ESCANABA - Area teams received good representation in the selection process for the All-U.P. football team, as voted on by a panel of Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscaster Association on Wednesday.
Mirroring the All-Great Northern Conference team that was announced earlier this week, three Escanaba Eskymos and Steve Strom of Gladstone were named to the Large School team.
Dave Falish of Escanaba was selected as the top quarterback among Class A-B-C schools after coming five votes short of being selected to the Dream Team. The school record-breaking quarterback is the first player in Escanaba school history to have rushed, passed and received for 800 yards or more in each category in a career. During his senior year, Falish put up 1,925 yards of total offense, rushing for 1,293 yards and passing for 632 more with 24 total touchdowns.
"Dave is one of the best and hardest working kids we've ever had at Escanaba. No one in the U.P. did more for their team than Dave did," Escanaba head coach Jim Hansen said early in the week. Falish's lineman Dave Fix was also selected, having anchored the Escanaba tackle position for both Falish and former Eskymo Austin Young during his career.
He allowed zero sacks this season and racked up 33 pancakes.
"Dave Fix is one of the best and most dominant lineman that we've had," said Hansen. "We ran behind Dave whenever we needed to have yards, and we got them."
On defense, Eskymo linebacker Casey Deshambo was selected. The senior defender had 70 tackles this season, including eight tackles for loss. Hansen called him, "The heart of our defense.
"Casey was rarely wrong or out of position. He had tackles for loss on base defense plays, not blitzes and he understands the game well and does his job meticulously."
Gladstone lineman Steve Strom made the team at center. Strom did not allow a sack this season while protecting Braves quarterback Sam Pouliot.
"The dedication Steve has put in is phenomenal," said Gladstone coach Josh Mileski. "We pass quite a bit and he hasn't allowed a sack, not even close. Physically, he's bar-none the best person we play out of the 3-point stance.
"Steve is a kid who you could put on any team in the U.P., and he could start."
Manistique running back Kenner Broullire made the Large School team at the kicker position after being perfect on extra points this season.
On the small school team, a couple area eight-man players were chosen, a rarity on the UPSSA panel.
Hayden Hardwick of Rapid River was selected at center. The junior received a good amount of work this season in Rapid River's prolific offense, but didn't have an errant snap.
"We go to the shotgun often and you need a good center to make it go," said Rockets coach Steve Ostrenga. "Hayden has good footwork and we run a lot of plays through him. He definitely can go left or right and is a real good anchor on the line. He can also really catch the ball too. We have some plays set up for him to catch."
At receiver, Dan Steward of Superior Central was selected, after compiling an outstanding season. The 6-3 senior hauled in 40 balls for 820 yards this season, which was far and away the best season, numbers-wise by a receiver in the Upper Peninsula. He caught 10 touchdowns as well and displayed a noteworthy ability to go up and get the ball even in double coverage.
Also making the Small School team was a trio of North Central Jets.
On offense, running back Josh Granquist was selected as a return specialist after missing the nod at running back. Granquist had 993 yards of total offense this season and showed himself to be a very versatile player in the Jets offense.
"Josh is a focal point in our offense. As much as we throw the football, 655 (rushing) yards is quite a bit," said Jets coach Kevin Bellefeuil. "1,000 total yards is a big year for a back in our system which is probably 60-percent rushing and 40-percent passing."
Jets quarterback Rob Granquist was selected as a defensive back and was the lone sophomore in the U.P. to be selected.
Granquist displayed a powerful arm throughout the season and had some nice offensive numbers, but was equally good on defense, where he hauled in five interceptions.
Dyllion Hanchek made the team at linebacker after turning in a solid season on defense. Hancheck had 56 tackles, four quarterback sacks and a fumble recovery.
"Hanchek is a team leader and a four-year varsity player. He's just a great kid," said Bellefeuil.
Missing the cut by a single vote was Rapid River quarterback Jake Pearson, who was amongst very good competition for a single spot. Eric Lane of Gogebic received the nod with six votes while Pearson received five.