NMU football coach Kyle Nystrom press conference August 28

Northern Michigan University head football coach Kyle Nystrom broke down the team’s depth chart heading into the season opener and talked about some of the biggest challenges freshmen face in adjusting to the college game.

Westwood dominates Houghton in football season opener 42-0

By Blake Froling

The Patriots got off to a fast start at Sherman Field against the Gremlins and never looked back, winning 42-0 in the season opener.

Taylor Dellangelo broke the scoreless tie with a 33-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter. After a Houghton three-and-out, Westwood took over and scored again, this time courtesy of a 49-yard scamper from Nathan Beckman to make it 14-0.

Just seconds into the second quarter, Ashton Bergman got in on the fun and plowed through the Gremlin defense for a 39-yard touchdown score to put Westwood up 22-0 after a two-point conversion.

Late in the second quarter, Westwood drove 76 yards down the field and Beckman punched it in from four yards out to make the score 28-0.

Houghton only had one kickoff in the entire game and it did not go well. Dellangelo received it with a running start deep in Westwood territory, picked up several blocks and took it about 85 yards for a touchdown. 36-0 Patriots.

Westwood’s second unit entered the game in the second half and picked up where the starters left off, not allowing a single Houghton point. Sophomore Garrett Mann took over for Beckman at quarterback and led Westwood to a score on his first varsity drive early in the fourth quarter, giving the Patriots their 42-0 win.

Dellangelo was our ESPN UP Player of the Game for his performances in all three phases of the game. He rushed for 184 yards and a touchdown, he returned a kickoff for a touchdown and intercepted a pass on defense.

The Westwood defense as a unit stifled Houghton all night, holding the Gremlins to 46 total yards. Quarterback George Butvilas only completed one of his eight passes for six yards.

Offensively, Westwood looked like a well-oiled machine outside of a few penalties, rushing for 452 yards. Bergman totaled 116 of those yards on just nine carries, while Beckman had 87 yards on four runs. Erik Anderson rushed seven times for 23 yards and Adam Hyttinen carried the ball seven times for 41 yards.

Beckman was 6-11 through the air for 50 yards, hitting Jacob Adriano, Chad Pohlman and Dellangelo twice each.

Westwood’s next game will be against Iron Mountain at home starting at 7 p.m.

Note: all stats are unofficial

Kickoff Show: Paul Jacobson, Negaunee Miners

2017: 4-5, missed playoffs

Key losses: TE Luke Mattson, OLB/FB Jake Hill, RB Robbie Williams

Key returners: QB Jason Waterman, WR Drew DuShane, OL Collin Remilong, MLB/FB Peyton Anderson

Experience and continuity are two luxuries coach Paul Jacobson lacked last year, which caused the Miners to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Now Negaunee returns nine starters on each side of the ball, including all-conference quarterback Jason Waterman and special teams player of the year Drew DuShane. Look for the Miners to be one of the top teams in the new WestPAC Big Division. 

Wildcats, Huskies voted near bottom of GLIAC football coaches poll

By Blake Froling

Football season is almost upon us, which means it’s officially preseason polls season. Northern Michigan University and Michigan Tech might not like what they see from the GLIAC coaches poll released today.

The Wildcats were picked to finish seventh in the conference after a disappointing 1-9 campaign in 2017. They return GLIAC Offensive Back of the Year Jake Mayon, who rushed for 1,377 yards and eight touchdowns last season. Quarterback Ryan Johnson also returns after starting as a freshman, he threw for 1,581 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions..

The defense is what will ultimately decide if the Wildcats can rise above seventh in the conference. The unit finished seventh in the conference in points allowed, last in yards allowed and tied for seventh in sacks.

Michigan Tech was picked to finish eighth in the conference after going 3-6 in 2017. The offense was anemic at times as the Huskies finished ninth in scoring.

The GLIAC will have just nine football teams this season after Tiffin University moved to the Great Midwest Athletic Conference.

Photo: @GLIACsports Twitter

Jon Reschke returns to Spartans year after insensitive comments

Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer

CHICAGO — Michigan State linebacker Jon Reschke, who made racially insensitive comments about a teammate in January 2017 and left the program soon after, is back on the Spartans roster and may return this season.

Coach Mark Dantonio said Tuesday that Reschke, a starter in 2015, is taking the necessary steps toward a return this season but has permanently lost his scholarship. Dantonio said he’s largely leaving Reschke’s status up to the players.

“I talked to our football team and our players and said, ‘Hey, if you guys want him back, then you have to bring him back,'” Dantonio said Tuesday. “It has to be a decision made by our African-American players, led by them, and they have to support that.”

In a February 2017 statement announcing his decision to transfer from Michigan State, Reschke apologized for an “insensitive and totally regrettable comment involving a former teammate. In so doing, I have hurt and offended countless number of people, and for that, I am deeply sorry. If I could take my comment back, I would do so in a second.”

Reschke ultimately did not leave for another program and suffered a knee injury that kept him out for the 2017 season. He received approval for a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA, citing the injuries he had in both 2016, when he appeared in just two games, and 2017. Reschke has 101 career tackles playing for MSU between 2014 and 2016.

