2013 All-U.P. Football: Marquette, Baraga, Schoolcraft county schools land 20 on All-U.P. teams

MARQUETTE – It may be a Superiorland record.

Led by Large Schools Offensive Player of the Year Alex Briones of Ishpeming High School, a total of 20 local prep football players have earned All-U.P. honors.

Briones was one of seven IHS players – five with the “Dream Team” – to be selected for laurels Thursday by members of the U.P. Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association at a meeting at Northern Michigan University.

Briones, Jake Quayle, Mitch Laurin, Adam Prisk and Tyrus Millimaki made the All-Class team for the 9-0 Hematites, the defending state Division 7 champions.

Though quarterback Briones (6-foot-2, 215-pound senior) largely played just a half of each game due to IHS dominating its foes, he still passed for 1,050 yards and ran for 814 more. He totaled 26 touchdowns.

“He’s a huge running threat with his size and speed,” IHS head coach Jeff Olson said. “In our shotgun (formation), he also blocked. He’s a huge part of our offense.”

Quayle (5-11, 200 senior) made the “Dream Team” as an offensive guard.

“He’s our No. 1 blocker on the interior line,” Olson said. “He’s smart and a great straight-ahead blocker.”

Laurin (6-0, 208 senior) is a tight end who caught but 12 passes for 282 yards and four TDs. But the Mid-Peninsula Conference Lineman of the Year is known for his blocking ability.

“We rarely throw to our tight end, but Mitch is our No. 1 blocker,” Olson said. “He’s one of our toughest kids and one of our most important players.”

Prisk (5-11, 180 senior) is a defensive lineman who made 53 tackles – 10 behind the line of scrimmage – blocked a punt and returned another for a 27-yard TD.

“A sprinter in track, he’s quick of the ball, just explosive,” Olson said.

Millimaki (5-7, 150 senior) is another All-Class Hematite who was so dominant as a defensive back, few teams dared pass his way. Olson said only five catches were made by foes guarded by Millimaki.

“We put Tyrus on a receiver and we don’t have to worry about him,” the coach said.

Negaunee placed two players on the “Dream Team” list in Jeremy Bell and Tyler LaJoie.

A 6-4, 220 senior offensive tackle, Bell was a major reason why LaJoie ran for more than 1,300 yards this season.

“He’s very athletic,” Negaunee head coach Paul Jacobson said of Bell. “We can move him to the outside because he’s able to get up on linebackers for us.”

LaJoie (5-10, 180 senior), meanwhile, rushed for 1,312 yards (12.7 average) and scored 21 touchdowns as a running back. The co-Offensive Player of the Year in the M-PC with Briones also caught six passes for 184 yards and two TDs.

“We’ve had some excellent running backs here, but he’s the best one in my 14 years here as head coach,” Jacobson said of LaJoie. “His vision of the field is incredible, and he’s almost at a different speed and level than those around him.”

Marquette center Patrick Dowling (6-0, 180 senior) earned All-Class honors, as well.

“He’s the leader of our offensive line and makes the calls for our lineman,” MSHS head coach Dave L’Huillier said. “He’s smart and makes snaps for both our shotgun and regular formations.”

Ryan LaBerge of L’Anse made the list as a kicker. The 5-11, 155 senior made 40-of-40 extra point kicks while booting four field goals. A 39-yarder was his longest.

In Big Schools selections, Ishpeming and Negaunee placed two players apiece.

For Ishpeming, center David Simula (6-0, 175 senior) and linebacker Bobby Zhulkie (5-10, 195 senior) made the list.

Simula helped an Ishpeming offense that averaged 407 yards a game, while Zhulkie made 55 tackles, came up with three interceptions and recovered a fumble.

“The strength of our defense is our linebackers and Bobby funneled things to the inside,” Olson said.

For the Miners, offensive guard Tyler Thomas (6-1, 280 senior) and defensive tackle Trevor Hanson (5-11, 250 senior) gained laurels.

“He’s a solid 1-on-1 blocker who moves well for his size,” Jacobson said of Thomas. “We’re able to pull him on quick traps.”

Hanson posted 64 tackles for Negaunee.

“He’s such a leverage player,” the Miners’ coach said. “He’s a run-stuffer.”

Kurt Burmeister of Marquette, Owen DeVooght of Gwinn and Cole Potvin of Manistique also gained All-U.P. honors.

Burmeister (6-3, 200 senior) is a wide receiver who has caught 43 passes for 722 yards and nine scores.

“He’s a big-play maker for us,” L’Huillier said. “He’s not a burner, but he has a knack for getting open.

“He’s also a good route runner and a great competitor.”

A fullback, DeVooght (5-11, 190 senior) was perhaps best known for his never-quit intensity on the field, as well as his 838 yards rushing and six touchdowns.

“He would rather run over someone than around him,” Gwinn head coach Darren Sinnaeve said before the UPSSA meeting. “His work ethic is tremendous.”

Manistique’s Potvin (6-1, 155 senior), an end, hauled in 46 passes for 623 yards and eight TDs.

In the Small Schools category, L’Anse picked up four spots on the list of honorees: offensive guard Keith Denomie (6-2, 260 senior); offensive tackle Brandon Scroggs (6-3, 265 senior); running back Jimmy Veker (6-3, 205 senior); and linebacker Jonny Magarragia (5-11, 175 senior).

“With Denomie, Scroggs is one of the anchors on our offensive line,” L’Anse head coach Mark Leaf said. “And Veker is a multiple weapon. He uses his size and hands to his advantage.”

Veker rushed for 715 yards and 14 touchdowns, while Magaraggia came up with 88 tackles – 53 solo – and two sacks. He also recovered three fumbles.

Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is cremsburg@miningjournal.net