JLAS Football

Photos Courtesy of Ursula Owens

Aug 26
@ Central Lake High School
Lightning fires up Cardinals
Sep 2
Sep 9
W 32-27
Sep 16
Sep 23
Sep 30
Oct 7
Oct 14
Oct 21
vs. St. Mary Cathedral Junior Senior High School
High flying Cardinals earn victory over St. Mary
Oct 28
1st Round Play-Off Game ~ Home vs. Beal City
Beal City spoils Cardinals' postseason hopes
L 43-20

Beal City spoils Cardinals' postseason hopes
By Matt Wenzel, Staff Writer Gaylord Herald Times

JOHANNESBURG — Beal City spoiled the Cardinals' first trip to the postseason under coach John Bush Friday by the score of 43-20.

“Hats off to the Aggies. They are a good team and played a really good game,” Bush said. “Our kids played hard.”

Beal City was off and running from the opening drive of the game. On second-and-11, sophomore running back Ty Rollin took a toss sweep pitch that surprised the outside of the J-L defense.

Aided by pulling blockers, Rollin scampered 65 yards to score on the third play from scrimmage.

After a J-L four and out series, Rollin victimized the Cardinal defense again, this time on fourth-and-2 for a 41-yard touchdown run.

After a Cardinal drive stalled just shy of the 50-yard line, an errant punt gave the Aggies good field position.

A 33-yard run by the other strong Aggie runner, senior Stone Beckwith, capped off the drive.

With 2:52 still left in the first quarter, the Cardinals found themselves down a seemingly insurmountable 21-0.

After a personal foul stalled a Cardinals’ drive, J-L received its first positive break of the game when a bobbled punt was put on the ground by the Aggies.

Junior Dillon Burns lunged on the ball giving J-L a short field at the Beal City 22.

A 17-yard pass from quarterback Alex Payne to Brian VanCoillie set up the most unlikely touchdown of the season when center Sean Aisthorpe picked up a loose ball and marched 5 yards into the end zone.

On the point after attempt, holder Joe McGuire was forced to improvise on a hard-to-handle snap.

Rolling to his right, McGuire found Gunnar Owens, who made a circus catch for the two-point conversion.

The Aggies’ offense answered with a 38-yard pass from quarterback Samuel Schafer to tight end Rodd Stevens, setting up a 3-yard touchdown run from Joseph Rau.

The Cardinals would answer on their next drive, going 76 yards on 15 plays to make the score 27-14. Mitch Hardy rushed for 30 of those yards on his own. It was obvious, however, the smaller, but quick defense of the Aggies was keying on the junior rusher. Hardy gained 42 yards on 11 carries overall.

Beal City out rushed the Cardinals 292-127.

With two minutes left in the first half and the Cardinals two scores down, the J-L defense forced a fumble that was recovered by Dylan Helms.

Payne finished off the 45-yard drive by calling his own number with 17 seconds to go in the half. The Aggies took a suddenly uneasy lead into the locker room, 27-20.
Unfortunately for Cardinals fans, the second half would begin worse than the first with a penalty and an errant snap costing J-L momentum and a two-point safety to start the third quarter.

“We were able to make some adjustments in the second quarter, and Beal City had the two turnovers,” Bush said. “At halftime we worked on some other things that I thought we could take advantage of but in the third quarter we came out and punted and that really cost us.”

The Cardinals would never recover the momentum after the third quarter letdown but continued to play hard throughout the entire game.

Payne would finish the game 10-of-18 with 121 yards through the air. VanCoillie was on the receiving end of 45 of those yards.

Beal City ended the J-L season, but the team will live on in the record books.

The 401 points scored is tied for the second most in school history, and the team has two of the top six largest margins of victory this season (64 points against Atlanta and 61 points against Hale).

Blake Huff ends his high school football days in the top five in school history in both season tackles and tackles in a career.

VanCoillie ends his career at J-L with the fourth-most rushing touchdowns (30) and finished with just under 2,000 rushing yards.

With one more year to play, Payne and Hardy already appear on the touchdown list at fifth and 11th, respectively. They will be back for what is expected to be another solid Cardinal team.

J-L loses just six seniors, but they’re all of high quality — Huff, VanCoillie, Owens, Aisthorpe, Brett Kortman and Nick Michael.

“It always hurts to say goodbye to the seniors and hang up the pads for the year,” Bush said. “These seniors were great. I told them at the beginning that they were going to have to be the leaders and they were.

“Every day they worked hard and did what we asked them to do.”

The Aggies will travel to Frankfort to play in Saturday’s District Final.

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Go Cardinals Go!

Gaylord Herald Times

Johannesburg-Lewiston begins what it hopes is five more weeks of football on Friday.

Four more victories would give them the opportunity to play at Ford Field for a Division 8 state title. “The kids are sensing the wave of excitement around here,” said Cardinal coach John Bush. “There are only 32 schools our size that are in the playoffs and only a handful in Northern Michigan, so they’ve really done something and they are looking forward to competing.”

The road to Ford Field will not be an easy route for any team.
Traveling to Johannesburg Friday from the Mount Pleasant area will be the Aggies of Beal City, who bring a high-scoring team and a coach who is used to winning.

“They look a lot like us with a kind of Wing-T offense and run some of the same things we run,” said Bush. “They look a lot like Mancelona.”

Entering the playoffs for the 12th consecutive year, Beal City is led by a dangerous triple threat rushing attack under decorated coach Lou Rau.

