Beating the jinx is always going to be job one

ISHPEMING — “Can they ‘beat the jinx?’

The annual question is at hand as Ishpeming and Iron Mountain football forces grid to do battle for the 18th time in a series in which the Hematites have yet to win.

The series has produced some excellent football, but the end result has always been the same to the growing annoyance of Ishpeming High School athletes and fans.

That annoyance this year burst forth even before the season opened as signs were posted in store windows and on car windshields and plans were begun for a parade and pep rally slated for the city square Friday night.” (Mining Journal, September 1955)

The team had a new coach, Chuck Fairbanks, who graduated from Michigan State University that same year. Fairbanks would spend three years at Ishpeming, 1955-1957, before moving on to collegiate level and then in 1973 he was named head coach of the New England Patriots.

Beating Iron Mountain was not going to be an easy task.

“To ‘beat the jinx,’ the Ishpeming team may have a tougher time than some of its predecessors, as the Mountaineers are also off and flying.”

“This is the first time it has been possible for both teams to be scouted. In the past, Iron Mountain has regularly opened the season against Ishpeming while the Hematites could be scouted as they opened against Manistique the previous week.” (Mining Journal, September 8, 1955)

“With a ‘Beat The Jinx’ rally slated for the City Square tonight, interest in the Saturday afternoon (2 p.m.) clash between Ishpeming and Iron Mountain High Schools is rapidly reaching a peak in the Hematite City.

The rally will be held following a parade from the high school at 6:45 pm. The actual rally, ’emceed’ by School Superintendent W. C. Peterson, will be broadcast over WJPD.

Saturday morning a caravan of cars is being planned. The group will leave for Iron Mountain after organizing about 10:30 a.m. in front of Robbins Flooring Mill.

The reason for the salute to the usually unsung Ishpeming gridders centers around the long and unsuccessful quest for a victory over the perennially powerful Mountaineers. The two clubs have met 17 times, with Iron Mountain always coming out on top.

Last year the Hematites played their best game of the season, battling Iron Mountain on even terms for three quarters before falling 20-7, when Mountaineer backs broke loose for long runs.

The Ishpeming defense’s ability (or lack of same) to stop those breakaway runners may be the key to tomorrow afternoon’s final score.” (Mining Journal, September 9, 1955)

The squad consisted of Jim Barry, Emmet Bengry, Duane King, Ralph LaPlante, Joe Poirier, Jack Talbot, Bob Wills, Rick Wuorenmaa, and Tim Zhulkie as backs. Ends were Lou Clark, Roger Hocking, Bill Parviainen, Jon Salo, Tom Tisch, and Duane Williams. The tackles were Bernie Bjorne (Capt), Dixon Holmgren, Conrad Kontio, Jon St. Andre, and William St. John.

Guards were Roy Bengstrom, Bob Betts, Dave Mankee, Dave Palomaki, and Rick Trestain. The centers were Bruce Carlson and Dale Ruohomaki.

“Somebody tabbed this one the ‘UP game of the week’ but for Ishpeming it was the Game of the Years, that long-sought victory over a good tough Iron Mountain team by a 14-6 score.

A huge turnout of Ishpeming fans followed the team to Iron Mountain to see a fired up bunch of Hematites finally ‘beat the jinx.’ Long after the game was over they were racing around the rival city, sounding a noisy death knell to the Mountaineers unbroken skein of wins over Ishpeming.”

“The pick here is the the Ishpeming linemen. They did their unglamorous jobs beautifully. Not the biggest players, they still gave ground grudgingly, even to the magnificent Ron Steiner, and ‘exploded’ on offense.

It will also be hard to ignore Tim Zhulkie, again the workhorse of the Ishpeming attack. He whizzed for three long runs (two touchdowns), saved a couple of plays at safety, and with the help of a couple linemen, raced in to block the extra point try. Time averaged exactly nine yards a try for 16 attempts.

And how about Jack Talbot? He’s still working in minus figures on passing yardage, but his defensive play and his blocking were a vital part in this victory. The youngsters of the backfield, Bob Wills and Rick Wuorenmaa two placekicks could have been the margin of victory.

The Ishpeming entourage made up a large share of the overflow crowd at the Iron Mountain field and some of the crowd was still waiting to get in as the game started.” (Mining Journal, September 12, 1955)


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