Ryne Francour
Ryne Francour
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MENOMINEE - The leadership of opponent-crunching captain Ryne Francour and the record-breaking leg of Evan Pohlmann have helped propel Menominee's drive to the Division 5 state title game and earned Associated Press Division 5-6 All-State honors for the two Maroon seniors.

Francour previously was named the Defensive Player of the Year in the Great Northern Conference and the Big School Defensive Player of the Year in the U.P.

With his ability to read and react on the run, Francour led the Maroons in solo tackles during the regular season with 40, while adding 24 assists. The 5-9, 165-pound dynamo picked off a pass and returned it for a touchdown this season and teamed with defensive ends Justin Brilinski and James Brown to keep opposing quarterbacks on the run.

When teams devise their offensive schemes, they have to figure out a way to contain Francour's speed-bursts to the ball, which usually results in a pad-popping hit.

"He's the epitome of what a Maroon is with his work ethic," coach Joe Noha said. "He's been on a mission to get us to the state title game.

"Ryne's one of the best tacklers we've ever had and he's a great leader."

Maroon defensive coach Dave Mathieu puts Francour among the elite in a long line of great Menominee linebackers.

"I would rank Ryne as one of the greatest middle linebackers of all time," said Mathieu. "He has a nose for the ball. He gets to the ball so quick, teams have a hard time blocking him. He's a special kid. He's been with me for four years and I've really enjoyed having him."

Francour was the senior leader of a Menominee defense that yielded just 93 points during the regular season.

Pohlmann booted more balls over the Walton Blesch Field wall than any kicker in Maroon history.

He has converted 134 extra points in his two-year career and shattered his own U.P. record with 81 PATS this season, just four short of tying the state record.

Pohlmann, who is a soccer player during the summer, attended kicking camps during offseason to become a force on offense and defense.

"Evan's one of the best kickers we've ever had and he's a great leader," Noha said. "During the summer he would stay after morning practice and work on his kicking for hours."

Opposing teams usually have to start at their own 20 because Pohlmann keeps them pinned back with his kicks deep into the end zone.

Pohlmann was named to the All-U.P. Big School team earlier this season and was also the All-GNC kicker.

Mathieu pointed out that Pohlmann has made a 65-yard field goal in practice.

Brilinski passed for 98 yards and rushed for 110 yards in a 47-14 win over Grayling in the district title game, but Grayling's Jake Swander shared all-state honors at quarterback with Division 5-6 Player of the Year Travis Smith of Ithaca. Swander was 9 of 26 for 120 yards against the Maroons.

Noha wouldn't trade Brilinski for anyone on the state list.

"He passed for more than 1,100 yards and rushed for more than 1,100 yards," Noha said. "He's also one of the best blockers out of the backfield and he's relentless at defensive end. He's put in countless hours in the weight room."

Francour and Pohlmann join Negaunee running back Tyler LaJoie as the only U.P. players on the Division 5-6 all-state team.

Grand Rapids West Catholic linebacker Max Boorsma and lineman Joey Corey were also named to the state team.