Running back Stone Beckwith has 832 yards and 13 touchdowns on 133 carries on the season. His partner in crime is Ty Rollin, who has 871 yards and 14 touchdowns on 118 carries. Dual-threat quarterback Sam Schafer has 252 yards rushing and 981 yards passing and a combined nine touchdowns.

“They are a farming town with some big, strong kids like us,” Bush said. “I know they are not far removed from a state championship run and some of their better kids I’m sure were on that team.”

Beal City won the Division 8 State Championship in 2009 when it defeated Crystal Falls Forest Park. Since beginning their playoff run in 1999, there has been only one season where the Aggies have been ousted in the second round.

The Cardinals have some streaks going themselves. Since dropping the week four contest Mancelona, the team has gone wild on both sides of the football. During that five-week period, the J-L offense has averaged more than 52 points per game while giving up an average of 3.6 points per game.

Offensively, the Cardinals have already made some new entries into the school record books. The leading rusher for J-L is junior Mitch Hardy, who now has two of the top five longest runs in school history (75 yards and 80 yards). Hardy comes into the postseason with 1,199 yards and is averaging 12.1 yards per carry.

Brian VanCoillie is closing in on a top-five mark for career rushing yards with 1,952 and is already in fourth place in school history in career rushing touchdowns with 29.

Just behind him in fifth place all time is quarterback Alex Payne with 23. J-L needs 20 points to make it the second-highest scoring team in school history.

The J-L defense has been a menacing group during the second half of the season, too.
The defensive line is led by Sean Aisthorpe and Blake Huff, with Drake Skowronski and Brett Kortman emerging as the standout linebackers.

All statistics aside, the game is about who wins, and Bush is confident in his team’s character. “This is what you play the game for,” said Bush. “We had a pretty spirited practice tonight, and they love to compete. I can’t even have them throwing a Frisbee in (physical education) class without them making some sort of game or competition out of it.”

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High flying Cardinals earn victory over St. Mary
By Matt Wenzel, Staff Writer - Gaylord Herald Times

JOHANNESBURG — The Johannesburg-Lewiston football squad enters the Division 8 playoffs on a five-game winning streak after defeating St. Mary Snowbirds, 62-12.

“St. Mary came out and played hard,” J-L coach John Bush said. “But once we got rolling, things went well.”

The night began with a buzz of a possible upset when St. Mary took the ball down the field on their opening drive and scored six quick points.

Senior Patrick Switalski ended the 65-yard drive, breaking free from the hard-hitting Cardinal defenders, scampering 47 yards to the end zone.

“We started out good and we had a good game plan,” said first-year Snowbirds coach Denny YoungeDyke. “When Johannesburg-Lewiston changed their defense around, we just weren’t an experienced enough of a team to adjust.”

The special teams were first to get on the board for J-L with a blocked punt on St. Mary’s second possession. As the ball bounced around inside the Snowbird 20-yard line, Switalski made a heady play and kicked the ball through the back of the end zone.

The quick thinking traded a safety and two points for a first and 10 in the red zone for J-L.

After the free kick was returned to the St. Mary 45-yard line, J-L quarterback Alex Payne called his own number down the left sideline for J-L’s first touchdown.

On the Snowbirds’ next possession the offense drove into Cardinal territory on consistent forward gains from Switalski and Matt Spyhalski.

On third down at the J-L 40-yard line, a Gabe Nowicki pass was picked off by senior Sean Aisthorpe, one of the anchors on the Cardinal defensive line.

In a rare touch for the lineman, Aisthorpe returned the ball to the St. Mary 25-yard line. The ball was eventually punched in from 11 yards out by Payne.

The J-L offense began to click into a rhythm, but the Snowbirds were still in legitimate comeback reach at half time, thanks to a Nowicki score from 2 yards out. The score was 29-12 at the end of the second stanza.

The third quarter went the way of the Cardinals, as J-L collected four touchdowns including an 80-yard scamper by Mitch Hardy.

Hardy had another huge game, gaining 202 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. Through just nine games, the fullback had 1,199 yards and 15 scores.

Brian VanCoillie added 107 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. He has more than 800 yards and 14 touchdowns on the season.

The other superb rusher in J-L’s trio is Payne, who had 104 yards and two touchdowns. Payne had more than 600 yards this season and a whopping 17 touchdowns.

Gunnar Owens also caught a 69-yard pass from Payne in the first half.

In his last regular season game J-L senior defensive end Blake Huff was a force, compiling 14 total tackles and a blocked punt. Drake Skowronski added 14 total tackles for the Cardinals, while Brett Kortman picked off a pair of passes.

Switalski had 82 yards rushing to pace the Snowbirds. Senior Jacob Blanzy was the leading tackler on defense.

The end of the season came with little fanfare for the Snowbirds, but YoungeDyke had a special message for his seniors.

“All year long they were a pleasure to work with,” he said. “I told them that they may not end up playing football for a living, but they would be outstanding men, outstanding husbands and outstanding members of the community. This is just a game, and we didn’t win a game.”

The Cardinals’ season is not over. They will host a tough Beal City team on Friday in the first round of the playoffs.

Even before they knew when or where they would play, Bush said the team was excited to extend their season.

“They’re fired up,” said Bush. “I have seniors on this team that were on the varsity two years ago (the last time the Cardinals made the playoffs). It gives them the experience of seeing it.”


