MOUNTAIN IRON — Six players who gave their all for their Mountain Iron and Mountain Iron-Buhl football teams are set to be inducted Saturday into the Mountain Iron/Buhl Football Hall of Fame.
The boys (now men) put in the time and a lot of extra work to help their squads succeed in years past.
MI-B head football coach Dan Zubich said his current players are inspired by what they accomplished over the years and will get a little more motivation at Saturday’s induction, which is set for 10 a.m. in the Ranger Gymnasium.
Assistant coach Brian Buffetta, who coached some of the inductees, has told the 2019 players just how good the Hall of Famers were and that they expect the current players to put on a good show, Zubich added.
In addition to the induction, former greats Edward Scinto, Michael Zupetz, Tom Belpedio, Willie Buffetta, Chuck Overbye and Matt Cerkvenik will get to take part in an entire day of activities.
Prior to the induction, the fifth- and sixth-grade team will play at 9 a.m. at the MI-B field.
The main event will feature the Rangers varsity taking on Lake of the Woods at noon. That will be followed by the fifth- and sixth-graders playing again at 4 p.m. and the third- and fourth-graders playing at 5 p.m.
Zubich is looking forward to the induction ceremony and so are his players.
“They hear all the speeches and stuff,’’ which fires them up a bit, Zubich added. “They’re ready to play at noon.’’
Brief bios on each of the inductees are as follows:
Mountain Iron Class of 1952
Scinto played for the Red Raiders from 10th grade through his senior year. He was a quarterback as a sophomore and junior before playing halfback in his senior season. He earned letter awards in all three of those years. Other special honors include being named second team All Conference as a sophomore and junior, and All Conference his senior year. He was named to the All District Basketball Team his senior year.
In 2002 he received the George Hanson Award from the Minnesota Association of Health and Recreation. He was named the Teacher of the Year from the Learning Disabilities Association, and Coordinator of the Year from the Minnesota Tennis Association.
After graduating from high school, Scinto attended St. Cloud State University for a year and then transferred to Virginia College, where he played quarterback for two years. Scinto finished his education at the University of Minnesota Duluth, graduating with a double major in elementary and physical education.
Scinto taught two years in Gilbert and was also the school’s first hockey coach. He later worked and coached in Bloomington, worked many years on projects for the State Department, and was the founder of the Minnesota Adapted Education group and the Minnesota Athletes Association. He also volunteered for the International Special Olympics.
Scinto describes his most memorable football moment being when his Red Raiders won the conference championship in 1951 his senior year. The team defeated Gilbert 52-13 after losing to them the year before.
Mountain Iron Class of 1962
Zupetz played football for the Red Raiders from ninth through 12th grade. He earned letter awards in all four of those years. Other special honors include being named All Arrowhead Conference his senior seasion.
Zupetz was an assistant football coach for Biwabik High School from 1967-1978. He served as the head football coach at Mesabi East from 1993-1995. After graduating from high school, he went on to play two years at Virginia Community College.
He later graduated witgh a bachelor of science degree from Bemidji State University and went on to attend the University of Wisconsin Superior, where he obtained specialist and master’s degrees in administration. He taught in the Biwabik school system for 15 years. After teaching, he went on to be the principal for that district for a period of 20 years. He also set up and developed the Area Learning Center in Virginia.
Zupetz said all football moments were memorable. That would include high school, college and coaching. It seemed that something was always happening both on and off the field, sometimes positive, sometimes negative. “You have to do it, have to enjoy it, and have to remember it,’’ he stated.
Mountain Iron Class of 1966
Belpedio played football for the Red Raiders in 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grades, earning letters in all four of those years. Other special honors include being named All Conference in the fall of 1965, his senior year.
After graduating from high school, Belpedio attended Mesabi State Junior College for two years, where he played football for the Norsemen for both years. He went on to the University of Minnesota Duluth for two additional years, graduating in 1970.
e began working in the insurance industry after moving to the Twin Cities, where he has lived for the last 46 years.
Belpedio identifies his most memorable football moment as being his senior year in high school when the Red Raiders were playing the Buhl Bulldogs in the conference championship game. Both teams were undefeated up until that time. The Red Raiders were soundly beat by a very good Bulldog team.
MI-B Class of 1999
Buffetta played football from ninth grade through his senior season. He earned letter awards in all three of those years. He was named All Conference as a sophomore, a junior and a senior, which were just some of his special honors. He was also the football team captain his junior and senior seasons. In addition, he was a letter winner in track and hockey in 10th, 11th and 12th grades. He was named to the first team All Iron Range Conference in hockey his junior and senior year and was named honorable mention on the All State Hockey Team his senior year.
Buffetta went on to attend Hibbing Community College, where he completed the two-year HVAC program. He coached hockey in Virginia for three years, worked at Lenci Enterprises for three years, drove production truck for US Steel for 10 years and later took a job as a driller.
Buffetta’s most memorable football moment came in his senior season when the Rangers defeated Duluth Marshall, 22-14 at home to break a 32-game losing streak for the program.
MI-B Class of 2007
Overbye played for the Rangers as a freshman, sophomore, junior and senior. He earned letter awards in all four years. He was named All Conference his senior year. Other special honors include being a team captain his senior season. He was also named defensive lineman of the year for the Northwood Conference his senior year of high school.
After high school, Overbye went to Mesabi Community College, where he received a degree in industrial maintenance technology. He soon retained employment at US Steel Minntac and is still employed there.
Overbye lives in Mountain Iron and is actively involved in coaching his daughter’s T-Ball team and really enjoys doing it.
Regarding his most memorable football memory, Overbye simply states, “Every time his Rangers beat Cherry, and we did it plenty.’’
MI-B Class of 2007
Cerkvenik was a four-year letter winner for the Rangers when he played in grades nine through 12. He was named All Conference his senior year. He was a competitor that rarely let injuries get in the way of playing football, which was his favorite sport. Early in the state quarterfinal game his senior year, he broke his hand in two places, but continued to play in the entire game and catching a number of passes from his tight end position.
After graduation, Cerkvenik attended Dakota County Technical College and obtained an electrical line worker degree. He worked for Aevenia in Montana for two years before moving back to Ely. Cerkvenik now lives in Eveleth and workes for the Mountain Iron electrical department.
Matt’s most memorable football moment came his senior season when he and some other teammates decided it would be funny to take Coach “K’s’’ precious lawn gnome from his front yard and hold it ransom throughout the entire football season. They took the gnome to the site of each opponent’s school the week prior to that game, took Polaroid photos and mailed them to the coach, making him think it was the team’s most fierce rival Cherry. In the Section 7 championship game that year, the gnome appeared on top of the scoreboard when Matt’s Rangers soundly defeated Littlefork, to qualify for the State Tournament. “Three cheers for the red and gold, gnome to the Dome,’’ the team chanted!