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Gwinn’s ride ends on the football field: Iron Mountain overwhelms Modeltowners with prolific offense, 56-8

Iron Mountain’s Bryce Petrantonio, left, finds daylight to run as he is pursued by Gwinn’s Carl Peterson during their MHSAA Division 8 high school football playoff game at the Mountaineers’ stadium on Friday night. (Iron Mountain Daily News photo by Theresa Proudfit)

IRON MOUNTAIN — In their first game in six weeks and only second of the entire fall, Iron Mountain cruised past Gwinn 56-8 in an MHSAA Division 8 football playoff matchup Friday night at Mountaineer Stadium.

That was because of a string of forfeits, including one going against the Mountaineers, that included the previous week’s win to open the playoffs against Rogers City.

In what was the Modeltowners’ first second-round playoff game in 21 years, the Mountaineers scored on the third play of their second possession. Senior Caleb Burklund ran for a 48-yard touchdown, and with the extra-point kick, IM led 7-0.

After Gwinn turned the ball over on downs, Burklund found the end zone once on a run again, this time from 13 yards out.

“We played well tonight in all areas,” Mountaineers head coach Robin Marttila said. “We’re happy to get a home playoff win.”

Friday’s contest was basically a Week 1 game all over again and it showed.

“Our offense got off to a bit of a slow start, but we shook it off and went from there,” Marttila said.

Early in the second quarter, the Mountaineers extended their lead to 21-0 on a halfback option pass from Caleb Evosevich-Hynes to Bryce Pietrantonio for a 46-yard TD. Pietrantonio added a successful 2-point conversion run.

The Mountaineers’ next possession, after a Gwinn punt, saw Burklund race for 37 more yards, setting up an Eli Lofhom 21-yard scoring pass to Joey Dumais to extend Iron Mountain’s lead to 28-0 at halftime.

On Iron Mountain’s first play from scrimmage in the second half, junior running back Gabe Richtig exploded down the home sideline for 59-yard TD. That score put the contest into a running-clock mode.

“Gabe Richtig ran the ball well,” Marttila said.

Richtig, who rushed for 118 yards to lead the Mountaineers, added a second touchdown run less than four minuets later, this time from 38 yards out.

“Kudos to our defensive secondary, they played a great game, especially considering how much Gwinn passed the ball tonight. We didn’t give away any big plays,” Marttila said. “Our offensive and defensive lines did a great job tonight as well.”

Pietrantonio picked off a Mastin Love pass late in the third quarter and returned it 68 yards for a touchdown.

Burklund, who rushed for 111 yards, added an extra element to the Mountaineers’ already explosive offense by gaining yardage running between the tackles.

“We knew Gwinn was going to take away the edge tonight, keeping Evo (Evosevich-Hynes) in check. Caleb Burklund, when he gets a full head of steam, good luck tackling him,” Marttila said.

Gwinn, which kept playing hard throughout, notched a late touchdown on a Carl Peterson 39-yard run.

The Modeltowners defeated East Jordan the previous Friday night for the school’s first playoff win since defeating Whittemore-Prescott in a Division 6 regional final in 1999.

“We came out in a spread offense to try to throw something at them, that they have never seen from us before, in hopes to catch them off-guard,” Gwinn first-year head coach Ben Olsen said. “We knew how good they could be, and hoped to stay with them. But they ran up and down the field on us.”

Olsen noted that the 200-plus combined yards from Burklund and Richtig were frustrating because his team’s game plan was to take away Evosevich-Hynes.

“They have so many playmakers, take one away, and another one steps up,” he said.

The Modeltowners finish 4-4. Olsen, an Iron Mountain native, took the helm after the unexpected death of former head coach Dion Brown in late January.

“Our seniors, who we’ll miss tremendously, pushed our younger guys, and showed them what they needed to do to become good football players,” Olsen said. “Hopefully with our success this year, having won a playoff game, we keep things in our program moving forward.”

Iron Mountain, which improved to 7-1 despite having played only two contested games, hosts Bark River-Harris on a date and time to be determined.

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