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WEEK 9 ~ St. Mary Snowbirds (1-7) at J-L Cardinals (7-1)

TIME: 7 p.m. Friday

RADIO: Eagle 101.5 (Live)

LAST YEAR: J-L 59, St. Mary 14

LAST WEEK: J-L 64, Atlanta 0; Frankfort 41, St. Mary 22

ENROLLMENT: J-L: 219; St. Mary (including Boyne Falls) 137

ALL-TIME SERIES: St. Mary leads 27-15

The Cardinals are starting to compile some numbers that place them
among the best offensive teams in school history. And that's saying a lot,
given the Cardinals' tradition of strong rushing attacks. The trio of quarterback
Alex Payne, tailback Brian VanCoillie and fullback Mitch Hardy could be one of
J-L's best ever. The three have combined for 2,203 yards and 29 touchdowns on
the ground in just eight games. The tough thing about stopping the Cardinals is that
all of them have almost identical amount of rushes, making it hard for defenses
to key in on just one.

The Snowbirds showed a lot of fight in last week's 41-22 loss to a very
good Frankfort team. St. Mary is led by a strong senior class who will be
playing its last game. Stalwarts included in that group are Gabe Nowicki,
Patrick Switalski, Jacob Blanzy, Mike Stutesman and Josh Puroll.


After winning 6 on the road, Cards entertain Joburg crowd
By Matt Wenzel, Staff Writer ~ Gaylord Herald Times

JOHANNESBURG — The weather was not the only thing that blew through Cardinal Stadium Friday as the Johannesburg-Lewiston team ran over the Atlanta Huskies in J-L’s second home game of the season, 64-0.

“We were clicking on all cylinders,” said Cardinal coach John Bush.

J-L dominated both sides of the ball with a power running attack that has stomped over opponents all season and a defensive attack that yielded just 153 yards Friday.

“We had a really good week of practice, and I expected them to do well,” Bush said. “I figured the offense would move the ball, but I was surprised with how well our defense stopped them. They (Atlanta) are a pretty good offensive team.”

It was not a position the Huskies were accustomed to. Entering the game against J-L, Atlanta averaged more than 32 points per game and had not been held below 14 points.

In week seven, the Huskies came one score away from upsetting Hillman, the No. 13-ranked team in Division 8.

In the first two quarters of play against J-L, the stingy Cardinal defense allowed the Huskies on J-L’s half of the 50-yard line just twice.

Leading the defense on the night was Drake Skrowronski with 12 tackles. Dylan Helms had 10 tackles and a sack. Blake Huff and Brad Kussrow added a sack each. Gunnar Owens came through with 10 tackles.

The Cardinal defense also made it onto the scoreboard in the second quarter when defensive back Jacob Newell intercepted a pass and zipped 40 yards to the end zone.

As impressive as the defensive effort was, 64 points do not end up on a scoreboard with sacks and tackles for losses alone as the J-L offense came close to a couple of school records on the evening.

“The kids were on a mission tonight,” Bush said. “They could’ve done anything we wanted them to do out there.”

The 530 yards of total offense is the third highest in school history, and the 64 points is the fourth largest margin of victory, eclipsing a 62-point win against Central Lake in 1974.

The final score of the game, a 32-yard field goal by Nick Michael, tied the second longest in school history with Willis Gelow back in 1978.

The Cardinals’ 478 yards on the ground came by committee. Mitch Hardy led with 152 yards on seven carries, including touchdown runs of 51 and 75 yards. The 75-yard run tied for the fourth longest in school history.

Brian VanCoillie rushed for 92 yards and two touchdowns, and quarterback Alex Payne had 64 yards on six carries for two more J-L scores. Payne was 2-of-4 with 52 yards through the air.

Jacob Newell and Dillion Kibby each added a rushing touchdown.

The Cardinals (7-1) welcome rival St. Mary into town Friday in a not-to-be-overlooked match up before the playoffs begin.

Latest projections have a strong possibility for J-L to host a first round playoff game.

It would be welcome news for a team who is going into only its third home contest of the year.

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WEEK 8 ~ Atlanta Huskies (3-4) at J-L Cardinals (6-1)

TIME: 7 p.m. Friday

RADIO: Eagle 101.5 (Monday 9:30 p.m. tape delay)

LAST YEAR: J-L 44, Atlanta 14

LAST WEEK: Hillman 44, Atlanta 36; J-L 35, Forest Area 0

ENROLLMENT: J-L: 219; Atlanta (Including Fairview) 255

ALL-TIME SERIES: J-L leads 26-13-1

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J-L clinches playoff birth with another dominating Ski Valley victory
Gaylord Herald Times

FIFE LAKE — Johannesburg-Lewiston punched its ticket to the Division 8 gridiron playoffs on Friday by knocking off Forest Area 35-0.

The Cardinals celebrated once again on a visiting field with all six of their victories this season coming on the road.

The J-L scoring began in unusual fashion for J-L with a 44 yard pass from quarterback Alex Payne to senior Nick Michael with 7:24 left in the first quarter.

Near the end of the first quarter Payne took it from five yards out to make the score 14-0.

The Cardinals’ ground game wore down the Forest Area defense in the second quarter, adding a 20-yard touchdown run from Brian Van Coillie and a 30-yard touchdown run from Payne. The junior quarterback would crack the score sheet one final time in the fourth quarter, forcing his way into the end zone from one yard out.

Payne ended the game the leading rusher with 111 yards on 14 carries and another 76 yards through the air on four completions. He accounted for four of the five J-L touchdowns with three on the ground to go along with the one through the air.

It was yards by committee for the Cardinals, Van Coillie rushed for 71 yards on 10 carries, Mitch Hardy rushed for 67 yards on 14 carries and  Dillion Kibby ran for 82 yards on nine carries. Nick Michael was 5-for-5 on extra points.

