Prep football: Rangers ground Mariners

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Mountain Iron-Buhl's Braden Tiedeman (8) intercepts a pass intended for Silver Bay's Luc Stadler (17) in the first half of the Section 7 Nine-Man final Thursday at Esko Athletic Complex. (Tyler Schank /

ESKO — Mountain Iron-Buhl coach Dan Zubich wasn’t happy with his team’s sluggish start Thursday, Oct. 31, so naturally, he got on the team’s quarterback.

“I got it, I got it, I got it,” said Rangers freshman quarterback Asher Zubich, who happens to be Dan’s son.

Zubich responded by having a hand in the next four touchdowns — two rushing and two passing — as the Rangers scored 34 unanswered points to turn a 7-0 deficit into a rout in the Section 7 Nine-Man title game. It could have even been five straight TDs for Zubich if a lateral to Dillon Drake had been ruled a forward pass.

“I always try to stay confident, no matter what,” Asher Zubich said. “We’re just a team that never gives up. We just keep fighting.”


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Silver Bay wide receiver Carter Zabrocki (28) tackles Mountain Iron-Buhl wide receiver Aidan Bissonette (19) in the first half of the Section 7 Nine-Man final Thursday at Esko Athletic Complex. (Tyler Schank /

Both Zubich and Drake rushed for more than 100 yards and Aidan Bissonette had two touchdown receptions for top-seeded MIB (9-1), which advanced to play the Section 5 champion (South Ridge or McGregor) Friday, Nov. 8, at Public Schools Stadium in Duluth. Silver Bay, the No. 2 seed, finished 8-3.

Senior Mason Ollman capped his stellar Mariners career with 215 yards and a touchdown. Ollman finished the season with 1,926 yards and 24 touchdowns and is looking to play college football.

Silver Bay running back Mason Ollman (44) blocks a tackle by Mountain Iron-Buhl wide receiver Aidan Bissonette (19) in the first half of the Section 7 Nine-Man finals Thursday, Oct. 31, at Esko Athletic Complex. (Tyler Schank /

The Mariners dealt with an injury to senior quarterback Riley Tiboni and turned the ball over too many times to beat a team like MIB, with Drake having a fumble recovery and Bissonette and Braden Tiedeman had interceptions for the Rangers.

“The second quarter we made a couple mistakes, a couple things we didn’t convert on and they took advantage of it with their high-powered offense,” Silver Bay coach Ward Kaiser said.

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Mountain Iron-Buhl quarterback Asher Zubich (2) leaps in the air to celebrate a touchdown in the first half of the Section 7 Nine-Man final against Silver Bay on Thursday at Esko Athletic Complex. (Tyler Schank /
Duluth News Tribune


The game pitted the rugged running of Ollman against the multi-faceted attack of MIB.

“We put this offense in three years ago as a way to spread it out so that the defense couldn’t key on any one person,” Dan Zubich said.

Of course, it helps having skill players like Bissonette, Drake and most importantly, Asher Zubich. Despite being just a freshman, Zubich has uncanny skills and good size (6-foot-1) for his age.

“You know, when you live in a coach’s house, you’re playing football and watching football and around football ever since you were a little kid,” Kaiser said. “He’s a good quarterback.”

Of course, being the son of a coach and a quarterback brings some added scrutiny, but it’s heat that the younger Zubich can take.

“He’s been coaching me my whole life, so I’m used to it,” Asher Zubich said.

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Mountain Iron-Buhl quarterback Asher Zubich (2) passes the ball to avoid a tackle by Silver Bay in the first half of the Section 7 Nine-Man final Thursday at Esko Athletic Complex. (Tyler Schank /


Silver Bay 7-0-0-7—14 Mtn. Iron-Buhl 6-20-8-0—34

SB — Derek Thompson 9 pass from Luke Stadler (Elijah Blanck kick)
MIB — Aidan Bissonette 7 pass from Asher Zubich (run failed)
MIB — Zubich 30 run (pass failed)
MIB — Zubich 19 run (pass failed)
MIB — Bissonette 30 pass from Zubich (Hunter Weigel run)
MIB — Dillon Drake 4 run (Sam Lokken pass from Zubich)
SB — Mason Ollman 5 run (Blanck kick)
Jon Nowacki joined the News Tribune in August 1998 as a sports reporter. He grew up in Stephen, Minnesota, in the northwest corner of the state, where he was actively involved in school and sports and was a proud member of the Tigers’ 1992 state championship nine-man football team.

After graduating in 1993, Nowacki majored in print journalism at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, serving as editor of the college paper, “The Aquin,” and graduating with honors in December 1997. He worked with the Associated Press during the “tobacco trial” of 1998, leading to the industry’s historic $206 billion settlement, before moving to Duluth.

Nowacki started as a prep reporter for the News Tribune before moving onto the college ranks, with an emphasis on Minnesota Duluth football, including coverage of the Bulldogs’ NCAA Division II championships in 2008 and 2010.

Nowacki continues to focus on college sports while filling in as a backup on preps, especially at tournament time. He covers the Duluth Huskies baseball team and auto racing in the summer. When time allows, he also writes an offbeat and lighthearted food column entitled “The Taco Stand,” a reference to the “Taco Jon” nickname given to him by his older brother when he was a teenager that stuck with him through college. He has a teenage daughter, Emma.

Nowacki can be reached at or (218) 380-7027. Follow him on Twitter @TacoJon1.
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