POWERS, Mich. (WJMN) – The North Central Jets are preparing to take flight in 2022 en route to what they hope is back-to-back-to-BACK state championships.
“If you’re going to put the ‘Jets’ on your jersey, you know what the expectations are,” said Leo Gorzinski, the Head Coach for North Central. “These guys, they want to be a legacy team. They want to be known and go down in history for what they’ve accomplished. They’ve worked hard all summer once again, attended some really good quality camps, and the guys put in the work. So, we expect the best out of them.”
Since 2016, the North Central Football program has accumulated a .911 winning percentage which is fourth best in the entire state of Michigan in the 8-man league. They’ve also won 24 straight games, which is the second longest active streak in the state (stats via: Michigan-football.com). But what’s been the driving force behind all the success? The fear of failure.
“Any of these small town communities everybody knows everybody,” said Gorzinski. “Everybody knows the people before them. I’ve said this before last year, nobody that plays for North Central wants to be the team that lets it go. Nobody wants to lose that first game because their brother was on that team, and their cousin was on that team. They want to maintain that level of play. They know and they relish the fact that they have a target on their back.”
Dillon Raab is the younger brother of Wyatt Raab who was a member All-U.P. Dream Team last season and the UPSSA 8-man defensive player of the year. The senior wide receiver and linebacker is looking to make a similar impact for the Jets in 2022.
“I have all the confidence in the world for this team,” said Raab. “We did lose a lot of people last year. We had some of the most talented seniors in the state for 8-man. But one thing a lot of people forget is all year while Wyatt Raab, Lane Nehring, and Alex Naser are tearing it up, four days a week there are all these backups playing against these guys all season. So everyone out here, they’re ready to go. They want their chance to be the star of the team. So I’m not too worried. I feel like we know what the goal is.”
All eyes will be on the senior quarterback and reigning 8-man UPSSA Offensive Player of the Year, Luke Gorzinski. Last season Gorzinski put up some eye-popping numbers both through the air and on the ground. He threw for 1,009 yards with a 73.7 completion percentage and 14 touchdowns. He has yet to throw an interception in his career. Gorzinski rushed for 1,133 yards and scored 18 touchdowns. His goals for the upcoming season are simple.
“To do well, succeed and be a good leader for these guys is most important to me,” said Gorzinski. “Once again, I have a lot of cousins and brothers on the team and stuff like that. To see them and be a role model for them is something that’s pretty special.”
It’s no secret the Jet’s strength is their speed in all three phases of the game. On offense, the Jets were near unstoppable putting up 57.2 points per game. They have no plans of slowing down this season. In fact, their goal is to hit the throttle a little harder.
“Hopefully coach Leo will let Luke sling it out a little bit more this year,” said Raab. It’s a lot of fun to watch him throw these 50-yard bombs.”
“We’re going to figure out what works best for this team and we’re going to use it for our advantage whichever that is,” said L. Gorzinski. “Whether we got to pound the ball, run the ball, pass the ball, sling the ball, whatever you want to call it. We’re going to do whatever works best for this group and their personalities.”
On defense, the Jets were equally impressive, only allowing opponents 3.3 points per game.
“Everyone knows that we can run really fast forward, a lot of the stuff we’re doing tonight is getting fast backward,” said Gorzinski. “We don’t want anyone to have a chance, I’m sorry. We’re coming after the ball on offense and we’re coming after the ball on defense just as well. We got a lot of hip work, a lot of defensive work we’re doing right now. A lot of ball handling stuff as well.”
The Jet’s strengths are apparent. But how about a weakness?
“A weakness? Um,” said Raab.
The confidence has been earned, but this North Central team knows the journey back to the top is not guaranteed and they’re making sure they are putting in the work
“Everybody knows what our expectations are,” said Leo Gorzinski. “These guys work hard all Summer and they know what to expect the first day when we come up here. We prefer to practice bright and early in the morning when the sun comes up and it’s just us and the grass. We love this, we want to be together and we want to get better at everything we do.”
The Jets kick off their season on August 26th on the road at Ironwood.