It was more points than the J-L defense needed.
The Warriors struggled to get anything going against the Cardinals, managing 120 yards of total offense for the entire game. Linebackers Blake Huff and Drake Skowronski combined for 29 tackles. Forest Area was not the first team to be victimized the by the Red and White defense. In their last three games, Johannesburg-Lewiston has given up six points total. For that three game stretch, opponents have averaged 104 yards of total offense against J-L.

The Red and White (6-1, 5-1 in Ski Valley) return home for only the second time this year to face off against rival Atlanta. The Huskies (3-4) lost 46-38 to Hillman last week.

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TIME: 7 p.m. Friday

RADIO: Eagle 101.5 (Monday 8 p.m. tape delay)

LAST YEAR: Forest Area 22, J-L 0

LAST WEEK: Forest Area 48, Pellston 28; J-L 41, Onaway 6

ENROLLMENT: J-L: 219; Forest Area: 239

ALL-TIME SERIES: J-L leads 5-2

OUTLOOK: In a strange scheduling quirk, this will be the Cardinals’ sixth road game out of seven this season. What the home fans have missed are a bunch of J-L victories. The Cardinals are 5-1 and could clinch the playoffs this week if they can make it six straight road victories.

J-L will look to avenge a tough 2010 loss to the Warriors that kept the Cardinals out of the playoffs. Forest Area has been an up-and-down team this season. The Warriors beat a good Inland Lakes team in week one, then fell to Onaway two weeks ago and were nearly beaten by St. Mary. J-L is hoping that with the two final regular season games at home and a potential first-round home playoff game that this will be the team’s final road trip for awhile.

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Cardinals a win away from playoffs
Gaylord Herald Times

ONAWAY — Johannesburg-Lewiston proved that it is still among the elite teams of the Ski Valley Conference Friday with a powerful 41-6 victory at Onaway.

J-L improved to 5-1 on the season and continues to roll toward the playoffs, needing one victory to clinch a spot, which could happen this Friday at Forest Area (3-3).
Commenting on the Onaway game, J-L coach John Bush said, “We executed on our first drive, stopped them on defense and things went well from then on.”

It took J-L just under four minutes to score the opening touchdown, a 4-yard scamper by quarterback Alex Payne. After a defensive stop, the rushing game went back to work, capped off by a Brian VanCoillie run from 2 yards out. VanCoillie was J-L’s second-leading rusher on the day with 54 yards and the touchdown.

The formula for Bush and J-L the last few games, however, has been a strong dose of junior fullback Mitch Hardy.

The Onaway defense never had an answer for Hardy, who rushed for 164 yards on 10 carries with two touchdowns. In the past two games, Hardy has amassed half a season’s worth of statistics with 391 yards on just 20 carries and seven touchdowns.

“Mitch is running well this season,” Bush said. “He gets out into space and gets a step on somebody, and he will get away. He’s fast.”

Hardy added the first of his two touchdowns to the Cardinals’ first quarter lead on a 31-yard run making the score 19-0 to begin the second quarter.

That was all the lead the defense needed, holding the Onaway offense to 131 total yards for the game. “It was basically a shutout,” said Bush. “They had a couple of good skill players but with Gary’s (assistant coach Hoffman) offensive scheme and the defense playing like it was, we shut them down.”

Wyatt Pelton and Blake Huff led the Cardinal defense with 17 and 16 tackles, respectively. Sean Aisthorpe added two tackles for loss. Onaway’s points came on a kickoff returned for a touchdown with 2:34 to go in the game. The win marked J-L’s fifth on the road this year. The road warriors will look to gain another one Friday at Forest Area.

“They have been up and down and have some pretty fast players at skill positions,” Bush said of Forest Area. “They run a similar offense to Onaway, and we will incorporate that into the game plan. Hopefully, we carry over the success we had against Onaway.”

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J-L CARDINALS (4-1) vs. at ONAWAY (2-3)

Time: 7:00 p.m. Friday, September 30th

Radio: Eagle 101.5 (Monday 8:00 p.m. tape delay)

Last Year: J-L 34, Onaway 0

Last week: Onaway 15, Forest Area 14; J-L 67, Hale 7

Enrollment: J-L 219 ~ Onaway 198

All-time series:
J-L leads 10-6

Talk about your bounce back week. After losing to Mancelona 40-0 the week before, J-L took it out on Hale last week, winning 67-7. The Cardinals have been a rushing juggernaut, as backs Mitch Hardy and Brian VanCoillie have combined for more than 1,000 yards in just five games. Those two, along with quarterback Alex Payne, have a combined 24 rushing touchdowns.

It was also a big week for Onaway, who tripped up Forest Area 15-14. The Cardinals are one of four teams in a four-way tie for third place in the Ski Valley Conference. After starting the season 0-3, Onaway has won in consecutive weeks.

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Cardinals run wild in bounce back victory
Gaylord Herald Times

HALE — An angry Johannesburg-Lewiston football team took it out on Hale Friday night, rushing for 433 yards and scoring 10 touchdowns in a 67-7 victory.

J-L (4-1) didn’t attempt a pass and didn’t need to. The 10 touchdowns were scored by just three players — the backfield trio of Mitch Hardy, Brian VanCoillie and Alex Payne.

Hardy was the star. He carried the ball only 10 times but accounted for 227 yards and five touchdowns. Through five games this season, the junior has rushed for more than 600 yards and is averaging more than 11 yards per carry.

