Sweet dreams: Every nominated Munising football player makes All-Upper Peninsula Dream Team; Newberry, Superior Central awarded too

With a member of the chain gang watching from the sideline, from left, Munising running back Josiah Peramaki turns the corner before he sprints for the end zone to score a touchdown on the snowy field while pursued by Merrill defenders Kaleb Walker, Grant Vedrode, Garrett Frost, Cameron Raftery and Carter Feith during an MHSAA eight-player football Division 1 semifinal game in Munising on Nov. 12. (Journal photo by Steve Brownlee)

MARQUETTE — It could easily be described as a dream season for the Munising High School football team.

So why shouldn’t every Mustangs’ athlete nominated for All-Upper Peninsula consideration be named to the eight-player Dream Team?

That’s what happened to Munising’s half-dozen athletes who were nominated, not to mention the Mustangs themselves being named a Team of the Year and head coach Matt Mattson finishing second in Coach of the Year voting.

Voting took place at the annual football meeting of the U.P. Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association on Wednesday at Northern Michigan University in Marquette.

Munising compiled a perfect 9-0 record in the regular season, including 7-0 in the Great Lakes Eight East. The Mustangs finished 11-1, winning a pair of MHSAA Division 1 playoff games before being edged by Merrill 22-20 in the semifinals on Nov. 12.

For the other two area eight-player teams, Newberry also had several Dream Teamers after an 8-1 regular season and 9-2 overall mark, the Indians’ only losses coming at the hands of Munising.

And head man Joe Austin was named eight-player Coach of the Year, too.

Even Superior Central, which struggled to a 1-7 mark, had a couple First Team players, with several more earning Special Mention or Honorable Mention.

Several top eight-player honors didn’t involve area players.

The Offensive Player of the Year went on unanimous acclimation to North Central’s Luke Gorzinski after his eye-popping stats leading the Jets to three consecutive state championships. They included 1,301 passing yards and 19 touchdowns that way, plus 1,215 rushing yards and another 20 TDs.

And Mason Totzke of Ontonagon beat out Max Nason of NC for Lineman of the Year as Totzke, 6-foot-1, 319 pounds, was named Great Lakes Eight West all-conference on the line.



It was Munising’s day to shine, and none of the half-dozen seniors back-doored their way to the top honors in All-U.P. voting.

Five of the six Mustangs’ Dream Teamers were either unanimous or the top vote getters at their position, with the sixth finishing second in votes among the three who won a Dream Team honor.

Starting with the unanimous vote-getters, Josiah Peramaki meet Micaiah Peramaki. Actually they know each other quite well as not only brothers, but twins.

They were joined by teammate Ashton Wymer in the Unanimity Club.

Everyone knew the Peramakis as the Munising’s 1-2 punch in the offensive backfield, carrying the rushing load in the Mustangs’ run-heavy offense.

It was Josiah, at 6-foot and 181 pounds, who was named Dream Team running back with every voter raising their hand for him.

Shortly after when defense was considered, Micaiah, who is 6-1 and 194 pounds, earned the same distinction at defensive end.

In particular, Josiah’s numbers spoke for themselves among UPSSA voters, particularly when relating his state-record 67-carry performance that netted him 316 yards on the ground in the Mustangs’ final playoff win over Newberry.

Named the Offensive Player of the Year in the Great Lakes Eight East, Josiah finished with 87 carries before that game for 1,050 yards, about 12 yards per attempt, and his 21 rushing touchdowns meant he scored almost every fourth touch.

Just for good measure he caught six passes for 86 yards and two more TDs.

Micaiah made 79 tackles, 39 of them solo, and had 16 tackles for losses and six quarterback sacks on defense. He was named all-conference in the GL8 East, too, after earning that and All-U.P. Dream Team in 2021.

Wymer was a unanimous pick for Dream Team defensive lineman. With his stout 5-5, 217-pound frame, he made 77 tackles, 32 solo, and had five QB sacks and eight tackles for loss this season.

He was a GL8 East all-conference selection this season and honorable mention in ’21.

Then there was the Mustangs’ Jacob Mattson, who was the top vote getter at the always competitive linebacker position. In fact, he was also runner-up in All-U.P. Defensive Player of the Year voting to Dillon Raab of North Central, only losing that vote 11-5.

The Defensive Player of the Year in the GL8 East, Mattson finished with 114 tackles, 61 solo, with four fumble recoveries and four QB sacks.

He’s been all-conference the past two years and was Second Team all-conference in 2020, and made the All-U.P. First Team a year ago.

