MARQUETTE - Midway through the second quarter of the high school football game between the Marquette Redmen and Menominee Maroons on Friday, host Marquette was holding its own against the No. 1 team in both the state's AP Division 5 poll and the Upper Peninsula poll.
Trailing just 14-7, the Redmen had successfully found their passing attack with quarterback Brett Place going 6-of-8 for 129 yards, including a pass to 6-foot-3-inch receiver Kurt Burmeister, which the receiver hauled in over his shoulder for a 79-yard touchdown.
"He was on fire," Marquette head coach David L'Huillier said of his signal caller. "He was good."
Marquette Senior High School's Kurt Burmeister (5) holds the ball as he recovers a fumble against Menominee during their Great Northern Conference game Friday in Marquette. (Journal photo by Jenna Thompson)
Then the top-ranked Maroons made some adjustments, brought a bit more pressure on Place, opened their own passing game and never let off the gas, winning 58-7.
"All of a sudden, we fumble the ball, give them a short field and they score," L'Huillier said of the turning point. "Next series we throw a pick, there's another short series and they score.
"Against good teams like that, you've almost got to play flawless," he added. "You can't turn the ball over, you can't make mistakes."
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Place finished 6 of 14 passing for 129 yards, two interceptions and a touchdown, to lead the Redmen (5-3). He left the game in the second quarter after taking the brunt of the Maroons' defensive pressure.
"Every time we threw the ball, he was getting hit by somebody," L'Huillier said. "That's why we sat him down in the middle of the second quarter.
"He was still taking shots and he's still trying to recover from last week."
Said Menominee head coach Joe Noha: "They did a nice job passing with Burmeister and (Shane) Duquette and running the ball a little bit.
"But I think, once we got acclimated to what they were going to do, we kind of settled them in a little bit. "We rode out that little wave that they had and our kids did a good job of adjusting."
The Maroons scored 51-straight points after Place's touchdown pass tied the game at 7-7.
The win leaves the Maroons (9-0) with an unblemished season, which according to Noha was only one of the team's goals at the beginning of the year.
"We set three goals: to be undefeated, to win the conference, and to be team of the year," he said. "And we've been able to accomplish those three goals. I'm really proud of the kids, the team, and the coaching staff, and everyone involved."
The Maroons' primary passer, Justin Brilinski, led the way in his final regular season game, scoring on three passing touchdowns and one 76-yard run.
"It was a great honor to see somebody go 9-0," Brilinski said of the season. "Only the third team in 120 years to do that.
Now both teams wait to see who they will face in the Michigan High School Athletic Association playoffs, as both are eligible.
"We'll get together on Sunday night and see where we get a chance to go," L'Huillier said.
"But the score tonight doesn't affect the effort our kids gave. We played really hard, we just ran into a good team."