Patriots named Team of the Year in Class C

Negaunee’s Drew DuShane, left, runs to catch the ball, pursued by Westwood’s Ethan Burke Friday night, Oct. 20, 2017, at Westwood. (Journal photo by Rachel Oakley)

By RYAN STIEG

Journal Sports Writer

MARQUETTE — After achieving the best season in school history, it was no surprise Wednesday when the Westwood Patriots were named Class C Team of the Year at the annual Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association meeting.

The Patriots (9-1) were the only Marquette County team to make the playoffs and they are still alive, too, as they will take on Lake City this afternoon in Division 7.

Westwood also landed three defensive players on the All-U.P. Dream Team in end Sam Gilles, tackle Blake Hewitt and linebacker Ethan Homola as well as a Small School First Team honoree in running back-quarterback Nathan Beckman.

“We knew that we were going to have a solid team with who we had coming back,” Westwood head coach Scott Syrjala said. “We knew we have great kids because we spent a lot of time with them in the offseason.

“They do a lot of volunteering and they do anything I ask of them. When you have that group of kids, good things are going to happen.

“Not everything went our way and we’ve had to face some adversity. We lost two of our offensive and defensive linemen early in the year, but the kids simply said ‘next guy up.’ That’s been our attitude.

“We’re still young with juniors and sophomores, but it’s one of the better groups I’ve been around as a coach.

“This is a tribute to our kids. Our administration has also been very supportive to what we are trying to do and I couldn’t be happier right now. This is a great accomplishment to be recognized as a program and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.

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