Payne added 95 yards and three touchdowns, while VanCoillie had 50 yards and two touchdowns. Dillion Kibby added 58 yards on the ground in the win.

The Cardinals were coming off a 40-0 loss to Mancelona the week before.

“Not to take anything away from Mancelona, because they are a great team, but we just wanted to get back to playing better football,” said J-L coach John Bush. “We didn’t play very well (against Mancelona). We did a lot better than last week.”

J-L jumped ahead early and often, taking a 54-0 lead at halftime. A kickoff return with one minute to go gave the Eagles their only score of the game.

The Cardinals’ rushing attack wouldn’t have happened without the outstanding play of the J-L offensive line. Stalwarts in that group include tight ends Nick Michael and Gunnar Owens, tackles Logan Miller and Garrett Koronka, guards Blake Huff and Dakota Finnerty and center Sean Aisthorpe. Bush also mentioned the excellent blocking of his running backs.

“Everybody did their job, and it allowed us to run wild,” Bush said.

The Cardinal defense was equally ferocious, allowing only 52 total yards. Huff led the way with 11 tackles, two sacks and two fumble recoveries. Jacob Newell had eight tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery. Wyatt Pelton and Drake Skowronski each had nine tackles for J-L. Brad Kussrow added seven tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery.

J-L looks to take the next step toward becoming playoff eligible Friday when it hosts Onaway
(2-3). It will mark the Cardinals fifth road game in six contests this season. If J-L wins the rest of its games, the Cardinals could host a round one playoff game, something that is serving as motivation. “We haven’t been at home a lot, so that would be nice,” Bush said.

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J-L Cardinals (3-1) vs. Hale Eagles (2-2)

Time: 7:00 p.m. Friday, September 23rd

Radio: Eagle 101.5 (Monday 8:00 p.m. tape delay)

Last week: Atlanta 60, Hale 27; Mancelona 40, J-L 0

Enrollment: J-L 219 ~ Hale 183

All-time series:
J-L leads 8-2

Hale started the season 2-0 after wins against Pellston and Saginaw Buena Vista,
but the Eagles dropped North Star League contests to Arenac Eastern and Atlanta
the past two weeks. Scoring isn't a problem for Hale - it averages more than 25
points per game - but the Eagles gave up 98 points the past two weeks.
J-L will likely come out a fired-up team following a tough 40-0 loss to mighty
Mancelona last week. The Cardinals will be out to prove they are indeed a solid
football team and will be looking for that fourth win that will put them closer
to a playoff spot. After three straight games with impressive stats, the Cardinals
will look to get the running game rolling again.

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Iron willed win: Mancelona seizes control of Ski Valley with 40-0
~ Gaylord Herald Times

JOHANNESBURG — A powerful offensive and defensive attack spoiled Johannesburg-Lewiston’s Homecoming Friday night when mighty Mancelona blanked the Cardinals 40-0.

“They are a great team,” said J-L coach John Bush. “We needed to be working on all cylinders just to compete and we weren’t.”

The game was billed as a potential battle for the Ski Valley Conference title. Both teams came in with undefeated records and state rankings and were the only two undefeated teams in the league. After this game, the only one left standing without a loss was the iron-willed Ironmen.

A Homecoming atmosphere, three straight road games to start the season, the effort expended in a come-from-behind win against Inland Lakes the week before and a couple of bumps and bruises combined to create the perfect storm for a J-L letdown.

It also did not help that the Cardinals were up against one of the better Division 7 teams in the state.

Mancelona struck early and often Friday, beginning with a 76-yard touchdown run by Wyatt Derrer on the first play from scrimmage.

After a Cardinal punt, another Derrer TD would cap off a 10-play drive, and before J-L knew what hit them, they were down 16-0 to the reigning Ski Valley champions.

Derrer and Ironmen counterpart Austin Spires combined for more than 300 yards on the ground, both showing speed in the open field.

Just before halftime, the Cardinals sustained their first long drive of the game, fueled by 25 yards on the ground from quarterback Alex Payne.

A 13-yard pass from Payne to Brian Van Coillie set the Cardinals up on the Ironmen 13-yard line with less than 10 seconds to go in the half.

Derrer again stung the home team with an interception of a Payne pass in the end zone on the final play of the half.

Payne was a bright spot for J-L, rushing for 47 yards on 11 carries and collecting 61 more through the air.

“Alex (Payne) played with heart tonight,” Bush said.

On the defensive side of the ball, Jacob Newell and Blake Huff each had 10 tackles.

For Mancelona, Derrer scored 26 points on just nine carries. He scored three touchdowns and ran in four two-point conversions to go with his 150 yards on the ground. Spires scored just one touchdown and conversion but racked up 160 rushing yards.

Despite a rough game, Bush took a positive approach at a bigger picture.

“Last year, we were 1-3 at this time,” Bush said. “I would much rather be 3-1.”

The Cardinals look to get back to winning ways when they travel to Hale (2-2, 0-2 North Star) Friday. While the Ski Valley title may now be out of reach, a playoff spot certainly isn’t. A win Friday night would get the Cardinals one step closer toward their familiar location in the postseason.

“We are going to get back to work, go down there and perform the way we should,” Bush said. “We are going to get back to Cardinal football.”

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Week 4 ~ Mancelona at J-L
Gaylord Herald Times

What better way for the Cardinals to celebrate Homecoming then a game that will end with the winner in control of the Ski Valley Conference.

Both teams come into Friday’s contest undefeated, in what should be a 1960s Lambeau Field-style, hard-hitting game featuring two dominant running attacks.

