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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Amelia Kashian
Amelia Kashian
Assistant Features Editor

Being passionate is one of the best parts of being human, and I am glad that writing has helped me recognize that. I have been writing stories since I was a little girl, and over...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Photo courtesy of NMU WellBeing
A Q&A with WellBeing
Rachel PottDecember 4, 2023

Defense triumphant at spring game

When the final whistle blew in the Superior Dome on Saturday evening, the NMU football team removed their game uniforms for the first time this season.

Finally playing with the 2007 class of recruits, the Wildcat defense defeated the Wildcat offense 43-34 in the annual NMU spring game, capping off a spring practice schedule that began on March 26.

“It’s a big thing for our players because we go to game uniforms, it’s the last [spring practice] in 15, it’s a game situation and it’s a final evaluation,” head coach Bernie Anderson said.

In order to better simulate the desired game atmosphere, Anderson chose to allow his defense to play full speed, taking the quarterback to the ground numerous times.

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A specialized scoring system was also implemented for the game, which awarded defensive points for touchdowns, turnovers, sacks, missed field goals, tackles for loss and forced punts.

The offense garnered points with touchdowns, field goals, passes of more than 25 yards, runs of more than 20 yards, passes of more than 15 yards and runs of more than 10 yards.

The players rotated throughout the game and many unfamiliar faces saw time on the field. One of these players was sophomore quarterback Ben Hempel, who took the vast majority of the snaps in the second half.

Due to injury, junior quarterback Buddy Rivera was unable to play in the game.

That left sophomore Vincent Church and Hempel as the only viable quarterbacks for the spring game.

Late in the first half, however, Church separated his shoulder and Hempel, the former all-state quarterback from Franklin, Wisc., was left on the field for the remainder of the game.

After the injury to Church, Hempel donned a red jersey, which signified the fact that, as the last quarterback remaining, he could no longer be tackled.

“It’s more emotionally draining than physically,” Hempel said. “I was trying to read and play-call and stuff like that. I got a good workout and probably lost about 10 pounds. I’ll have to eat a bunch tonight and over the next couple weeks to gain it back.”

Hempel, who has not played extensively since his high school career came to an end two years ago, finished the game with two touchdowns and one interception.

One face that was familiar to the quarterback was that of incoming freshman wide receiver Keven Hagans, who played high school ball with Hempel.

Hagans snagged four passes during the game, despite also not playing since high school.

“It felt real good to have that old connection again,” Hempel said. “He hasn’t played in a while and he was a little rusty this spring. He’s worked hard, busted his butt and has improved the whole time. He showed today that he is a guy that could be contributing, hopefully next year.”

Hagans wasn’t the only receiver that made his presence known, though. Wide receiver Zach Nichols snagged both of Hempel’s touchdown tosses.

“The wide receivers, tight ends, O-line – if I did good, they’re the ones that make me look good,” Hempel said. “We’ve been working hard during the winter, running routes and trying to get timing down. If they come out and play like that every time we’ve got a great chance of having a real good season next year.”

Although the offense shined at times during the game, the defense stepped up as well. At one point in the fourth quarter, Hempel was sacked on four out of five plays.

The sudden pressure helped to build the defense’s eventual winning margin.

“The score shows we won, but we don’t take much from that,” junior linebacker Nathan Yelk said. “We still made errors. We did a lot of positive things. I thought we worked real well as a unit. One of the brightest spots for us is to be as one defense.”

Yelk added that superb play of the defensive line coupled with solid pressure in the secondary led to numerous sacks on Hempel.

It may well be a sign of a step up for a Wildcat defense that ranked last in the GLIAC in three out of four major defensive categories last season.

The team, as a whole, will look to improve next season after winning just seven games in the past three years.

The group hopes that future success will bring more fans to the Superior Dome and on Saturday the ‘Cats set out on the right track, Anderson said.

“I think we got a lot of parents and I think we have some loyal football fans tonight,” Anderson said. “It was good to see 1,000-plus people and that’s a start. I think that we can make this better down the road as we get better and you’re going to see the attendance at this game grow.”

The Wildcats’ 2007 season opens up on Sept. 1, when they will travel to Indianapolis to take on the Greyhounds, where kick-off is set for 6 p.m.

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