UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WJMN) – It is not hard to look to what lies ahead here in the playoffs, but what’s making it easier all of the great matchups we have to close out the regular season with. A lot is on the line for week 9 teams who are trying to capture conference titles, play themselves into the postseason and get that home-field advantage. One major matchup for week 9 will include the undefeated North Central Jets as they travel to Crystal Falls to take on the Forest Park Trojans.
The jets have been dominant this season – something that is not very surprising given their program’s track record over the last half-decade or so. They have an opportunity to capture a conference title and gain that coveted home-field advantage with a win.
“Since we came into 8-man and Crystal came into 8-man, that is why we consider it a rivalry,” said Leo Gorzinski, Head Coach of North Central Football. “We no longer play Bark River, so Crystal has slid into that spot. They’ve knocked us out of the playoffs a couple of times and actually got a title before we did. We’re just trying to return the favor every time we play them now. Their a proud storied tradition. They don’t disguise stuff, they don’t try and do anything fancy. They want to come in and play the game of football. So, you got to understand in this game you’re going to need to play physical. You got to block, you got to tackle, and you got to be ready to take a mouthful, plain and simple. That’s what we love about these guys. So, it’s a big week.”
The Jets are no strangers to playing deep into the post-season and they look primed to once again raise a state championship this year. Describing this season’s Jets team as impressive would be putting it lightly. They sit at 8 – 0 on the season, with their last loss coming all the way back to 2019 to Pickford in the playoffs. They will look to cap off a perfect regular season for the second season in a row this Friday.
“The group that was before us went and got it done and the mystic that they brought,” said Gorzinski. “Now, we’re that team now. When you wear Jets, I say this all the time, when you cross that gate and walk-up in our field, you know what the expectation is. You’re going to look at that scoreboard and see records and the other stuff that’s up there and you want to be a part of that and you are a part of that. Now, you do not want to be the team that lets it down. You’re not wanting to be that group that gets that first loss, you do not want to be the group that disappoints the fans and stuff like that. These kids take that to heart and they know it. We’ve just been in a very fortunate stage with the athletes that we have, the depth that we have that we’ve been able to keep people fresh, keep people healthy, and keep the tradition rolling.”
The Forest Park Trojans sit at 7 – 1 entering their toughest matchup for the regular season. They have been impressive under Head Coach Brian Fabbri and are looking to bounce back after falling to Lake Linden-Hubbell last Saturday. Fabbri says this game is a perfect opportunity for his young team to gauge where they are at as we near the postseason.
“To me, it’s going to be to see what kind of team we have,” said Brian Fabbri, Head Coach of Forest Park Football. “To see what kind of team we have here. We’re young, we’re inexperienced, I feel good with them, I’ll go to battle with them every week. I keep telling them that. So we could either lay down and let North Central be North Central and do what they’ve done to everyone else. Or we can get up and show them what we’re made of and show the U.P. a little bit about Forest Park. That’s my goal to get the town back involved, the mystic, I’d like to get our crowds back and our stadium filled up. Just get the community behind us against and I don’t think there would be anything better than giving North Central as much as they can handle.”
The Trojans are not too far removed from a state title run of their own, they took the championship back home in 2017. Forest Park is a prideful program and are looking to restore that magic to the team. It seems like the Trojan squad is on the fast route in that direction under Coach Fabbri who can not afford to make any mistakes if they want to upset the Jets.
“They’ll play tight, they’ll run the ball, they’ll spread you out, they’ll throw the ball,” said Fabbri. “They’re very fast, very athletic, they’re very aggressive and a team you would love to coach, a team you would love to play on. The Jets will put points on the board, defensively, they’ve given up 13 points all year which is amazing in 8-man football. The turnover battle will be huge, time of possession, penalties. All the little things add up a big game where you can’t make those mistakes if you’re going to try and beat a team like North Central.”
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