Prep football: Calumet spills Patriots, 14-8
ISHPEMING — It may have been one of the most anticipated games of the season among Upper Peninsula football fans.
Calumet and Westwood had two defensive battles on the gridiron last season, the second game a playoff tilt that ended 6-0 in favor of the Copper Kings.
With the teams meeting for the first time in 2019 on Friday night, the story hasn’t changed much at all.
Defense was key once again as Calumet defeated the Patriots 14-8.
The Copper Kings (3-0) used second- and third-quarter touchdown receptions from junior Dean Loukus and senior Nick Djerf to gain the lead, while the Patriots (1-2) didn’t crack the scoreboard until senior Chad Pohlman found the end zone with 54 seconds remaining in the game.
“I still say our games with them last year were the two best games in the U.P. and this one didn’t disappoint for the people that were here,” Calumet head coach John Croze said. “It was a great game and there was great fight on both teams. There’s a lot of mutual respect on both sides because it was just a clean, hard-hitting and hard-played game.
“Both teams defenses are just so strong and make you earn everything you get offensively. Our defense is doing great. Guys like (senior) Alex Studebaker on the line, (senior) Jayden Gariepy at linebacker, (senior) Will Twardzik at linebacker and Nick Djerf filling they alleys from the safety position. Those guys just do so well for us. Our team defense is just awesome. We’ve got 11 guys flying to the ball all the time.”
Mistakes were critical for the Patriots, who fumbled on its first offensive play from scrimmage and committed several other minor errors that caused the Patriots to drop their third straight game to the Copper Kings over the last two seasons.
“It was a good battle,” Westwood head coach Scott Syrjala said. “It’s starting to turn into a little bit of a rivalry with them, and unfortunately, three times we’ve been on the short end of the stick.
“We’re not going to win ball games fumbling on the 1-yard line, giving up a touchdown pass when it’s third and long or snapping the ball over our head on a punt. We’re not going to do it, we’re not going to win a lot of ball games. We’ve got to stop our mistakes.
“And it’s not like we have kids who are undisciplined, we’ve got great kids. But I don’t understand why those things happen, I really don’t.”
Syrjala also credited the Copper Kings defense, while being unable to contain the 6-foot-1, 220-pound Studebaker off of the defensive line.
“Calumet’s got a stout defense,” he said. “We couldn’t block No. 68 (Studebaker) all night, nobody on our team could.”
Pohlman, senior quarterback Taylor Dellangelo and senior running back Erik Anderson combined for 161 of Westwood’s 167 rushing yards, but it wasn’t enough against the Copper Kings defense and missed gaps.
“Our backs, we missed the holes,” Syrjala said. “You can’t miss the hole. You can miss it once, but there were probably three, four or five times we were missing the hole (tonight).”
Each team came up empty in the first quarter, with Calumet getting stopped on each of its first-quarter drives on fourth down pass plays. The Patriots only ran two plays on offense in the first frame, with the first being a fumble and the second a run play that ran out the clock.
Both sides had their chances in the second, but it wasn’t until the final minute of the half that Calumet scored the first touchdown of the game.
The Copper Kings set up shop at the Westwood 20 after a short punt, and shortly after on a first and goal from the 9-yard line, Calumet senior quarterback Scott Loukus found Dean Loukus in the end zone. The conversion from Scott Loukus was good to put the Copper Kings up 8-0 with 42 seconds remaining in the half.
Calumet found the scoreboard again with 1:29 remaining in the third, this time on a 4th-and-6 play from the Patriots 35. Loukus rainbowed a pass deep over the middle to Djerf who made a diving grab in the end zone. The conversion attempt failed this time, but it was a 14-0 lead for the Copper Kings enterting the final frame.
The Patriots scored in the fourth quarter on a 5-yard TD run with 54 seconds remaining. Dellangelo completed a pass to senior Mason Mariuzza in the corner of the end zone for the conversion to make it 14-8.
Westwood attempted an onside kick, but it was immediately scooped up by the Calumet hands team, and the Copper Kings were able to line up in victory formation from there.
Scott Loukus went 6 of 12 through the air with 82 yards for the Copper Kings, while Djerf led the Copper Kings ground game with 42 yards on eight carries. Calumet had 92 yards total on the ground on 29 carries.
Dellangelo finished 2 of 5 for 28 yards through the air, while Pohlman led the ground game with 10 carries for 77 yards.
Westwood had 11 first downs to Calumet’s eight.
Calumet hosts West Iron County (3-0) on Friday, while Westwood visits Ishpeming (3-0).