Another top vote-getter at his position was Kane Nebel as a Dream Team defensive back. Playing quarterback when he wasn’t on defense, the 6-1, 185-pound Nebel made 46 tackles in the regular season, 24 solo, and had six interceptions, eight pass deflections and no TDs given up to players he defended.

He was GL8 East all-conference on both defense and offense this season.

His offensive numbers were just as impressive, as he ran the ball 82 times for 1,134 yards — 13.8 yards per carry — with 11 rushing TDs and nine 2-point conversions.

He found time to complete 34 of 56 passes for 548 yards and eight more TDs and 10 more 2-pointers. All of this with just one interception.

And the No. 2 vote getter for three Dream Team positions on the offensive line was the Mustangs’ Riley Murk, second only to sometimes-lineman, sometimes-pass catcher Max Nason of North Central.

Mattson called the 6-2, 266-pound Murk “the best offensive lineman on a team that had two 1,000-yard rushers and a team that rushed for 3,410 total yards.”

That was later amended to 4,761 yards when adding in the playoffs.

It was those kinds of numbers that led to Munising being named Team of the Year in Division 1 as North Central won the same honor in Division 2.

Meanwhile, Mattson earned six votes to nine for Austin as Coach of the Year as NC’s Leo Gorzinski and Brett Gervais of Lake Linden-Hubbell were also up for consideration.



Austin was nominated for top coach after he won his 200th game this season in his 47th year, noted as the eighth Michigan coach to accomplish the feat.

Newberry had a pair of Dream Team players, one on each side of the ball.

On offense, sophomore Matthew Rahilly, who is 6-foot and 175 pounds, won the unique eight-player Dream Team “athlete” position, sometimes called the “hybrid” as it usually involves a player who is involved in multiple areas of the offense.

Rahilly earned the distinction with 839 receiving yards and 11 TDs on 39 receptions, which included 15 catches of at least 20 yards.

But also mixed in there were 389 yards and nine more TDs on 55 rushing attempts.

And there was his 8 of 15 passing for 217 yards and one more TD.

The Indians’ other Dream Teamer was junior Gabe Luck at defensive end.

At 6-1 and 190, Luck had 97 tackles, 19 for losses, four QB sacks, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries with one recovery returned for a TD.

Three more Newberry players earned First Team berths.

Senior Blake Doke, 6-1 and 225, was the top vote getter on the offensive line’s First Team. He was the Indians’ starting center, making nothing but shotgun snaps, and was named First Team in the GL8 East.

Newberry set a school record for points scored and the team’s offensive line allowed just five QB sacks.

Marco Juarez, a 5-8, 170-pound senior, also led in votes for First Team at running back after he missed the Dream Team by a single vote.

He ran the ball 148 times for 1,229 yards, an 8.3-yard average, and caught four passes for 89 yards as he totaled 17 TDs.

Team stats showed he gained 878 yards after contact, meaning more than two-thirds of his yards came by throwing off defenders.

And tying for the most First Team votes at linebacker was the Indians’ Zach Burton.

The 6-foot, 190-pound senior captain was second in voting for GL8 East Defensive Player of the Year as he had 104 tackles, 54 solo, and 17 for loss, 4 1/2 QB sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.



Top honors in Eben went to a defender and a kick returner.

On defense, junior Elijah Penney, 6-foot and 160 pounds, earned First Team on the defensive line with seven forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, a QB hurry and several pass deflections. He was GR8 East honorable mention.

Meanwhile, senior Wyatt Kulik, 5-7, 140, was named First Team as a return specialist.

He had 17 kickoff returns for 477 yards, an average of 28 yards per return. He also had 90 rushing carries for 699 yards, a 7.8-yard average, with five TDs.

Teammate Lucas Swetich was actually a Special Mention once and twice more an Honorable Mention.

The 5-8, 145-pound senior got his best honor as a returner, though he was also considered on offense and defense.

Despite missing the first two games, he had 73 rushes for 577 yards, nearly eight yards per carry, along with 55 tackles on defense and 164 return yards as he scored six TDs.

Junior Jason Kanerva earned Special Mention on the offensive line. At 6-foot, 250, he joined Penney as anchoring both sides of the Cougars’ line.

New head coach Joshua Trader cited Penney and Kanerva for not missing a practice all season and being in for almost every play.

“They don’t get a ton of accolades, but these two are the type of guys you want on your team,” Trader was quoted in his nomination.

And junior Emmett Vining earned Honorable Mention at linebacker. At 5-9, 165, Vining had 44 tackles in seven games, registering a QB sack and a tackle for loss, listed by his coach as “the backbone of our defense.”

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.


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