Dantonio brought up the idea of Reschke’s return to the team in January and has checked in with players each month. Reschke participated in some of the team’s offseason conditioning program.

“I’m hopefully allowing healing to take place among our players,” Dantonio said. “We’ll take a step-by-step approach. He’s not on scholarship, nor will he be on scholarship. He paid the ultimate price by being out of football for a year.”

Dantonio later added: “All indications from our players are they do want him in camp.”

Photo: Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire


The ‘real Kevin King’ should finally appear in training camp

Rob Demovsky, ESPN Staff Writer

GREEN BAY, Wis. — The hooting and hollering from the other end of the locker room was so loud that it interrupted Aaron Rodgers’ session with reporters. Twice, Rodgers paused and looked to his right, where a group of Green Bay Packers defensive backs were whooping it up.

Kevin King was not among them.

King sat quietly at his locker while a group that included the Packers’ top two 2018 draft picks — Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson — went about their locker room fun.

Jim Matthews/Green Bay Press Gazette via USA TODAY Sports

The same can be said for what’s happened on the field this spring, where the addition of Alexander and Jackson to the cornerback position added some much-needed juice. Meanwhile, King, the Packers’ top draft pick in 2017, has been limited only to individual drills to let his surgically repaired left shoulder heal.

More than a year after the Packers picked him at No. 33 overall, they still haven’t seen King at his best. Assistant coach Joe Whitt, who tutored the cornerbacks last season before his promotion to defensive passing game coordinator, said after King’s season ended prematurely because of the injury that “you haven’t really seen the real Kevin King yet.”

That statement holds true — for now — but Whitt believes that will change soon.

“Hopefully in training camp,” Whitt said this offseason. “Hopefully he’ll be full-go in training camp. He’s been really attentive; he’s worked his butt off in the workroom. The guys in the workroom are just raving about the way his work ethic hasn’t necessarily changed, but from Year 1 to 2 you grow up, and he’s matured that way.

“He’s been in [cornerback] Tramon Williams’ back pocket the whole time learning, not just necessarily the defense but how to be a pro and how to be in the league 13 years. So he’s doing everything. He’s been in my back pocket, ‘Hey, Joe, what’s the defense here?’ Because he hasn’t been on the field, but he wants to know what every call is. He wants to communicate with myself and [cornerbacks coach] Jason [Simmons] and make sure that he understands the checks on the side so he can get mental reps each time. But you’ll see the real Kevin King come training camp.”

The 6-foot-3 King gave the Packers something they didn’t have — a lanky, long-armed cornerback suited to cover the NFL’s sky-scraping receivers. Almost immediately, however, a shoulder injury that hampered him in college resurfaced. He didn’t make it through the first week of training camp without issue. He tried to play through it for as long as he could, appearing in nine games while wearing a restrictive harness before the Packers shut him down. Despite the injury, he showed he was a willing tackler, and although he didn’t record an interception, he broke up eight passes before he underwent surgery in December to repair the torn labrum.

“I feel good,” King said. “I went to the best surgeon in the world, Dr. [James] Andrews. He got me right, so I feel good.”

Still, the Packers haven’t let King participate in 11-on-11 periods during OTA practices and probably won’t during next week’s minicamp, either. That leaves new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine still somewhat unsure of what he has in the second-year cornerback.

“It’s hard to tell at this point because I know a lot of the film from last year, that he was playing essentially with one arm,” Pettine said. “Just in talking to Joe and Jason, they think the world of him and think the ceiling is real high there. Just looking at him, it surprised me; I didn’t realize how tall he is until I met him in person. Just with receivers getting bigger and bigger — just look at the guys we’ve got to cover in practice — it will be nice to have a corner with that size and length.”

Given how limited King was last season, it seemed curious that one NFL executive already has written off King in comments to ESPN’s Mike Sando for an Insider story evaluating each team’s offseason moves. Said the personnel evaluator: “Green Bay has to take corners because they missed on [Damarious] Randall, they missed on [Quinten] Rollins, they probably missed on the Washington kid last year [Kevin King].”

The Packers brought back Davon House, who started 12 games last season, and re-signed Williams after three years away from Green Bay. Even with the addition of Alexander and Jackson, there’s a good chance King will be one of the two starters on the outside when the season opens. So far, Alexander has looked like a capable No. 3 corner in the slot.

“I think it’s going to be a big jump for him,” House said of King. “I’m excited to see what he looks like healthy because last year he was banged up the whole year, and I thought last year he wasn’t bad at all for a rookie. So I’m excited to see what he brings this year.”


Former MSU players sentenced to 3 years’ probation

Dan Murphy, ESPN Staff Writer

LANSING, Mich. — Three former Michigan State football players convicted of seduction charges were sentenced to three years of probation Wednesday morning and will undergo sexual offender treatment during that time.

Josh King, Donnie Corley and Demetric Vance all said they had learned valuable life lessons from the past 18 months in the legal process, but they said a young woman’s assertion that the three of them raped her in the bathroom of an on-campus apartment in January 2017 was not true. All three pleaded guilty to felony seduction charges in April in exchange for prosecutors dropping more significant criminal sexual conduct charges.

