POWERS, Mich. (WJMN) – It was a cold and damp day in Powers on November 9th, 2019. On that date, the undefeated North Central Jets welcomed the undefeated Pickford Panthers for a must watch Division 2 Regional Championship game. It was a game the Jets lost, 22-14.
“Having losses like that, it’s what builds programs like this,” said Luke Gorzinski, a senior quarterback and defensive back for the Jets. “Being as successful as we have been, you got to understand that there is another side to football, there is a losing side to football. There are teams that come out here and play with the same aspirations that we have every day. So, being on that side it brought us here together. Being challenged like that, we felt that feeling and we don’t want to feel that again.”
“I remember being a freshman on that team and witnessing the loss and everybody was sad, ” said Jordan Messenger, a senior tight end and defensive end for the Jets. “I think if anything it just fueled us to do better, strive to do better so we never face that feeling that them seniors did and that team did.”
“The best thing that happened was that these guys here they realized that holy crap, these guys right here as good as what they are can lose a game,” said Leo Gorzinski, head coach for the Jets. “From that moment on, this group right here became a unit.”
The Jets used that defeat as fuel. Since walking off that muddy field in 2019, North Central has put together one of the most impressive runs we’ve ever seen. Last Saturday, the Jets topped Lake Linden-Hubbell, winning the 28th straight game. A new 8-man state record.
“I think we all felt pretty confident going into the game,” said Dillon Raab, a senior running back and defensive back for the Jets. “Winning it was pretty awesome. It was a really exciting game and everyone played really well. Lake Linden is a hard-hitting team. So, that made it a little more fun to get some bumps and bruises and get the ‘W’.”
“You know, we get a lot of awards as individuals and stuff like that but the biggest one you look for in a football team is winning and a successful program,” said Luke Gorzinski. “28 wins straight that’s pretty awesome success that you had and it correlates to not just only our football team but our community and all backing that we get behind the scenes. All of it comes together and there is so much behind the scenes, and with so much work you put in it’s pretty awesome to feel that.”
“Honestly, it’s the group of kids that we have here and the tradition that was set at North Central,” said Leo Gorzinski. “There is something to having a backbone and these guys recognize those other guys, they see it. Once you know what you can accomplish you start to believe it. These guys show up to practice everyday with a mark on their back. They know that they’re the target. They don’t want to be the team that let’s it go now.”
While 28 straight victories is something to be proud of, the Jets aren’t satisfied. They’re looking to reach even higher heights.
“It’s another accolade you can put in your book and hang up on the wall when I’m 30, you know?” said Luke Gorzinski. “Right now, we got bigger aspirations and bigger goals and if that’s going to be another distraction for us then we got to look past it and keep getting better everyday and not get complacent.”
“We’re focused on the next team,” said Messenger. “We want to win another championship this year.”
“Just keep doing what we’re doing and not fix what’s not broken,” said Raab. “Just keep playing hard and keep working as a team. Know our assignments, we’ve been doing a lot of film. We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves but we’re preparing for teams down the road. The train is rolling and you don’t want to get ran over so get off the tracks.”
“It’s the same approach that we do every year,” said Leo Gorzinski. “We’re going to come up here and play every game. It’s the next game, it’s not what’s down the road. This week we have Stephenson. We’re focused completely on Stephenson. Numbers and records and stuff that’s something that we’re going to look back on when it’s all over with and at the end of the year we’ll look back on it. Right now, this isn’t the enjoyable time of the season, this is the work time.”
The Jets do make time for team bonding activities including their ‘Wing Wednesday’ at a local restaurant.
“‘R-Place’ is just a local restaurant where we come after practice every Wednesday and get wings with the team,” said Raab. “A lot of the times R-Place will give the team free pizza. So, it’s a nice little hangout spot and this is just where we do a lot of our team bonding at. We’re at practice battling each other and sometimes it gets a little scrappy. This just gives us some time to reflect on it and cool down, you know, have some food and laughs. We talk about practice, talk about the games coming up and it’s just a nice time to relax and it’s a place where we can just hang out with each other and have some good food.”
North Central travels to Stephenson this Friday night as they look to extend their wins streak to 29 straight games.