NEGAUNEE - Paul Jacobson went through it in 2002 when the Negaunee High School football team won its first and only state title.
His team played with intensity, confidence and a lot of emotion that playoff season.
Saturday, the Miners' coach and his squad will face a similar opponent in a MHSAA Division 6 regional playoff game that's experiencing the same type of natural high.
Negaunee junior running back Tyler LaJoie makes a cut in the snow against Calumet on Nov. 2 in a MHSAA Division 6 regional semifinal victory at home. The Miners host Shelby at 1 p.m. on Saturday for the regional championship. (Journal photo by Zach?Jay)
The Shelby Tigers, who NHS (10-1) will host at 1 p.m., not only have a four-game winning streak, but last week captured the first district title in the school's history with a 26-0 win over Maple City Glen Lake.
Jacobson knows Shelby (9-2) will come to town riding a huge wave of momentum.
"It's hard (to counteract that), but you prepare for them just like any other opponent," the coach said. "You look at game film and come up with a game plan.
"You try to get into a mindset that they're one of eight (Division 6) teams in the state trying to win a championship like we are and play accordingly."
The Tigers average 29.1 points for and just 13.1 against this season. Their two losses were to Montague (22-15 in overtime) and Muskegon Oakridge (20-9).
Against Maple City Glen Lake, the Tigers got three touchdown passes from quarterback Spencer Peters - two to Buddy Lee - and 110 yards rushing in 14 attempts by tailback Nathan Lentz.
"They have decent size up front and an athletic running back," Jacobson said. "They're along the same lines as Iron Mountain in that they run a T-formation and will pass only 9-12 times a game.
"They're good at what they run and go with play-action a lot."
Defensively, Shelby boasts Forrest Courtright and Kyle McGrew. The former made 12 tackles and picked off a pass last week. The latter came up with nine tackles.
"(Shelby's) a solid 5-2 defense," Jacobson said. "Their defense has kept them in games."
So has Negaunee's D, which allows 12 points a contest behind All-Upper Peninsula performers Alex Dempsey at tackle, Adam Francis at linebacker and Tyler LaJoie at defensive back.
"Our game plan hasn't changed much," Jacobson said. "We have to execute offensively and take care of the ball on offense. On defense, we have to take the ball back."
Senior quarterback Tanner Uren, senior running backs Francis and Dustin Goupille, and junior Tyler LaJoie, along with 6-foot-7 wide receiver Brock Weaver, lead the Miners' offense.
The Miners, with a three-game winning streak after a 14-6 win over Calumet for a district title, will be playing their third straight playoff game at home.
"We love playing at home. Any time we get a team in our stadium, we feel that's our 12th man," Jacobson said. "It's a huge advantage, especially when you don't have to travel eight hours to play."
The weather forecast calls for a good chance of rain and a high near 50 degrees for Saturday. Jacobson said on-field conditions won't be a factor for his team.
"It'll be the same for both teams," he said. "We practice and play on it, so it'll be no hindrance at all."
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251.