NEGAUNEE - He may have preferred meeting Boyne City on his home field Friday, but Negaunee High School head football coach Paul Jacobson doesn't mind his team playing in Marquette's Superior Dome, either.
"It takes a sloppy playing field out of the equation," Jacobson said in previewing the Miners' Division 6 district title game against the Ramblers at 7 p.m. Friday. "Right now (Wednesday), our field is wet with snow cover.
"But the biggest thing, (the Dome) is a great venue to watch a game. We know it'll be 68 degrees inside and no wind."
Negaunee linebackers Austin Caya, left, and Ian Mayotte tackle an Indian River Inland Lakes ballcarrier in an?MHSAA Division 6 pre-district game on Saturday at Miners Field in Negaunee. Due to field conditions, the Miners will host Boyne City in the Division 6 district final at 7 p.m. on Friday at the Superior Dome in Marquette. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
NHS last played in the Dome two years ago, with the Miners beating Roscommon 42-17 during the regular season.
"Our senior group (now) played in that game," Jacobson said.
Negaunee will carry a 9-1 record into Friday's contest, while Boyne City - located about 230 miles south - is 8-2.
"They're young, but very athletic," Jacobson said. "On offense, they like to use some different side-to-side formations.
"Defensively, they're real similar (to us) with their 4-2 and cover-3."
Sophomore running back Malik Smith scored on runs of six, five and 57 yards in last weekend's 27-6 Boyne City win over Elk Rapids in pre-district play.
Jordan Wilmot, playing in place of injured Ramblers quarterback Corey Redman, added a 12-yard TD run for head coach Dave Hills' Ramblers.
"It's a little different with the new kid," Jacobson said. "He appears to like to play more under center and run the ball. He'll hurt you with his feet."
According to the Petoskey News Review, senior defensive tackle Zach Wandrie recorded six tackles, 3 1/2 sacks and a fumble recovery last week.
The Miners, meanwhile, blanked Indian River Inland Lakes 51-0 to reach the district final. Senior quarterback Ryan Syrjala threw three touchdown passes and scored on a sneak, while senior tailback Tyler LaJoie added two TDs - one on a 70-yard interception return.
Upper Peninsula All-Class players LaJoie and senior offensive tackle Jeremy Bell will lead the Miners Friday. All-U.P. Large School senior offensive guard Tyler Thomas, as well as senior defensive lineman Trevor Hanson, will also play key roles.
Jacobson said early NHS practices this week have been productive.
"They're all been good since beginning our playoff run," he said. "We have a good group of leaders and that's what it takes.
"They come in with their lunch pails and check in ready to go."
He added the Miners' keys to a win against Boyne city are simple:
"In any big game, it'll take us executing on both sides of the ball," Jacobson said. "We have to minimize Boyne City's opportunities and maximize ours."