CALUMET, Mich. (WJMN) – Just a few games into their 2022 season, the Calumet Football team found themselves backed into a corner.

The Copper Kings fell to both Negaunee and Gladstone to begin their season, but their confidence never waivered.

“Starting off with those two teams, it was a rough start,” said Josh Frantti, the head coach for the Copper Kings. “But when you look back at it, overall I thought our team did a great job battling through adversity. It’s just what our kids do. They like to battle and when they get put in tough spots they keep fighting.”

As their season progressed, Calumet found their groove.

“Last year was fun,” Said Frantti. “We ended up 6-3 and in the playoffs with a tough game against Menominee. It was a fun back and forth game and a great way to end the season.”

Entering the 2023 season, the Copper Kings are bought in and ready to make another push to the playoffs under second year head coach, Josh Frantti.

“The kids did a great job buying into our offseason program,” said Frantti. “We had about 60 kids working out from about spring break until the start of camp. So, just seeing them grow and kind of buy in and really adding to our program I’m just excited to see where it takes us.”

With a newly expanded West-Pac conference, the road back to the postseason will not be an easy one for the Copper Kings.

“We just got to be fast and physical,” said Frantti. “With the new West-Pac and adding some good teams like Escanaba, Kingsford, Menominee, and Gladstone, we get to play Escanaba week one, we have to be ready physically. We’ve always like the physical kind of game. but in the back of their minds I’ve been hammering that it has to be speed and physical. One playoff football comes, it’s physical and smash-mouth football. Playing the schedule that we are now, I want to say it’s probably our toughest schedule we’ve every had. So, we’re excited for the challenge and looking forward to every week.”

In order to reach their goals this season, the Copper Kings will be relying on a lot of new faces.

“We lost some good player in Levi Kilpela, Brayden Nelson, and Amar Patterson and more,” said Frantti. “That senior class last year really helped us get through. Now it’s time for the juniors last year and seniors this year to fill in those leadership roles. There’s some good juniors that are stepping up that were kind of surprises. So, just kind of filling in those pieces.”

Helping lead the Copper Kings this year will be senior all-conference linebacker, Alan Bjorn.

“He’s going to be a three year starter for us at linebacker and the tight end and wing spot,” said Frantti. “He’s just one of those kids that works hard and he’s always there. He’s been a top player in the U.P. the last two years and we’re expecting to put a lot on his shoulders.”

“I just try and keep everyone at their max intensity that they have and keep everyone chugging,” siad Bjorn. “Just never stop, never give up no matter what the scenario is in a game or in practice, you just keep going.”

On offense, the biggest question mark for the Copper Kings comes under center.

“Garrett Peterson is stepping in at quarterback for us this year,” said Frantti. “He does a great job. He’s a great read-type of quarterback. He’s one of those quiet leaders that just works hard.”

Peterson will have a hungry supporting cast who is eager to prove they belong.

“Cam Anderson has done a great job running the ball for us and he’s going to be our tailback,” said Frantti. “Gavin Sturos is another young kid, a junior that’s going to be out on the edge. Alex Tarnowsky is a tough hard-nosed kids that play receiver and d-back for us and does a great job out on the perimeter.”

While success is never guaranteed, coach Frantti says you can expect the Copper Kings to give everything they have on the field, starting week one on the road against Escanaba on August 25th.

“We have very blue collared, hard working kids,” said Frantti. “They love to show up because they love the game and they love the tradition that Calumet football has been the last 30 years and I don’t see it changing anytime soon.”