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First in their class: Marquette, Gwinn football teams place players on All-Upper Peninsula First Team

MARQUETTE — Just as in previous years, Marquette County high school football players earned a number of spots on the Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association All-U.P. First Team.

Marquette had two players make the squad with running back Brady Wright powering his way after a season when he had 562 yards on 129 carries and five touchdowns, while also adding 14 pass receptions for another 176 yards.

“I think I’ve said this many times, Brady is just a good football player,” Redmen head coach Eric Mason said. “If all of our kids — we have a lot of talented kids and a lot of kids that are talented in different aspects of the game — but as far as an all-around football player, he’s definitely at the top of the list.

“I’m proud of him and I’m gonna miss that kid. He works hard and I’m hoping that I’m gonna be able to watch him at the next level. I think we’re going to and I know if it’s up to him and his work ethic, he’ll make it happen.”

The other Redman honoree was kicker and punter Connor Johnson, who made First Team as a punter. As a kicker, though, he made two field goals and was 28 for 31 on extra points.

“I’m probably fortunate that there’s such a great soccer program in Marquette, because the last few years our kickers have come from that soccer program,” Mason said. “And I mean, what more can you say, the last two years with Drew Wyble and Connor, I didn’t know if Connor was coming out this year because he had played as a freshman and obviously I was very happy when he made his decision to play.

“He was a weapon, regardless whether it be punting, kicking, extra points, field goals, I mean he affected the game in so many ways, as you know with special teams can do.

“Until you have a player like that, that can do that, I think a lot of times you forget the impact special teams can have. When you have someone like that, it really shows and I hope it just keeps going.

“I keep looking toward that soccer program and I think we’ve got a couple coming up. So I’m in full support of our soccer program here in Marquette.”

The other school that had a player make the First Team was Gwinn, which was represented by senior defensive tackle Reid Hill. While his statistics that included 21 tackles — seven solo and 14 assisted — one sack and one fumble recovery may appear unimpressive, Modeltowners head coach Ben Olsen said that they’re a little misleading as opposing teams tried to desperately run away from him.

“He’s a big physical kid that controlled the line of scrimmage for us,” Olsen said. “Like I’ve said, his stats weren’t very good because people ran away from him, but he controlled whoever kind of was in front of him and made it easy for us.”

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

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