ISHPEMING, Mich. (WJMN) – For the first time in over a year, the Ishpeming hematites are back practicing preparing to play football. After going 7-2 and making a run to regionals in 2019, they had their 2020 season cut short due to low numbers because of Covid-19.
“It is going to be a challenge with the missing year for these seniors, however, they have excepted the challenge up until right now,” said Ishpeming Head Coach Cody Kugler. “Especially in the summertime going to Advantage preparing themselves physically and mentally for the full length of the football game and what is needed.”
Kugler takes took over as the head coach of the varsity team after the departure of George Neimi. Kugler has deep ties to the program. He was a part of the 2012 team that won a state title under Jeff Olson.
“Our goal as a coaching staff is to be competitive just like all the prior Ishpeming teams,” said Kugler. “This group of kids has the knowledge. They know what’s expected of them, we’re right back in it. We’re going to try and get every win we can and be as competitive as possible.”
Ishpeming has been the most successful U.P. football program over the last decade. Most of the current players have memories of the Hematites winning state titles and they’re ready to add their own chapter to the program’s rich history.
“I was on Ford Field with my brother in 2012. So, it was sweet seeing it and I would hope that I would see it again,” said Luke Kostreva, a senior quarterback and defensive back for the Hematites.
“My brother played and he made it with Danny Olson and that and they came up short so I am hoping to top him,” said Dawson Delongchamp, a senior runningback, and linebacker.
“All these great guys have been getting all these championships,” said Seth Nora, sr, a senior lineman for Ishpeming. “They work their tails off all summer and all season to get those championships so we’re going to try and do the same thing.”
The Hematites kick off their season at home against Manistique on August 27th.
“Oh, it’s going to be awesome running out on the field with the band and mostly all of Ishpeming here coming to watch,” said Nora. “They didn’t get to last year so they’re going to be excited to come back. I expect it to be pretty packed.”
“I am asking for the support of the community just like our prior coaches,” said Kugler. “Whether it’s parents, fans, teachers, administration to come on out and support these Hematites, especially for what they have prepared for. I’m expecting quite a bit of electricity for our first game back for a year hiatus.”