POWERS, Mich. (WJMN) -For the North Central Jets their dominance in the 8-Player League for the last decade has been well documented.
Leo Gorzinski took over as head coach of the Jets program is 2018. At that time, North Central was already a state power after winning multiple state championships.
With Gorzinski at the helm, winning continued to be the standard. Multiple undefeated seasons which included three straight state championships from 2018-2022 put the Jets in rarefied air.
“The amazing thing is all of the athletes that God has blessed us with over here,” said Gorzinski. “We have a whole generation. When you can go through a couple of separate classes and have turnover like we’ve had and not miss a beat, it’s an amazing thing. What they’ve pulled off and what they’ve been able to do is nothing short of phenomenal.”
This season, the Jets began yet another state title defense looking to make it four straight state championships.
Early in their campaign, the Jets found themselves in some turbulence. In September, they had their state record 41 game win streak snapped with a 28-25 defeat to Lake Linden-Hubbell.
North Central’s state title streak would end in early November with a 37-18 loss to the Lakes in the Regional Finals.
“We do feel like we fell short,” said Gorzinski. “I felt like our team had every bit of a chance. We knew we didn’t have the depth like we have had in the past but it was going to be a huge milestone for us.”
Gorzinski was surprised when he found out shortly after the conclusion of the Jets season, that he was selected as the Michigan High School Coaches Association 2023 Coach of the Year. It is the first time Gorzinski has won the award.
“When I first heard about it, I didn’t feel like I was worthy,” said Gorzinski. “It was hard to comprehend because there are so many great coaches and so many great programs out there. You stop and think about it and what an honor it is, not for me, but for our school, the community, and the small program that we have. This wasn’t a ‘me’ award. This is recognizing all the people that have been with us from the start.”
Last Sunday, Gorzinski traveled to Lansing to accept the award at the Michigan High School Coaches Association annual banquet. He says all the credit goes to his players and coaching staff.
“I was the only coach from Upper Michigan for anything down there,” said Gorzinski. “So, for them to recognize what we’ve accomplished over here, it was a huge honor. I’m just a guy that gets to go up on a football field and do what I enjoy doing. I’m very fortunate that I get to work with the kids that we have and the commitment they make to this program.”
For those wondering what the future holds for the program, don’t expect the Jets to go anywhere. Gorzinski says the loss has reignited a fire within his team and they’re already back to work getting ready for next season.
“We always feel like we’re in the thick of it,” said Gorzinski. “Trust me the fire has been stoked. It stings a little bit. We’re going to take the kids to the Dome on Saturday (8-Player State Finals) and let it burn a little bit more.”