MUNISING, Mich. (WJMN) – Entering their regional final game against Newberry, the Munising Mustangs number one focus was to establish the run game early. It’s a big part of the formula that got Munising through the regular season without a single loss. There’s another layer to their success that many didn’t expect.

“We’re a heavy run team, we don’t throw the ball a ton,” said Matt Mattson, the head coach for the Mustangs. “The weather was horrible and the field conditions weren’t great so it dictated that we were going to run the football a lot.”

The Mustangs did just that. Senior quarterback Kane Nebel broke off a 40 yard run in the first quarter to give the Mustangs an early 8-0 lead. Nebel would find the end zone again in the second quarter with a 17 yard scramble to put Munsing up 14-0. That’s when adversity struck.

“Midway through the second quarter our quarterback Kane Nebel went down,” said Mattson. “He had 18 carries at the time for 141 yards in a quarter and a half so we were running the ball successfully at that time.”

Munising would enter the half up 14-6 but with Nebel out with a shoulder injury Mattson had to go to Plan – B. He decided he was going to lean on one of his other senior leaders.

“At halftime I said, ‘Josiah, we’re going to give you the ball a lot be honest and let me know because we’ll snap it to your brother after that and we’ll snap it to Jacob after that if we have to but this is going to be our plan for the second half,'” Mattson. “He never told me he was tired.”

“At halftime we came into the locker room and coach told me what was going on,” said Josiah Peramaki, a senior running back and linebacker for the Mustangs. “So, I kind of switched into that leadership mode.”

What Mattson did not know after halftime talk was Peramaki had no plans to leave the field. This was the moment he was waiting for all season long.

“My mindset is to not show any weakness,” said Josiah Peramaki. “That’s what I did, I didn’t show any weakness.”

When all was said and done, Peramaki carried the ball 67 times for 316 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Thanks to his performance the Mustangs were regional champions.

“He’s been short changed carries-wise,” said Mattson. “He only had 97 carries going into the game, or only 94 carries on the season which he was under-used because he’s a fantastic back. Now he’s up to 150 carries and 15 hundred yards. So, never did I think we’d give 67 carries to one kid. I’ve been coaching a long time and Ishpeming gave their tailback the ball 51 times against me back in 1998 and I thought that was a ton. We walked off and somebody said he was in the 50’s for carries and my assistant coach came down and he said it was 65 or 67 and then after watching film it was 67. So, I’m glad Josiah feels okay but also we had 90 total rushes which I believe is a state record also. So, our offensive line was out there the whole time, our center did a great job snapping the shotgun snap, but we had 47 consecutive snaps in the second half that went to Josiah Peramaki.”

“I didn’t even realize that I carried it over 40 times,” said Peramaki. “I knew it was a lot but in the game it doesn’t feel like it was a lot of plays.”

“It’s a great team that we have,” said Mattson. “I use ‘team’ as a true word for this team because we have people that have stepped up and done numerous things and it was just Josiah’s night to take over and we were going to ride him as long as we could.”

Behind Peramaki’s big night running the ball the Mustangs would go on to win the game over Newberry 39-22 and capture a district title.

At first 67 carries in a football game could look like a shocking number. But when you learn about the person Josiah is off the field his performance should come to no surprise.

“I want to be a Navy Seal,” said Peramaki. “The Navy Seal aspect comes from I’ve been scuba diving for four and a half years now. I just love the water, I love the whole aspect of being able to attack from under water.”

His strength and determination in all aspects makes Peramaki an asset to whatever team he’s on.

“I think the 67 carries was the one more, the one more mindset,” said Peramaki. “It’s the same thing for the seal training. It’s one more day. You just got to make it to lunch, after lunch you have to make it to the next evolution and then you got to make it into bed.”

Whether Peramaki’s next steps take him to the classroom, on the field, or places beyond his peers and coaches are confident he’ll hit the ground running.

“Josiah Peramaki is a 4.0 student,” said Mattson. “He’s going to go on to college and probably play college football but he also wants to go into the military. I think he want to be a Green Beret or one of those higher elite fighting machines. 67 carries in a football game you’re well on your way to doing those types of things and serving your country. I got a feeling he’s going to go to college and get himself a degree and then be an officer in the military at some point. I couldn’t look up to a better student athlete than Josiah Peramaki.”