The Cardinals will rely on their leading rushers, senior Brian VanCoillie and junior Mitch Hardy, to grind the ball on the ground behind a big line featuring seniors Sean Aisthorpe and Blake Huff.

In three games this season, VanCoillie has rushed for 420 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 10 yards per carry. Hardy has four touchdowns and averages nearly 10 yards per carry as well.

Junior quarterback Alex Payne is J-L’s third leading rusher with five touchdowns on the ground and three more in the air.

Like many power running battles, J-L hopes to be the team that controls the clock.

“We have to slow them down and hopefully keep their offense off the field,” said J-L coach John Bush.

Mancelona boasts a potent one-two punch with Austin Spires and Wyatt Derrer.

Spires racked up seven touchdowns on 259 yards in Mancelona’s first two games against Elk Rapids and Onaway.

Derrer managed five scores and an astonishing 19-yard per carry average, tallying 398 yards during the same two games.

“We’ve been working a lot on preparing for them throughout the first couple weeks of this season,” Bush said. “They are a good team. I thought that they lost a lot to graduation, but they have definitely reloaded.”

The yards have come easily for Mancelona, but J-L will be the first difficult test for the Ironmen, and it comes in an emotionally charged Cardinal playing field during Homecoming.

“I think home field advantage is a big factor in every game,” said Bush. “It will be nice to get home and everyone likes playing in front of their friends and family.”

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Cards engineer improbable comeback to remain unbeaten
Gaylord Herald Times

INDIAN RIVER — The Johannesburg-Lewiston football team was tired, losing and perhaps looking ahead to next week’s mammoth showdown with Mancelona.

The Cardinals hadn’t played at home yet this season and Friday’s battle at Inland Lakes marked their third-straight game on the road.

Down 27-18 late in the fourth quarter, something happened that has coach John Bush fired up. The seniors took over the game and pulled off a Michigan-Notre Dame type of improbable comeback, scoring two touchdowns in the final four minutes to win 32-27.

“I don’t know if this group has ever been in a situation like that,” Bush said. “I think we were confident that we could do it and our seniors really stepped it up. In high school football, you only go as far as your seniors take you.”

It wasn’t the seniors who scored the final two touchdowns, but it was the 12th-graders who did the heavy lifting. The offensive line features a pair of great ones in guard Blake Huff and center Sean Aisthorpe, while back Brian VanCoillie rushed for 150 yards.

Most important of all was the play of senior Nick Michael. Following a 30-yard touchdown run by junior fullback Mitch Hardy, Michael executed a perfect onside kick, booting the ball and recovering it in one fell swoop.

That set up J-L’s dramatic final drive, one which junior quarterback Alex Payne capped on a 4-yard scoring run with 25 seconds left.

“We really had to dig down and get some momentum going to come back,” Bush said.

Those late plays overshadowed an uneven performance for Cardinals, who moved to 3-0 on the season.

J-L started the game like it finished it, ripping off two quick scoring drives. A 74-yard run by VanCoillie set up a pretty 9-yard pass from Payne to Michael in the first quarter, and on the next drive, Hardy ripped off an 83-yard scamper up the middle.

Up 12-0, it looked as if the Cardinals were going to cruise, but the second quarter belonged to the Bulldogs’ Shane Bacon. Bacon scored three times in the second, twice on long runs and once on a kickoff return.

Michael caught another touchdown pass from Payne in between, but Inland Lakes managed to take a 21-18 lead into the locker room.

Neither team scored in the third quarter, but Bacon again gave Inland Lakes (1-2) a cushion in the fourth, when he raced in from 66 yards out.

“Don’t take anything away from Inland Lakes. They played hard, but we made a bunch of mistakes,” Bush said. “We really had a lull, but it was great to see us come out of it.”

Behind a decorated offensive line, VanCoillie and Hardy continued to put up some impressive numbers. Hardy accounted for 203 rushing yards. Both he and VanCoillie are averaging around 10 yards a carry through the first three games this season.

Junior Drake Skowronski played a strong game at linebacker for the Cardinals, getting his hand in on 18 tackles. Huff totaled 11 tackles for J-L, while Hardy had nine tackles, including a sack and a fumble recovery.

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TIME: 7 p.m. Friday

RADIO: Eagle 101. 5 (Monday 8 p.m. tape delay)

LAST YEAR: Inland Lakes 34, J-L 26

ENROLLMENT: Inland Lakes (including Wolverine): 389; J-L: 219

ALL-TIME SERIES: J-L leads 12-10

SCOUTING J-L: The Cardinals are back racking up huge numbers on the ground as they have averaged almost 350 yards per game in a pair of big early season victories. That’s a combination of the excellent play of the backfield as well as the dominance of the offensive line. Quarterback Alex Payne and running backs Brian VanCoillie and Mitch Hardy have all racked up big numbers through the first two weeks. The line is anchored by a pair of seniors — center Sean Aisthorpe and guard Blake Huff. Senior Nick Michael is the big-play receiver as he has averaged more than 40 yards per reception. Defensively, the Cardinals have been excellent as well, with Huff having recorded six tackles for loss through the first two games. J-L lost to the Bulldogs last season and will look to avenge its second loss from last year as the Cards already beat Central Lake in week one.

SCOUTING INLAND LAKES: The Bulldogs got on the winning board last week with a hard-fought victory against St. Mary. Inland Lakes runs a power football game under coach Stan Schramm and has a nice combination of a big offensive line and some strong runners. Cody Bonilla is the big-play back, with Jordyn Smeltzer and Shane Bacon also coming up with some excellent runs out of Inland Lakes’ T-formation backfield. Quarterback Riley Southwell is an athletic player who has made good decisions early this season. His favorite target is end Austin Jensen. This is a big game for the Bulldogs if they are to be included in the Ski Valley title chase.

