POWERS, Mich. (WJMN) – The North Central Jets are looking to continue their streak of three consecutive state championships as they head into the 2023 high school football playoffs to face the Posen Vikings. In comparison to the past three years, though, the team has faced some larger bumps in the road after losing some key seniors from the 2022 squad.
“I want to say it went as expected,” said Head Coach Leo Gorzinski. “You know, we knew what the caliber of team we had, we knew what caliber competition we were going to face. We dropped a couple this year, obviously that’s not the norm, but that’s actually where everybody fits and belongs. But the honest to God truth, these players that we had come, we had a lot of practices where we had six players suit up to practice. So what they accomplished to go 7-2, you know, I’m proud of them.”
After three undefeated seasons, the Jets dropped games to Lake Linden-Hubbell and Norway. However, the team decided to take some positives from the losses.
Lane: “It was definitely huge impact, huge wake up call,” said Junior Lane Gorzinski. “It told us that we need to work hard and practice and just be the best we can be.”
Willa: I think they did pretty good on getting some passes, some short passes. That was our main killer,” said Junior Spencer Willa. “We focused a lot on the passing and defense for that and trying to push and drive to the quarterback more on defense.”
“It didn’t change our outlook. It was good, you know. Obviously the first one, that got that monkey off their back,” said Leo Gorzinski “You can let it go, the streak, that stuff. But it also what Lake Linden showed us with some of the different things and defenses and looks at people are going to give us so it was actually good to go back to work and have to coach things and work against some things that are different, you know, where we need to get better and improve. And the kids soaked it all in.”
Despite an overhauled roster, the team feels they’ve come together during the season to take shape into a contending squad.
“It definitely felt like there’s a bunch of people stepping up,” said Lane Gorzinski. “Freshmen, kids from every grade, really. You’ve got sophomore stepping up, freshmen, me and all the seniors are really taking charge and that.”
Willa: “We had quite a few kids who stepped up for this team this year,” Willa said. “We had a lot of linemen who left and I feel we have filled those spots pretty good. And I think we’ve been doing good. We have a freshman on our team and he’s been filling the role pretty well.”
“Once the season got rolling, there’s no way to replace some of those players we had,” said Leo Gorzinski. “Obviously, we had a phenomenal run, a phenomenal group of players. But the players that did step up and do this, you know, we may not have elite players, but we have a lot of really good players. But what they have is heart. They have heart and grit and I’ll take that kind of player any day. And these guys, they stepped in those footsteps and they they did their work.
Now heading into the playoffs, the team sees their path to success through sound fundamentals, and playing the North Central style of football they’ve grown accustom to.
“We really want to get in the backfield as fast as we can,” Willa said. “I think that’s our main thing, defensive line, offensive line, getting to the hit the fastest.”
“We just need to play North Central football,” said Lane Gorzinski. “Hit hard, be fast, be aggressive. I mean, we’re not trying to overlook anyone. In the playoffs, you can’t do that now. We’re just trying to be who we are, just play how we play.”
“It’s just focus on overcoming those little things,” Leo Gorzinski. “Let’s cut down on our own mistakes and do what we do and just keep getting better week by week.”