KINGSFORD - Menominee may have a new football coach for the first time in more than 40 years but Kingsford Coach Chris Hofer can't see a big difference from past teams.
"They look just like the old Menominee," Hofer said Wednesday. "They're not doing much different that what they've done in the past."
In the past, Ken Hofer, Chris' dad, patrolled the sidelines. Joe Noha will now lead Menominee (4-0, 1-0) into Kingsford (3-1, 0-0) for the Great Northern Conference tussle. Kick-off is 6:30 p.m. from Flivver Field.
"I told the kids if you're not going to play physical football, don't get on the bus," Noha said. "I liken it to an Ali-Frazier fight. You judge yourself by your opponents. This is a big game for both schools."
Early indications reveal this game should decide the Great Northern Conference title. Menominee routed Gladstone 47-6 last week while Escanaba downed Marquette. Cedar Grove, Wis., which bowed to Kingsford, handled Escanaba.
"It's a big game but it always is," Hofer said. "They're a good football team. They're 4-0 for a reason."
Hofer describes the Maroons as "really quick with good overall team speed."
Defensive coordinator Satch Englund joined Ken Hofer in retirement. Chris Hofer has detected a change in the Maroons' defense.
"Menominee, historically, has been a consistent 5-3 team," said Hofer, noting Menominee shows a 5-2 these days. "They're just going to line up on defense different."
Flivver back Reed Larson will be the focus of Menominee's defense. The senior has gained 577 yards on 68 carries (8.4 ave.) and scored nine touchdowns.
"It all starts with Larson on the inside part of their game," Noha said. "We got to practice against that last week against (Jared) Vuksan (Gladstone).
"The difference is Larson is faster and more elusive. We have to get to him early and wrap him up."
Menominee held Gladstone to 31 first-half rushing.
"They have a history of executing quite well," Noha said. "We have to be ready to adjust to their different sets and formations."
Tailback Sam Schewe leads Menominee's single-wing offense, averaging more than 38 points per game. Schewe has connected on 36 of 53 passes for 369 yards and has rushed for more than 300 yards. Junior fullback James Brown (6-0, 190) is another ground threat with 115 yards against Harbor Beach and 128 against Gladstone.
"Our passing game has to stay sharp but we have to run the ball well," Noha said. "We have to."
Unbeaten La Crosse Central, with QB Dan Callahan running the option superbly, downed the Flivvers 36-14.
"It was a winnable game," said Hofer, his Flivvers down 13-7 at half before the Raiders rolled 23-7 in the second. "They were good. We made them look good in a lot of areas by giving them stuff easily.
"They ran hard and they were fast. You give them an inch and they took it. I thought we could have done things a little better."
Brett Michaud tallied a team-high eight tackles and Sean Ryan had seven. Michaud and Ryan each posted 12 defensive points and Aidan Wienke had seven.
The coaching staff named tackle Hilding Beaudoin as blocker of the week.
The Hofer vs. Hofer series, which started in 1987, ended up with Chris ahead 21-12 (6-2 postseason). Chris and Ken never did get wrapped in the "neat novelty for everybody to talk about."
"When it comes to the actual game it didn't faze either one of us," Chris said. "The old father-son thing was kind of neat when you're sitting at home in the summer. During the actual year it never even crossed your mind.
"You're trying to get your team ready to play. There's always so many other things on your mind."
The postgame handshake was always interesting.
"At the end of the game, it was always a little different especially the last couple years when you never knew if it was going to be the last one," Chris said.