.
“Matt is an outstanding tackler and is probably the hardest-hitting guy on the team,” Mustangs head coach Jeff Seaberg said. “He may not be the biggest guy, but man does he get to the ball. He is all over the field every game.”
The Large Schools’ First Team was primarily filled with teams outside of the area, but Marquette did earn one spot on the squad with defensive end Greyson Anthos. He was a member of the All-Great Northern Conference First Team and finished the season with 68 1/2 tackles, seven tackles for a loss, one sack and an interception.
“Greyson was the leader of our defense playing inside linebacker and defensive end, depending on the front we employed,” Redmen head coach Dave L’Huillier said. “He did a great job on the inside of the line and made all the adjustments on the field.”
There was also one Alger County player who made the Eight-Player First team and that was Superior Central junior running back Roubens Fink.
“We were led by Roubens Fink on the ground with 1,332 yards on 97 carries (a 13.73-yard-per-carry average), and he received for another 143 yards and threw for 44 yards,” according to SC coach Sam Eggleston. “He had 14 rushing touchdowns, one receiving TD, and scored two 2-point conversions. He had just under 900 yards rushing as a sophomore.”
Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.