Francour tops U.P. defense
Maroon linebacker named Defensive Player of the Year
Friday, November 01, 2013 7:00 PM
MARQUETTE, Mich. - Dreams can come true on the football field but they are earned through offseason sweat in the weight room and dedication to team.
Ryne Francour may be undersized as a middle linebacker but when it comes to making an impact, Menominee's defensive leader made the biggest hit of the season.
Francour was honored as the All-U.P. Large School Defensive Player of the Year at the 64th annual U.P. Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association meeting Thursday at Northern Michigan University.
The U.P. honor follows the top defensive player award Francour received Sunday from Great Northern Conference coaches.
The soft-spoken, 5-9, 165-pound senior has been the pivot-point of the Maroons' defense of destruction the last two years.
"Last year a Clare coach said the Maroon players are the salt of the earth," Menominee coach Joe Noha said. "Ryne is the core of our salt.
"He's paid the price for his success in the weight room and the classroom. His desire to play Maroon football is matched by no one."
The Maroon captain registered 40 solo tackles among his 74 tackles this season and used his quickness off the snap to rack up seven sacks. One of Francour's personal highlights this season was picking off a pass and returning it for a touchdown.
Francour is joined on the All-U.P. Dream Team by teammate Lucas LaPerriere and Stephenson's David Bayerl.
LaPerriere, a 5-10, 215-pound guard, was the driving force on a Maroon offensive line that paved the way for 251 rushing yards per game.
Heading into his senior year, LaPerriere was even on the radar screen for postseason honors.
"Before the season I didn't see Luke being an all-conference player," said Noha. "He put in a lot of work in the offseason. He showed what hard work and focus can do."
LaPerriere earned All-GNC laurels and was the leading vote-getter in balloting for Dream Team guards.
"He's an outstanding blocker on the trap for us," said Noha.
Bayerl bashed his way into the Stephenson record books with his relentless drive off the defensive line and into opposing backfields.
The Mid Eastern Conference Defensive Lineman of the Year set the Eagles' record with a whopping 20 tackles for a loss, including seven sacks.
Stephenson coach Chad Brandt noted that Bayerl's motor never stopped running.
"He really used his speed off the ball," coach Brandt said. "I never had any doubt about David playing hard. He always played hard."
The 5-10, 160 pound tackle had 33 solo tackles and 73 tackles for the season. Bayerl is a two-time All Mid Eastern Conference selection.
Menominee received the Barber Trophy as the Class A-B Team of the Year.
Ishpeming quarterback Alex Briones was a unanimous choice as the Large School Offensive Player of the Year.
The 6-0, 180 pound senior passed for 1,050 yards with no interceptions and rushed for 814 yards and 13 touchdowns on 111 carries for the 9-0 Hematites.
Ishpeming coach Jeff Olson calls Briones "the best quarterback I've ever coached." Brionnes is being recruited by Northern Michigan University and has also drawn interest from some Division 1 schools.
An eight-man player, Jake Pearson of unbeaten Rapid River, was named the Small School Offensive Player of the Year. Pearson amassed 1,667 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns and passed for 753 yards and nine touchdowns.
North Central linebacker Eric Prestay is the Small School Defensive Player of the Year. Prestay had 110 tackles, including nine tackles for a loss for the Jets. Prestay earned Dream Team honors at linebacker and was also the Dream Team punter.
Ishpeming is the Class C Team of the Year and Forest Park received Class D honors.
Houghton's Karl Borree is the Large School Coach of the Year. Borree's Gremlins play Menominee in the Division 5 playoffs today. Noha earned honorable mention recognition for Coach of the Year.
Bill Santilli of Forest Park, who led the Trojans to a 9-0 season, is the Small School Coach of the Year. Kevin Bellefuile of North Central was an honorable mention recipient.