MOUNTAIN IRON — As an eighth grader, Asher Zubich got a taste of U.S. Bank Stadium as part of the first Mountain Iron-Buhl football team to make it to the state semifinals since 1972.
As a freshman starting quarterback last year, Zubich had taken on a much bigger role with the team and led the Rangers to yet another state semifinal appearance.
All signs pointed to Zubich and the Rangers trying to head to U.S. Bank Stadium for the third year in a row, but MI-B’s plans were stopped short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite that, the gains on the field made by Zubich and the rest of the Rangers could not be denied as they played their way to a perfect 5-0 before the season was shut down in November.
Over those five games, Zubich put up astronomical numbers for MI-B, rushing for 802 yards, passing for 822 more and accounting for 19 total touchdowns. Any way you slice it, Zubich continued to trend upward in his second year as MI-B’s starting quarterback and it looks like things are going to get even better in his final two seasons.
For his performance this season, MI-B’s Asher Zubich has been named the All-Iron Range Football Player of the Year by the Mesabi Tribune and the Grand Rapids Herald-Review.
Before COVID-19 changed everything, Zubich said the goal has always remained the same: Find ways to get better.
“Keep working hard, no matter what it is,” Zubich said. “You have to keep lifting, stay in shape and make sure you’re ready for anything that comes your way.”
Making it to the state semifinals first as an eighth grader, Zubich said that experience has been one of the biggest motivators as the years go by.
“It was crazy enough getting to experience that last year but getting to do it the year before as an eighth grader was just amazing. All of us took that trip to the Bank and said that we can do it again and again if we worked as hard as that group of seniors did.”
Still only in the 10th grade, there’s plenty more for the quarterback to learn but Zubich says he’s ready to tackle anything head on.
“I’m a football player just like everybody else. Give me an assignment and I’ll do my best to do it. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how many years of experience you have. If I work my hardest then I know there’s a lot I can do.”
Zubich’s coach and father Dan Zubich says his son Asher keeps that attitude day in and day out by being a great self-motivator.
“There’s not too many days where he says he’s tired or wants a break,” Dan Zubich said. “Every once in a while he’ll need a day off but he has the ability to just keep going and going and he really motivates himself most of the time.”
One way the sophomore Zubich is aiming to get better is by improving his read on defensive coverage. While the shortened season provided less opportunities to do that, Asher believed there was progress in the right direction.
“I went in wanting to be able to read defensive coverage better and understand the plays a bit more. There’s always room for improvement but I felt like I did a good job of that this year.”
His father agreed, saying the progression on reads has been improving steadily year after year.
“He’s starting to read all three levels of the defense,” Dan Zubich said. “That’s hard for a quarterback. It takes time for them to pick that up. He started just reading the defensive ends and tackles and then we worked in the linebackers last year and now we’re starting to read everybody and hopefully he picks that up more as time goes on.”
In addition to reading the defense, Zubich says improving his running game on offense and continuing to use his voice on defense are keys to helping his game.
“For me, defense is a chance to make up for any mistakes you make on offense,” Asher said. “You need to have that strong defense if you want to win games. stopping the other team from scoring is just as important as the offense.”
Also a key piece to Zubich’s success is his time spent in the weight room. As a standout on both the football and basketball teams, utilizing weights is an important way to improve his game.
“So many things help with both football and basketball but the weight room is probably the most important. Staying committed to that and making sure my teammates get in there as well is probably one of the most important parts to any team.”
On maintaining a presence in the weight room, Coach Zubich, like many other head coaches, knows the value of a solid weight training program.
“For the kids that go in there and work hard every time,” the coach said. “We know that they do that and it shows on the field. It translates so easily onto the field and a lot of the time, games are won or lost before they even start. The weight room is a big part of that.”
With MI-B boasting a 15-2 record over the last two seasons, the superstar Zubich knows that there’s going to be a target on his team’s back. Fortunately for him, that’s just another way to stay motivated.
“That, to me, is going to lead to even more success,” Asher said. “If we know people are looking to knock us off or take us down, that’s just going to keep us motivated to work even harder.”
As far as goals for next season, assuming everything is normal, Zubich is setting his sights on a state title game appearance.
“Making it to that game would be huge. The thought of winning it though would be even better. That’s something you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Coming from a small school like this playing in 9-man, that’s such a huge accomplishment. All of our guys are working towards that one goal and we want to do everything we can to make it there.”
In addition to Zubich, the 2020 All-Iron Range Football team includes: Alex Benkusky, Sam Lokken, Nik Jesch, Braden Tiedeman and Hunter Weigel of Mountain Iron-Buhl, Noah Schmoll, Andy Thomsen, John Bonner, Dane Kennedy, Caden Hofstad, Trent Johnson and Kater Olson of Grand Rapids; Beau Barry and Nathan Linder of Cherry; Jude Sundquist and Bryce Warner of Chisholm;; Amari Manning and Hayden Verhel of Hibbing; Keegan Warmuth of Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin; TJ Chiabotti and Jared Chiabotti of North Woods; Gavin Skelton of Mesabi East; Lane Anderson of Ely; Austin Rasley and Tait Kongsjordm of Deer River; Tucker Holm of Hill City/Northland; Bralyn Lislegard of Northeast Range; and Jack Toman, Mason Carlson, Ryan Scherf, Gavin Dahl and Jacob Burress of Virginia.