Young `Cats ready to fight in the GLIAC

Senior+running+back+Jake+Mayon+meets+an+Angelo+State+University+defender+in+the+open+field+in+a+matchup%0Aagainst+the+Rams+last+season.+Mayon+led+the+team+in+rushing+yards%2C+finishing+with+1%2C377+yards+from+scrimmage.%0APhoto+from+North+Wind+archives

Senior running back Jake Mayon meets an Angelo State University defender in the open field in a matchup against the Rams last season. Mayon led the team in rushing yards, finishing with 1,377 yards from scrimmage. Photo from North Wind archives

Alex Skinner

In the first season under head

coach Kyle Nystrom, the Northern Michigan University Men’s

Football team stumbled to a 1-8
record and a ninth place finish in
the GLIAC Conference.

A promising key for the beginning of the season is the competitiveness the Wildcats displayed

during the final two games of the

season against Wayne State University (WSU) and Northwood

University (NU), respectively. At
a point in the season where the
team was definitivly out of any

playoff consideration, the Wildcats clawed their way to close

finishes, displaying a willingness

to fight back that would benefit
the team to start this year. NMU
scratched their way back from 14
points down against WSU and
held a 24-23 lead before giving
up a late field goal to lose a close
contest.

Against Northwood, the Wildcats traded blows with NU into

the fourth quarter and again
would fall because of a late field

goal. The team shows a determination to finish the fight but

will need help from the defense
if they’ll look to win close games
throughout the season.

The Wildcat defense allowed
20 or more points in every contest
a season ago while surrendering
302 total points. NMU loses their
top tacklers from last season to
graduation in defensive back Pat

Ryan and linebacker Darryl Williams; together these two players

accounted for over 10.5 tackles-per-game (tpg). Junior defensive

back Troy Mayon returns as the
leading tackler for the Wildcats,
averaging 7.9 tpg and finishing
the season with 42 tackles.

NMU also welcomes back two
of their leading sack specialists

in sophomore defensive lineman John McMullen and junior

defensive lineman Cole Van Enkenvort. McMullen led the team

with three forced fumbles and
4.5 sacks last season and looks to
plug up the defensive line again
this season. Van Enkenvort was a

disruptor for opposing squads, accounting for one interception and

forced fumble each and recorded
three sacks.

Coach Nystrom displayed a
young offensive specialist team a

season ago, electing to start freshman quarterback Ryan Johnson.

Johnson as a sophomore this season is looking to carry the same

efficiency he brought last season,
passing for over 1500 yards and
completing 60 percent of his
passes. Touchdown production
will be the key for the Wildcats
this season as Johnson tossed nine

touchdown opposed to four interceptions. Johnson’s pocket-style

mechanics account for the opportunity for heavy passing numbers

but spells trouble when the pocket
collapses, accounting for 35 sacks
on the season.

Senior running back Jake Mayon will carry the load this season

after rushing the ball 211 times
en route to 1377 yards. Mayon’s
stellar career as a Wildcat has
only improved from year to year
as he rushed for 1064 yards as a
sophomore. Mayon is especially

efficient toward the goal line because of his ability to hold onto

the football and the strength he
poses. In nine games played last
season Mayon only fumbled the
ball once to go along with his
eight touchdowns scored.

Northern Michigan begins
their season Saturday, Sept. 1
on the road against Mckendree
University. The Wildcats begin
their home season the following
week as they take on the
University of Texas Permian
Basin Falcons on Saturday, Sept.
8.