NEGAUNEE - They beat Iron Mountain 28-6 on the road Sept. 14, but now the Negaunee High School football Miners will host the Mountaineers at 7 p.m. on Friday in MHSAA Division 6 pre-district playoff action.
"That's a huge factor," veteran NHS head coach Paul Jacobson said of being home. "In front of our home crowd, that's a great environment in which to play."
He added he enjoys playing I.M. (5-4) and the Mountaineers are "solid in what they do."
Offensively, I.M. features running backs Paul Brooks (183 rushes for 955 yards and 11 touchdowns) and Taylor Huotari (80 for 489, three TDs).
"Brooks is a good running back and Huotari complements him," Jacobson said. "Brooks is also a good linebacker and Huotari a good free safety."
The Miners will counter offensively with quarterback Tanner Uren, wide receiver Brock Weaver and Dustin Goupille, among others. Uren passed for 676 yards and 11 TDs Weaver caught 18 passes for 214 yards and six scores; and Goupille gained 626 yards rushing to go with 10 TDs.
Alex Dempsey on the line and Adam Francis at inside linebacker anchor a Negaunee defense that allowed only 222 yards and an average of 14.1 points a game.
"The biggest thing (in the game) is to control the ball and win the takeover margin," Jacobson said. "We have to execute when we have the ball.
"We're happy to be in the playoffs and the kids are focused. I attribute that to our senior leadership."
Ishpeming hosting Lincoln Alcona
After watching tape of Lincoln Alcona, longtime Ishpeming High School head football coach Jeff Olson noticed something right away:
"They run a full house 'T' offense, which is totally different than what we've seen (this season)," he said. "They also run a '30' defense.
"It's nice, in some ways, to see something different. But we have to be ready."
The Hematites (8-1) will entertain the Tigers (6-2) at 7 p.m. on Friday at the Ishpeming Playgrounds in MHSAA Division 7 pre-district playoff competition.
Lincoln Alcona has won its last three games. The Tigers average 31.5 points on offense while giving up 14.6 with the help of four shutouts.
"They have good size and a good fullback (Nathan Fettes), who's a power runner with good speed," Olson said.
The Hematites feature a similar runner in Eric Kostreva, who carried the ball 157 times for 1,153 yards (7.3 average) and 17 touchdowns during the regular season.
"Eric has been a workhorse since (quarterback Alex) Briones went out (with a broken foot)," Olson said. "We'll have to control the ball (Friday). The longer the ball is in our hands, the less time they have (on offense).
"They also look like a tough defensive team who can go after the ball."
On defense, Ishpeming will look to lineman Brad Wootke, back Hunter Wirtanen, linebacker R.J. Poirier and end Joey Lyle to control the Tigers' offense.
"The key will be our defense," Olson said, noting his team has allowed but 124 yards and 7.5 points a game this season. "We'll be going up against a high-powered misdirection offense."
Redmen travel to
Marquette Senior High School (5-3) will travel to downstate Midland to take on the Chemics (9-0) at 1 p.m. on Saturday in a game Redman head coach Dave L'Huillier said will be all about ball control.
"We have to use our running game to control the clock," he said. "We hope to shorten the game."
MSHS will rely on an offensive line featuring Great Northern Conference Lineman of the Year Joe Iwanicki at guard, and all-league first team pick Alex Sherbinow at running back.
Sherbinow rushed for 1,287 yards and 14 TDs this season.
"I hope we can run Sherbinow behind our strong offensive line and put some long drives together," said L'Huillier, whose team is making its third straight playoff appearance.
"We have to rely on our offensive line and use our running game effectively. But we also have to be able to throw the ball to keep (Midland) off balance."
The Chemics, in compiling the most Division 2 playoff points in the state at 113.778, allowed just 14.4 points a game while scoring 28.8 per contest.
L'Huillier said Midland features NCAA Division 1 recruit Steven Elmer (6-6, 315 pounds) at offensive tackle and defensive tackle/nose. Elmer has reportedly committed to Notre Dame.
"He's a legit Division 1 kid and ranked 30th in the state," L'Huillier said. "He moves real well."
The MSHS coach also said Midland quarterback Alec Johnson and halfback Travis Petten could pose problems for the Redmen.
Defensively, Marquette's Iwanicki at end, Sherbinow at linebacker and AJ Grazulis at end will be counted upon to slow or stop the Chemics' offensive.
Other Superiorland teams making playoff appearances Friday are: Division 6, Manistique (6-3) at Calumet (6-3), 7:30 p.m.; Division 7, Forest Park (7-2) at L'Anse (7-2), 7 p.m.; and in 8-player football, Superior Central (6-2) at Rapid River, 7 p.m.
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251.