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J-L machine running up yards, scores
Gaylord Herald Times

PELLSTON — The Johannesburg -Lewiston football program has made its mark on the Northern Michigan football landscape by having a vaunted rushing attack.

This year’s Cardinals team could prove to have one of the best running games in recent memory.

J-L churned out another 351 yards on the ground Friday and easily improved to 2-0 with a 46-6 victory at Pellston.

Senior Brian VanCoillie had 150 yards and two touchdowns for the Cardinals , who have rushed for almost 700 yards in two games this season, both breezy victories.

Junior quarterback Alex Payne also was solid, gaining 79 yards on the ground, while scoring four touchdowns. Junior Mitch Hardy added 80 yards and a touchdown, while junior Dillion Kibby chipped in 43 yards.

No good running team is without a great offensive line and that unit received a boost when senior center and captain Sean Aisthorpe returned to the lineup following an early season injury. His impact was felt on a line that has blasted holes through the early season.

Again, Payne wasn’t asked to throw much but was solid when he was, completing 2-of-3 passes for 61 yards. Senior Nick Michael again made a big play, rumbling 51 yards on a catch.

Defensively, the Cardinals again held their opponent to under 200 yards of total offense. Senior Blake Huff again led the way on that side of the ball, recording 12 total tackles, including four for loss. Senior Brett Kortman returned from injury to record 13 tackles and an interception, while juniors Drake Skowronski and Dylan Helms added 12 and 10 tackles, respectively. Michael added eight tackles and an interception for what has become a tough Cardinal defense.

It was all J-L from the start as the Cardinals posted 33 points on the scoreboard in the first half and made it 40-0 before Pellston’s Matt Cornell scored on a 53-yard run to provide the Hornets’ only score.

It could get a notch more difficult next week for J-L, which will play its third-straight road game to start the season. The Cardinals will be at Inland Lakes (1-1) Friday night.


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TIME: Friday, 7 p.m.

RADIO: Eagle 101.5 (live)

LAST YEAR: J-L 36, Pellston 0

LAST WEEK: J-L 34, Central Lake 6; Hale 21, Pellston 6

ENROLLMENT: Pellston (including Alanson and Mackinaw City): 347; J-L: 219.

ALL-TIME SERIES: J-L leads 19-1

SCOUTING PELLSTON: Fourth-year coach Dave Brines continues the process of instilling a winning attitude to a school who hasn’t had a winning season since 1995. The Hornets do have a pumped up roster with 22 on the varsity and 17 on the junior varsity. The Hornets fell 21-6 to Hale in their season opener Saturday.

A dozen senior starters return, led by running back Brian Jurek, linebacker Mike Schaefer and fullback/defensive end Josh VanTilburg. Jurek rushed for 1,110 yards and was an All-Ski Valley performer last season. Schaefer was the team’s leading tackler. The entire Hornets offensive line also is back this season.

SCOUTING J-L: The Cardinals got off to a great start to the 2011 season with a large victory against a traditionally strong Central Lake squad. They did so without two top seniors — lineman Sean Aisthorpe and defensive back Brett Kortman. It didn’t matter against Central Lake, and the Cardinals did well in almost every aspect of the game. Offensively, Brian VanCoillie was the star, rushing for 120 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Alex Payne was also strong in the running and passing game, while fullback Mitch Hardy rushed for more than 6 yards per carry, and Nick Michael caught a pair of long passes.

On the defensive side of the ball, Blake Huff asserted himself in a big way after missing more than half of last season with an injury. Huff had 12 total tackles, including a sack. Drake Skowronski had 11 total tackles and Jacob Newell and Wyatt Pelton each had nine.

The Cardinals will look to continue this dominance against a Pellston team they’ve traditionally had no problem with.

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Lightning fires up Cardinals

Johannesburg-Lewiston 34, Central Lake 6

CENTRAL LAKE — The faithful Johannesburg-Lewiston fans who made the trek to Central Lake got their money’s worth in a 34-6 Cardinal victory Friday night.
“Our offense and defensive lines really cleared the way for us tonight,” John Bush, Johannesburg-Lewiston head coach said. “We played hard. Our offense was not polished early in the game, but we did what we had to do to get the win.”

The game began in a closely contested first quarter.

On the game’s second possession, J-L held onto the football for a 34-yard drive that fizzled out on the Central Lake 25.

Central Lake swiftly brought the ball to midfield thanks to a 21-yard run by senior Tanner Davis.

The soggy weather would get the better of the Trojans two plays later when a high snap got away from quarterback Zach Patton that was quickly smothered on by the J-L defensive line.

Beginning the drive on their opponent’s side of the 50-yard line proved to be more than enough help for the Cardinals. Their four-play drive was capped off by a 15-yard touchdown run by senior Brian VanCoillie.

On their next drive, the Central Lake offense was victim to fumbling again, stalling out at their own 47-yard line. After a short punt, the Cardinals took over with good field position at their own 40.

J-L kept its drive alive when VanCoillie rattled off a 7-yard run on a fourth-and-1 play.

The low churning clouds that had been threatening to dump rain onto Intermediate Lake let loose enough rumbles of thunder and flashes of lightning to put the game on hold 1:30 into the second quarter.

The field emptied for 45 minutes as the storm passed.

