Champs flex their muscle

CALUMET – The momentum the Ishpeming football program built up with its state championship 10 months ago hasn’t stopped yet and didn’t even slow down Friday in a 56-12 drubbing of Calumet at Agassiz Field.

The Hematites (3-0), the No. 1 ranked Division 7 team in the first Associated Press state football poll this week, got five touchdowns from Alex Briones (three rushing, two passing) and dropped the Copper Kings to 0-3.

“We want to be versatile this year. In years past, we’ll run our tailback 40, 50 times a game. We don’t want to be that way all the time, but we’ve got some athletes this year that we can spread the ball around. Hopefully teams can’t key on one person or one area,” Ishpeming coach Jeff Olson said.

Just about everything Ishpeming tried worked, as evidenced by its mind-boggling 623 yards of total offense, 474 of them rushing.

“Overall, our line blocked very well, too. It comes down to blocking, tackling,” Olson said.

Briones himself may have been too much for Calumet to handle. Two plays after back-to-back effective runs from a shotgun snap, the senior took a step in, faked the run and threw over the top to a wide-open Mitch Laurin for a 43-yard pass.

On the next drive, Ishpeming chewed up 95 yards in six plays, the last a 35-yard run from Briones around the right side.

For the second straight drive, Calumet moved the ball via the big play, but failed to punch it in, but after eight plays, Briones ran it in from 13 yards out.

“We certainly put yards on the field. We had first downs inside the 10-yard line on our first two drives and we’re happy with that, but we can’t keep walking away leaving points on the field,” Calumet coach John Croze said.

Calumet finally started getting a couple stops late in the second quarter but its night turned from bad to worse when defensive back and starting quarterback Paul Torola suffered a suspected broken collarbone diving to defend a pass in the end zone.

Replacement Tyler Loukus threw second-half touchdown passes to Eric Lasanen and Tyler Vertin against Ishpeming’s defensive reserves, the first points scored against the Hematites in 11 quarters since last year’s state title game, but at the end, Calumet had to give credit where credit was due.

“They’ve got 11 fantastic players out there. They’ve got stars, but it’s hard to single one kid out for any accolades over anyone else,” Croze said.

Marcus Antilla led Ishpeming with 128 yards rushing, most of it on two second-half touchdown carries. Briones had 123 on 12 attempts, while three others had at least 40. Laurin caught three balls for 85 yards and two TDs.

For Calumet, Tyler Roland picked up 79 yards on eight carries, while Loukus threw for 98 on 3-of-8 passing.

Both teams play their Homecoming games next week, Ishpeming against Westwood and Calumet against Houghton.

The Copper Kings also started 0-3 last year but recovered, winning their last six games to make the playoffs.

“We’re not looking at six in a row right now. We’re looking at getting ourselves ready for Homecoming next week,” Croze said.