A playoff quintet: 5 area teams continue into high school football postseason this weekend

Negaunee's Nico Lukkarinen, center left, finds room to run up the middle as Calumet defender Kip Kangas, right, looks to take him down in the second quarter of their high school football game played in Negaunee on Sept. 2. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

More info: 11-player teams must win 5 consecutive games to win

a state title, while 8-player squads need 4 straight victories for their championships


MARQUETTE — The five area teams left standing in this week’s final Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association polls are also the five teams that will continue playing in the MHSAA playoffs this weekend.

Three of those squads get to play at home this week, with a possibility of all five getting to play on their own fields the following week.

Those schools are, in 11-player, Marquette in Division 3, Negaunee in Division 6 and Westwood in Division 7. In 8-player, both Munising and Newberry are playing in that sport’s Division 1.

Iron Mountain's Luke Wolfe, left, tries to evade Westwood defender Marcus Boase after catching a pass in the first half on Sept. 2 in a West PAC Copper Division game at Mountaineer Stadium. (Iron Mountain Daily News photo by Theresa Proudfit)

Marquette and Westwood are holding the mantle for the entire Upper Peninsula in their respective divisions.

For those two, that means every playoff game will be against a Lower Peninsula team, probably making home-field advantage even more of an advantage in their cases.

Marquette (7-2) opens at undefeated Mount Pleasant (9-0) at 6 p.m. Friday. The Oilers not only have a perfect record, but are ranked No. 3 in the state in D-3.

That shouldn’t really faze the Redmen, who traveled to play this same team last year in the D-3 second round and won 21-14, six years after having lost in the Superior Dome to Mount Pleasant 40-14.

Westwood (8-1) faces a school it hasn’t played before, East Jordan (7-2), which will be coming from the same county as Charlevoix and Boyne City in the northern Lower Peninsula. Game time is 1 p.m. Saturday.

Negaunee's Philip Nelson, left, crosses the goal line for a touchdown in the first quarter after catching a pass from Miners' quarterback Gerald Johnson and shaking off Calumet defender Hans Kiilunen for the first score of their high school football game played in Negaunee on Sept. 2. Nelson also got a key block from teammate Eli VanBuren on the Copper Kings' Paul Sturos on the play. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

The Red Devils played one U.P. school, St. Ignace, near midseason and won 8-0 as a league game in the Legacy Division of the Northern Michigan Football Conference.

East Jordan won that league with a 5-0 record, much like the Patriots shared the Copper Division title with Calumet in the West PAC with a 5-1 mark.

Over in Negaunee, the Miners are the only one of the five area playoff teams coming off a loss, 32-14 at Westwood on Friday.

But the Miners still managed to snag a home game, and in fact, are the No. 1 team in their district as they host Gladstone (4-5), the only U.P. team that got into the playoffs with a losing record. That’s a 7 p.m. Friday game.

Negaunee held off the Braves 31-30, also at home, on Oct. 8 after Phil Nelson kicked the extra point on a fourth-quarter touchdown scored by teammate Nico Lukkarinen.

This will be their fourth meeting over the past two seasons. In 2020, Gladstone downed Negaunee 22-20 in the regular season before the Miners got revenge with a 28-14 win in the opening round of the D-6 playoffs.

The Miners were the only area team last year to get through three rounds of the playoffs and continue playing after the postseason was halted in mid-November before it resumed in early January.

In 8-player, the area’s two representatives are on a collision course to meet in the second round if both make it through this weekend.

Munising (7-2) hosts Rudyard (7-2) at 7 p.m. Friday after the Mustangs won their regular-season matchup 28-16 on Oct. 1. That was a game in the Great Lakes Conference East Division, which Munising won with a 6-1 record.

Newberry (7-2) plays at Pickford (7-2) at 7 p.m. Friday, the Pirates gaining home field by one-third, 0.333, of a point based on the playoff points whose calculations are shown on the MHSAA website, www.mhsaa.com.

The Indians and Pickford also met in the regular season on Oct. 8 with the Pirates winning 34-28.

These teams also met last year in the second round of the playoffs with Pickford prevailing 63-7.

If Munising and Newberry both win Friday, they’ll meet in Munising the following weekend.

As a No. 3 seed among the four teams in their region, Newberry still could play at home in Week 2 if it and No. 4 Rudyard win this weekend.

Marquette is in a similar position in its 11-player district as the No. 3 seed. The Redmen would host in Week 2 if Ionia (5-4) wins at DeWitt (8-1) in the other game in their district.

That’s what happened back in 2010, when MSHS opened on the road and won at Bay City John Glenn before returning home to play Cadillac in the second round.

Negaunee, Westwood and Munising are all No. 1 seeds in their districts or regions, meaning a second-round home game is guaranteed as long as they win this weekend.

Depending on the opposition, all of these area teams have both home and road possibilities in the third round.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.


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