When play resumed, the Trojans saw a healthy dose of VanCoillie, who ended the drive when he ran through a couple of tackles on a 7-yard touchdown run.

Bush used the delay to his advantage.

“It gave us the opportunity to take a look at some different blocking schemes and make some other adjustments on the line.”

It worked. The Cardinals looked as if they were running down hill for the rest of the first half.

After a fumble forced by senior defensive lineman Blake Huff, it took J-L five plays for VanCoillie to receive his third touchdown of the first half.

VanCoillie would finish the game with 120 yards on 17 carries and three touchdowns.

In addition to Huff, Bush also said Drake Skowronski, Dylan Helms and Brad Kussrow played well on the offensive and defensive lines.

Another long snap miscue set up another Central Lake punt and, the Cardinals needed just 1:46 to score their fourth touchdown with a 30-yard scamper by Mitch Hardy. Hardy finished the game as the second-leading rusher with 88 yards. As a team, the J-L offense racked up 340 yards on the ground.

Quarterback Alex Payne’s 60-yard touchdown pass to Nick Michael capped J-L’s scoring.

“We had a pretty good inside/outside running attack tonight,” said Bush. “Blake (Huff) and Brian (VanCoillie) played well and that’s what we need. For the seniors, it’s going to be on their shoulders.”

Central Lake eventually met the end zone with 8:48 left to go in the game on a 17-yard run by Kyle Hiltunen.

Davis was the leading rusher for the Trojans, gaining 106 yards on 17 carries.

Payne completed 3-of-6 passes for 86 yards.

Defensively, the Cardinals racked up some big numbers. Huff led the way with 12 total tackles and two fumble recoveries.

Skowronski had 11 tackles, while Wyatt Pelton and Jacob Newell each added nine. Kussrow generated a pair of sacks, while Dakota Finnerty came up with a fumble recovery.

J-L- will travel to Pellston Friday to take on the Hornets, who lost 21-6 to Hale in Saturday’s opener.


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TIME: Friday, August 26th ~ 7 p.m.

RADIO: Eagle 101.5 (9:30 p.m. tape delay)

LAST YEAR’S GAME: Central Lake 13, J-L 6

LAST YEAR’S RECORDS: Central Lake: 7-3; J-L: 4-4

ENROLLMENT: Central Lake: 140; J-L: 219

ALL-TIME SERIES: J-L leads 29-14

SCOUTING CENTRAL LAKE: Coach Ryan Heeke had a solid first year with the Trojans in 2010, going 7-2 in the regular season and extending Central Lake’s consecutive postseason streak to six straight years.

Reaching a seventh straight year could be a challenge for Heeke and the Trojans, as Central Lake loses most of its production from both sides of the field.

Zach Patton, the team’s top receiver last year, is a likely candidate to take over the quarterback position, but he is being pushed by junior Kyle Hiltunen. Tanner Davis is the top returning back, while linemen Caleb Windish and Dylan Buffman are returner's.

The Trojans ranked No. 1 in the Ski Valley in defense last year, giving up just 13 points per game. Davis and Trevor Papineau are top returner's.

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Johannesburg-Lewiston Cardinals:
Strong senior class looks to lead Cardinals back to playoffs

~ Gaylord Herald Times

JOHANNESBURG — The Johannesburg-Lewiston Cardinals are expecting a possible playoff run in a wide open Ski Valley Conference.

The expectations are nothing new for second-year head coach John Bush.

Attempting to improve on last season’s 4-4 record, Bush has already seen positive things in his players after last Thursday’s scrimmage.

“Nobody got hurt and we learned a lot about what works and other things that we need to work on,” Bush said.

Pointing to a small group of experienced seniors, Bush said, “You go where your seniors go. We have a good group.”

The leadership is beginning to show for Bush. When asked if the team has implemented changes to climb to the next level of play, Bush responded by focusing on the work in practice.

“This year’s team might be able to take advantage of different things and different skill sets,” he said. “I was impressed with the effort. Some of the techniques that we have been working on in practice started to show up in the scrimmage.”

His six seniors are still key for Bush.

Brian VanCoillie returns at running back, looking to continue as leading touchdown-getter after scoring eight last year. Gunnar Owens returns as leading receiver.

Defensively, the Red and White return seniors Brett Kortman, who led the team in tackles at his strong safety position, as well as Nick Michael at defensive back and Sean Aisthorpe on the line. Aisthorpe is hobbled by a preseason injury but looks to return to game speed by the Cardinal’s first contest Friday against Central Lake. Senior defensive end/guard Blake Huff had a good scrimmage, according to Bush, who said, “He was dominant on both sides of the ball.”

Juniors to watch are returning quarterback Alex Payne, running back Dillion Kibby and fullback Mitch Hardy. Other juniors include backs Justin Newell and Jake Newell, end Joe McGuire and linemen Drake Skowronski, Dylan Helms, Garrett Koronka, Dillon Burns, Caleb Gambino, Wyatt Pelton, Logan Miller, Mike Scarcia and Dakota Finnerty, who Bush credited with excellent play in the scrimmage. Linebacker Brad Kussrow is the team’s lone sophomore.

With the season ready to kick off, Bush has set his goals.

“I always think that we are going to do well,” he said. “Our goals are to win games and move towards a league championship and after that playoffs and towards a state title. It is cliché to say that you need to take it one week at a time, but that’s exactly what we need to do.”









































































































































































Coach: John Bush
Assistant Coaches:
Gary Hoffman
Joe Bush
Joe Smokevitch
Rick May


 Updated 12/1/11


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