Going for gold: Negaunee Miners football team seek big season with experience on their side | News, Sports, Jobs

Wearing his mask during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic season, Negaunee University head coach Paul Jacobson checks the scoreboard at the end of the second quarter of the Minors game against Manistique on September 18, 2020 in Negaunee . (Photos courtesy of Daryl T. Jarvinen)


schedule 2022

All times Eastern


Wearing his mask, Negaunee College Football Head Coach Paul Jacobson checks the scoreboard at the end of the second quarter of the Minors game against Manistique on Friday, September 18, 2020 in Negaunee. (Photo courtesy of Daryl T. Jarvinen)

Thursday, August 25 — IRON MOUNTAIN, 7 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 1 — at Calumet, 7 p.m.

Friday, September 9 – HANCOCK, 7 p.m.

Friday, September 16 — MANISTIQUE, 7 p.m.

Friday, September 23 — at Ishpeming, 7 p.m.

Leading Negaunee’s Philip Nelson dives into the end zone despite Ishpeming defender Dawson Delongchamp hanging on in the second quarter of their game played in Negaunee on Sept. 24, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Daryl T. Jarvinen)

Friday, Sept. 30 — L’ANSE, 7 p.m.

Friday, October 7 – at Gladstone, 7 p.m.

Friday, October 14 – at Houghton, 7 p.m.

Thursday, October 20 — WESTWOOD, 7 p.m.


Like Ishpeming’s Hunter Smith, bottom, an observer can only see the back of the Minors’ Easton Palomaki uniform as he walks away for a touchdown in their game played in Negaunee on September 24, 2021. ( Photo courtesy of Daryl T. Jarvinen)

NEGAUNEE – Every season, high school coaches and programs have to deal with the loss of key players due to graduation.

While they can’t prevent it, they can cushion the blow by allowing many juniors to gain valuable experience and then come back ready to reach greater heights as seniors.

For Paul Jacobson and the Negaunee miners, they are lucky to have this luxury coming this fall.

Last season, the Miners started the season as a young team and had great success, going 8-3. After winning against Gladstone in the first round of the MHSAA Division 6 playoffs, the Miners fell to Calumet in the District Finals. An ending like this isn’t what Jacobson or his team had in mind, but they can get something big out of it.

“The biggest takeaway from that is that we didn’t have a lot of seniors, but the seniors we had were just great people,” said Jacobson. “These are guys who played a huge part in the success of last year, and one of the biggest things they’ll bring to this year’s team is the ability to lead and show these young guys what it takes to be a good leader.”

The returning group of players includes three-year-old starter wide Philip Nelson and Miners starting fullback, tailback Easton Palomaki and fullback Nico Lukkarinen. All three improved and set up for success with a productive offseason, according to Jacobson.

The NHS is also returning a strong core of linemen who got valuable playing time last season, including seniors Drake Spickerman, Brayden Dunstan and Nate Keough, who all started Week 1 as juniors.

“Not only do we have a lot of seniors, but it’s a good group of seniors,” Jacobson said of this year’s 12th graders. “What I mean by good is that they are fun to be around. They work hard, they have acquired this ability and have seen what it takes to be a good leader. It’s a fun and entertaining bunch so far this year.

From the small number of key players Negaunee lost after last season, the team is looking to have players in place to fill those roles.

Brenten Belanger graduated after playing wide receiver and defensive back, but Nelson will be back to take charge. Bode Bonovetz, who will play for NMU this season, and Isiah Wood are leaving the NHS line, but there is depth from last season that will increase to fill in the gaps.

If there’s a question mark over this year’s team, it’s at quarterback with the loss of Gerald Johnson.

But even there, Negaunee not only found a new quarterback for this season, but for the next three with the emergence of second scholastic Ty Jacobson. Even though this Jacobson has some big shoes to fill, his uncle Paul Jacobson and his father Kevin Jacobson — the minors’ offensive coordinator — hope the transition will be easier with all the returning skill-position players around him.

“The most important thing that we try to (im)press Ty from the start is that we have experience at full-back and full-back, we have experience at recipient”, said Paul Jacobson. “(Ty) doesn’t have to make plays, he just has to be able to direct our offense and get the ball back into those guys’ hands. There wasn’t much pressure on him; he did a great job in the offseason to earn his place and prove himself to the guys around him.

It’s no secret that Negaunee has the talent and the guns to have another successful season. When the teams return to as much production as the Miners this year, they will be talked about as some of the best on the Upper Peninsula.

This season is no different on the schedule with some tough Tests to open – before Labor Day arrives, Negaunee will host Iron Mountain and play Calumet on consecutive Thursdays.

Key games later in the season include road games at Ishpeming and Gladstone, and the closer season at home against Westwood.

According to the team’s guiding source, head coach Paul Jacobson, these miners didn’t set high goals and expectations in front of them, but they focused on improving every day to get there. Getting better day by day and game by game seems to be what the miners are looking for, even at the start of the schedule.

“What I think the most important thing this group could have done was look at their short-term goals,” said the head coach. “First, it was the summer program getting stronger, getting faster and getting people into the weight room. From there, every practice improves from where you are.

“I think… you take care of short-term goals like that and get better one practice at a time. If we do, who knows where we will be.

“I know you have to be good and get lucky, but we have to make sure we take care of every step as we go down this path.”

Negaunee opens at home against Iron Mountain at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Travis Nelson can be reached by email at [email protected]

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