NEGAUNEE - When it comes to his team's layoff last week, Marquette Senior High School head football coach Dave L'Huillier is of two minds about the benefit/disadvantage of the inactivity.
"We were on a roll (before the layoff), beating Gladstone and Kingsford," he said in previewing Friday's non-conference matchup at 7 p.m. at Negaunee.
"But we also had a few guys banged up. The layoff let some guys heal up a little."
Marquette Senior High School’s Shane Duquette (1) goes to tackle Negaunee’s Tyler LaJoie during the 2012 Diamond Jubilee game at MSHS. The Redmen won 34-26. (Journal file photo by Zach?Jay)
The Redmen, who hold a 5-1 record and have clinched a postseason playoff berth, will be seeking their fourth straight Mining Journal Diamond Jubilee Trophy against the Miners (6-1).
"I've mentioned it to the guys," L'Huillier said. "It's a huge rivalry game and another piece of the puzzle in terms of playoff points and seeding."
To beat Negaunee, coming off a 28-24 loss to Ishpeming, L'Huillier said his Redmen will have to contain the Miners' explosive offense.
"They cause a lot of matchup problems," he said. "(Tyler) LaJoie is one of the top running backs in the Upper Peninsula and their quarterback (Ryan Syrjala) played an exceptional game at Ishpeming.
"They also have a 6-foot-5 receiver (in Zane Radloff) and an athletic (Tyler) Jandron. They have speed and jumping ability, and put a lot of pressure on your cornerbacks."
LaJoie has rushed for 803 yards (11.5 average) and scored 13 touchdowns; Syrjala is 22-of-39 passing for 528 yards and five TDs; Radloff has caught 13 passes for 301 yards and a score; and Jandron has hauled in seven aerials for 98 yards and three TDs.
"We have to control the ball and keep those weapons on the sidelines," L'Huillier said. "Our defense is getting better every week, too."
The coach mentioned inside linebackers Gabe Apple and Patrick Dowling, outside linebackers Shane Duquette and Trevor Koski, and cornerbacks David Bashaw and Connor Brazeau as leading the MSHS defense of late.
The Redmen boast some top offensive players, as well. Tailback Brett Beauchamp ran for 251 yards against Gladstone; fullback Paul Smith scored four TDs in a 24-0 win over Kingsford: and QB Brett Place went 10-of-18 passing for 188 yards and two scores vs. the Flivvers.
Kurt Burmeister caught six passes for 104 yards in that game, while Duquette hauled in TD passes of 30 and 38 yards.
"We've gotten contributions from a lot of people on offense," L'Huillier said.
NHS head coach Paul Jacobson is well aware of Marquette's diversity on offense.
"They have a lot of athletes, not just Place," he said Wednesday. "They can not only run the ball behind a big, physical line, but they can also throw the ball, too."
Jacobson added his defenders will be tested by the Redmen.
"We have some good matchups. Our defensive backs - Radloff, LaJoie, Jandron and (Kevin) O'Keefe - will be called upon for double duty Friday to stop the pass, but also give run support," he said.
Both he and L'Huillier expect the game to be a battle.
"It'll be a very good game for both teams," Luillier said. "I expect a close and well-played game."
Added Jacobson: "These games have a playoff atmosphere at this time of the season."