CALUMET, Mich. (WJMN) – A new era of Calumet Football will begin in 2022 with the arrival of first-year head coach, Josh Frantti.

Frantti takes over for legendary head coach John Croze who retired at the end of last season. Croze spent 31 years at Calumet with 22 years as the head coach, compiling a 143-71. He was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association this past April.

It’s been awesome,” said Frantti. “Taking over for Coach Croze is obviously some big shoes to fill and us as a coaching staff we take the pretty seriously and we’re excited to get going.”

Frantti says he’s not planning on changing the formula for success that Croze created during his time with the Copper Kings.

“I’ve said it since the beginning, I don’t want to fix something that’s not broken,” said Frantti. “There will be some tweaks here and there, some new wrinkles, obviously, which comes with football but our base philosophy is we’re coming off the ball and we’re going to hit for four quarters.”

While the philosophies will stay the same, the personnel will be different. Hans Kiilunen takes over at quarterback after the departure of Paul Sturos.

“Hans Kiilunen has stepped into that quarterback role for Pauly and has done a great job leading,” said Frantti. “On both sides of the ball, he’s playing linebacker for us as well but doing a great job at quarterback.”

“He’s a great player,” said Aksel Loukus, a senior receiver, running back, and safety for Calumet. “He played a couple of games for us last year when Sturos was hurt. So, he played really well and from last year to this year it’s night and day.”

“It’s going to be fun taking it over and it will be fun taking control, too,” said Killunen. “We should have a pretty good backfield so it should be fun to see how that goes throughout the whole season.”

The Copper Kings lose one of the most electrifying players in U.P. football last season in All U.P. Dream Team running back, Dryden Nelson. They do have options in the backfield, one being Brayden Nelson, the younger brother of Dryden.

“He and Aksel (Loukus) have both been taking tailback reps,” said Frantti. “They’re kind of fluid with where they’re playing. They can kind of do it all.”

And while the brothers do share similar characteristics on the field, Brayden Nelson does add an extra flair to the running back room.

“In track, he (Brayden) barely lost to him (Dryden) in the 100 meters (dash),” said Killunen. “He’s still got the speed, maybe not quite as shifty but he’s more of a power back than a shifty like Dryden was but he should be good I think.”

“He’s a bigger guy and he likes to run people over so it should be a really good add,” said Loukus. “He fast and he should be really good. Dryden might still have a step on him but he’s still up there.”

All is not lost for the Copper Kings, they welcome back West-Pac Defensive Player of the Year, and All-U.P. Dream Teamer Alan Bjorn.

“He had a great season last year, he was the defensive player of the year in our conference as a sophomore,” said Frantti. “We’re expecting a lot of the same. He does a great job leading our defense. He’s playing full-back and wing for us in our offense. Obviously, all of his recognition was on the defensive side of the ball but he does a great job on both sides.”

“Whenever we need a couple of yards we can always count on him,” said Killunen. “Even if there’s nowhere to go he’ll still get a few yards almost every play and he brings good leadership to the team too. He’s always on the clean-up with the big hits and he gets a lot of tackles every single game. So, he’s definitely a key part of our defense.”

Despite the changes, fans can still expect the same Calumet Football team when they take the field.

“Expect the same,” said Frantti. “We love playing football and we’re going to have fun doing it. We pride ourselves on trying to have to most fun every time we step out on the field and we’ll see what happens.”

Calumet opens up their season on the road against Gladstone on August 26th.