MARQUETTE - Rob Rubick served as a Fox Sports Detroit television analyst for the state Division 7 prep football championship game between Ishpeming and Detroit Loyola last November.
A Newberry product, the former Detroit Lions tight end said he was impressed with the Hematites' 22-12 win for its second straight state crown.
"They were tougher and more physical (than Loyola)," Rubick said during the Fourth Annual Beacon House Golf Classic Thursday at the Marquette Golf Club.
"They were also extremely well coached. Coach (Jeff) Olson does a good job of keeping it simple. He doesn't ask his kids to do too much.
"And No. 17 (quarterback Alex Briones) is just a man," he added. "He was tough, played to the whistle and made you proud to be a Yooper."
Rubick, a teacher at downstate Lapeer West High School, said the Hematites executed well vs. Loyola.
"Coach Olson doesn't do a whole lot. He only uses 3-4 plays offensively," he said. "But the offensive line comes off the ball, they stay with their blocks and defensively, Ishpeming's gap-sound."
Turning to the Detroit Lions, Rubick said No. 1 draft pick and tight end Eric Ebron will be a "game-changer".
"He'll be a guy who will present tremendous problems for a defense," he said. "The Lions' receiving corps got a lot better."
As for new Lions head coach Jim Caldwell, Rubick said he likes the hire.
"I love him. He's very charismatic, focused and has a plan," the former Grand Valley State star said. "He needs to make the Lions a team again."
Classic host Steve Mariucci, a former Northern Michigan University star quarterback and Lions head coach, said Caldwell is an "experienced guy" who should be a good fit for the NFL squad.
"The Lions have been looking for the right personality, the right chemistry with the right coaching over the last - I don't know - how many decades," he said Thursday.
"He's an offensive guy. He'll be good for (QB) Matthew Stafford, not that Matthew Stafford needs to throw for more yards.
"Jim's a good man with a good staff and they'll be competitive (this season).
"They'll have a lot of offense, but the defense needs to come along. The Lions will be there and are capable of winning," he added.
Entering his ninth season as an analyst for the NFL network, Mariucci said the Beacon House - a hospitality facility for relatives of patients receiving medical care at Marquette General Hospital - has served 165,000 guests since it opened in 2002.
"Anyone of us could use ... the services of the Beacon House. That's why it's so important to support," Mariucci said. "We need to keep it strong and continue to be available for this region.
"It's near and dear to my heart."
Arizona Cardinals kicker Jay Feely, who has taken part in the Classic since its inception, said the event holds special meaning for him.
"Someone in my wife's family stayed at the Beacon House," said Feely, whose wife is from L'Anse and their family spends its summers at Lake Michigamme. "I'm proud of every House event."
He organized a pre-Classic Celebrity Golf Clinic that attracted numerous top instructors.
"It was a good as any golf clinic in the country," Feely said. "I was amazed and thrilled, but some of our golf games today are messed up trying to follow what we learned."
Other celebrities at the Classic included:
Justin Florek, a Marquette native who played for the Boston Bruins of the NHL for part of last season. He scored a playoff goal against the Detroit Red Wings in Boston on April 20.
"It's something special and I'll remember it for the rest of my life," he said. "It was cool to get that playoff experience and especially to score against the Red Wings, the team I've watched my whole life."
A self-described two-dimensional player who works had in the defensive zone and on the penalty kill, Florek doesn't know if he'll make the Bruins' roster this coming season.
"It's hard to say right now," he said. "I'll just go into training camp and earn a job. It'll be tough, but I'm looking forward to the challenge.
"The Bruins are a great, deep organization. I'll just have to put my head down and go to work wherever I'm playing."
Randy McKay, who played for four NHL teams after starring for Michigan Tech University.
"I like to take part in this cause - this is my fourth year," he said. "I can't golf because I had shoulder surgery in February, but it's important to be with the people here."
He no longer is a Tech volunteer hockey coach, but said he still attended every Huskies home game last season.
"I thought they made good strides," he said. "They've got good talent and some young kids. They just need to know what you need to win. That comes with experience."
Robert Brooks, former Green Bay Packers wide receiver who played seven years with the team. He owns a real estate business in Arizona besides being a minister.
"If the Packers can stay healthy, they could go deep into the playoffs (this coming season), maybe to the Super Bowl," he said. "I like the moves they've made in the offseason and their draft."
Eddie Murray, former kicker for the Lions, who said it was a "tale of two teams" for the Lions in 2013.
"They weren't a 6-2 team that started, nor were they the (poor) team that ended. They were in-between," he said. "It forced a change of regime.
"With new coach Jim Caldwell, there will be a new look on offense and defense. It'll be interesting to see how the changes play out with the personnel they have."
He added NFL kickers today are much different than those in his 20 years as a Lion before retiring.
"The guys have gotten bigger and good. Now, if your (field goal) percentages are not 85-90 percent, they're looking to replace you," he said.
John Hiller, former Detroit Tigers relief pitcher:
"The Tigers are going to struggle sometimes. Their starting pitching is wonderful, the defense is together and the hitters are hitting," he said. "The bullpen, though, will probably be a little bit of a struggle all year long.
"(Reliever Joe) Nathan has struggled a bit and that's a sore spot.
"But the Tigers have a great team. I think they're going to win the division again," he added.