It's unclear who originally said, "Everyone loves an underdog." In all candor, it's unclear if anyone ever actually said those exact words.
What is perfectly clear, however, is that the Upper Peninsula loves the Ishpeming Hematites football squad, the group of west end players that journeyed south to Detroit and Ford Field in recent days to face what many in the state - especially in the southeastern part of the state - said was the top team in Division 7.
Detroit Loyola was big, fast and with a 13-0 record, undefeated against top opposition. Then came the Hematites, perhaps not quite as big with a 12-1 record. But those guys in blue and white were fast and fundamentally sound, top to bottom.
Loyola was favored to win the game, and from a purely technical standpoint, one can make the case they should have been. But that's why they play the game. And when it was all said and done, Ishpeming won, 20-14, stunning the Wayne and Macomb football worlds that had the Hematites all but buried before kickoff.
The Mining Journal thinks, after all was said and done, Ishpeming was simply the better team down there Saturday morning. They made the plays they had to make, when they had to make them. But there was an intangible, too. The Hematites were playing for something besides the thrill of knocking off a top downstate team and bringing home the trophy. Three teens connected to the football program, Daniel Olson, Derrick Briones and Christopher "Bubba" Croley, all died recently. Olson and Briones were former players and Croley a well-liked team supporter. Certainly, the memories of these young men provided significant inspiration.
We were pleased to see that hundreds of people appeared to salute the team Sunday night. We expect more celebrations in the future.
Congratulations to Coach Jeff Olson and the Ishpeming Hematites, the 2012 Division 7 State Champions.