Wykons battle but fall to Ishpeming in district
Brandon Olson finds a path through the snowflakes at Ishpeming, as West Iron teammates Seth Miatech (54), Mykel Zaritz (51) and Shae Parson (4) supply the blocks.
ISHPEMING—The challenge facing the West Iron County Wykons in the Division 7 district final on Nov. 7 was clear and daunting.
Nothing less than a comprehensive and valiant effort from every player that took the field was going to be enough to knock off the two-time defending state champion Hematites, winners of 30 games in a row.
West Iron got that effort in a driving snowstorm that did not ease up the entire evening. But the ninth-ranked Wykons simply couldn’t muster enough offense to end Ishpeming’s run, falling to the Hematites 20-7.
With the win, Ishpeming (10-0) moves on to face No. 7 Traverse City St. Francis in the regional final. West Iron’s season ends with a 9-2 mark and memories to last for years.
“It was a great ride,” said senior defensive end Travis Bonifas. “I wouldn’t give up any of my teammates for anyone.”
The all-hands-on-deck spirit was there from the first whistle against an Ishpeming team that had outscored its previous opponents 338-66 and whose closest game previously was a 20-0 win over Beal City.
Though the Hematites seized an early 6-0 lead on a 15-play, 80-yard drive to start the game, the Wykons remained resolute. Mike Berutti’s team answered with a march to the Ishpeming 24-yard line before a missed field goal thwarted the Wykons’ first attempt to dent the scoreboard.
Nevertheless, West Iron stiffened on defense as the snow continued to pelt down and got the break it needed early in the second quarter.
On second down at its own 37, Ishpeming botched a shotgun snap. Wykon senior defensive end Max Maloney scooped up the loose ball and ran it to the Hematite 9.
Three plays later, Alec Schmelebeck took a pitch, ran left and blasted into the end zone from 2 yards out to knot the score.