The woman involved in the incident submitted a statement to the court Wednesday that said she agreed to the plea deal for the sake of her mental health. Her attorney, Karen Truszkowski, read the plea and later said her client is now handling the counseling process for her post-traumatic stress well.

William Purnell/Icon Sportswire

“I became terrified to sleep because of persistent nightmares,” the woman said in her statement. “I clenched my jaw so hard in my sleep that I ruined my retainer in well under a year. … Unfortunately, this plea has allowed all three defendants to avoid admitting what really happened that night. It’s heartbreaking to admit that I have zero confidence that a significant level of deterrence will come out of this.”

The woman told police last year that King pulled her into a bathroom during a party, assaulted her and then invited Corley and Vance into the room, where they forced her to perform oral sex. An attorney representing Vance refuted the claim that anyone pulled the woman into the bathroom, and all three former players said the sex they had with the young woman was consensual.

Prosecutors originally charged King with first-degree criminal sexual conduct — a crime that carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. They charged Corley and Vance with third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

King, Corley and Vance admitted in April that they seduced the woman into oral sex at the party. Prosecutor Steve Kwasnik said law enforcement officials were able to recover one Snapchat video recorded during the encounter. King admitted that he recorded the video and pleaded guilty to a felony charge of surveilling an unclothed person.

“I understand that the actions I did back then were stupid and childish,” King said. “I am very wrong for sending out a video of the actions. Things like that should be kept private. I admit wrongdoing in that sense.”

King and Corley both admitted to doing wrong and behaving immaturely while maintaining that they did not rape the woman. Vance’s attorney, Mary Chartier, said it was important that her client and the other two men should not be labeled rapists. Vance, when asked directly by Judge Rosemarie Aquilina if he thought he did anything wrong, said, “No, your honor.” He said he learned valuable lessons about being careful with the choices he makes.

The seduction charge is a felony last updated by state legislators in 1931. It makes it illegal for men to “seduce and debauch an unmarried woman.” A seduction charge does not imply that the act was non-consensual. Prosecutors said in April that they “consistently, but infrequently” use the “antiquated” law to compel a plea without forcing the defendant to register as a sex offender.

All three former players were also entered into a diversionary program for young offenders that will give them a clean record if they make it through their probationary period without any further incidents.

Truszkowski, the woman’s attorney, said the sentencing was the best outcome they could have hoped for in this circumstance.

Kwasnik told the court that his office believed the plea deal was “the most just outcome that was attainable” and that accepting the deal did not mean the prosecutors felt the woman’s account of what happened was untrue. He said his office was troubled that all three defendants lied to and misled police when they were first interviewed and appalled at the entitlement and self-importance they displayed on the night of the incident.

“They seem to be at best oblivious to the idea that a young woman at a party would not be interested in engaging in sexual acts and at worst completely unmoved that she was not,” Kwasnik said. “And for the record, she was not.”

Judge Aquilina chided the former players for being self-absorbed and harming the woman. She took exception with Vance and Chartier specifically for not taking more responsibility for doing wrong.

“Your statement is lacking any accountability on behalf of your client and continues to victimize the victim,” Aquilina said. “It is disturbing to me.”

Aquilina is the same Ingham County judge who sentenced former Michigan State and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar to up to 175 years in prison earlier this year. Aquilina received widespread praise for the support and encouragement she showed survivors of sexual abuse during Nassar’s weeklong sentencing hearing in January. She had the option to sentence the three men to up to five years in prison for the seduction charges, but if she applied any jail time, all three would have been able to withdraw their guilty pleas and go to trial.

The parents of the young woman also provided a statement to the court in which they said they didn’t feel justice was achieved with this plea deal. The statement said that the three men “overpowered and raped a defenseless girl half their size while they had her trapped in a bathroom.” It said that the family didn’t think this sentence would help prevent similar crimes from happening in the future.

“It turns out there are many forces at work, and neither of those things will happen as a result of this case,” her parents said. “This case represents everything that is wrong at Michigan State University, especially in the athletic department.”

Four former Michigan State football players — including King, Corley and Vance — were dismissed from the team after being accused of sexual misconduct in 2017. Classmate Auston Robertson, who is awaiting trial on first-degree criminal sexual misconduct charges, was the fourth player removed from the team.

The university is currently a defendant in multiple lawsuits that allege Michigan State has mishandled sexual assault complaints lodged against student-athletes. The school also recently agreed to pay $500 million to settle hundreds of lawsuits connected to the abuse by Nassar — a doctor who worked with the athletic programs on campus and admitted to assaulting his patients when they came to see him for treatment.

Michigan State suspended King, Corley and Vance from the football team in February 2017, shortly after police made the team aware that they were being investigated. Football coach Mark Dantonio dismissed them from the team last June when they were formally charged, and the school expelled them last July after finding in a Title IX hearing that they had violated the school’s relationship violence and sexual misconduct policy.

Corley and Vance attended Coahoma Community College in Mississippi during the past academic year. King plans to join them at the same school this summer. The athletes indicated in court that they hope to continue their football careers there.