POWERS, Mich. (WJMN) – The North Central Jets enter the 2023 high school football season coming off of plenty of recent success with three consecutive state championships under Head Coach Leo Gorzinski.
Despite the departure of multiple key seniors from the 2022 squad, Gorzinski says the coaching staff’s expectations remain the same.
“It’s the same mentality we go in with every year, you know, you’re never going to replace those 13 seniors that left. We had some great ones in that group, but this group right here, they’ve also been in the program,” Gorzinski said. “They’ve been here since they were freshman all the way through. They’ve got minutes during the season, so they know what the expectations are so it’s the same. We’re going to carry on and that’s the model, that we’re just gonna keep going one day at a time, keep grinding.”
Now in their second week of training camp leading up to the season, a big focus for the team is getting everyone up to speed to find the right pieces to fill in each spot left open after 2022.
“Right now it’s different personnel. We have some really skilled guys over there,” Gorzinski said. “The guys that we have right now are athletic kids. So now it’s just trying to determine which variations of our players in with schemes and concepts that work best for this group.”
“Really just getting everybody aggressive,” said Senior Max Nason. “You know, everybody’s been off, had a good summer. Last season, not everybody on this team has played as much as I have or anything. So we’re trying to get everybody just as aggressive and really getting down our main steps. Making sure everybody’s in the right place at the right time.”
For players like Nason, who’s entering his fourth season as a part of the varsity squad, that experience is a useful tool to help impart knowledge on some of the younger players coming up through the program as they adjust to an overhauled roster.
“I was moved up to varsity as a freshman coming out of eighth grade and then going into my freshman year of varsity,” Nason said. “So playing since then, to now kind of realize there’s all these obstacles in your way as a team, but also as a player. I really want some of these young guys to figure it out, too, so when they get to my age they’re doing this all over again. Hopefully more state championships and everything and they’ve realized you got to push through some major stuff, you know, playing against grown men. You could be a freshman, who’s 14, 15 playing against an 18-year-old, it’s difficult.”
Even after winning five titles within a decade, continuing to find success doesn’t come without a drive to continue to improve everyday. That mentality of the program’s culture is something the coaches work to drive home in the players each time they step on the field.
“They’re always telling us to push ourselves, like when we’re doing our beginning stuff or beginning drills,” said Senior Adrian Marcier. “They always push us. I want to win again, you know, I’m hungry. I want to battle.”
“Our expectations here aren’t going to change. You want to cross that gate and come up onto this grass, they’re expected to win football games,” Gorzinski said. “They work hard all summer. They put in the time, they’ve gotten to watch other kids doing it, now it’s their time to step up and it’s up to them to get it done.”
While a championship is always the ultimate goal for the Jets, they’re taking it one day at a time as they prepare for their first game against Ironwood on August 25
“They love it. They’re having fun, they’re fresh. They’re not wearing the target like you think they would be. They’re just coming out here and are having a good time,” Gorzinski said. “The ultimate goal is always the same. You start this time of the year, if you’re not expecting a state championship, don’t bother coming out here. Whether you reach that goal or not, it’s not the not the end all be all, but it’s what you’re striving for, especially when the season starts. I want you working out for that goal. From there, just get better at your spot. Learn everything as best as you can. Put in the time, you will get better.”