By RON DEUTER
IRON MOUNTAIN - A nip in the air. Changing colors. The first frost.
Rand Hruska Photo
North Dickinson’s Dominic Christian sprints for a touchdown during last week’s 40-0 win over Bark River-Harris.
There are some things you can just take for granted during early autumn in this part of the U.P.
Add undefeated starts to the prep football season for Forest Park and North Dickinson as another.
For the third time in the past five seasons, the two teams will meet trying to pin the other with its first loss of the year.
The rivals, both 5-0, square off at North Dickinson's James D. Priestap Memorial Field Friday at 6:30 p.m.
Forest Park owns eight straight wins in this series (including playoffs), but three of the last five meetings have been decided by a score or less.
"Whoever plays the best defense will win the game" Nordics coach Joe Reddinger said. "We just haven't been able to stop them when we needed to most, the last couple times."
While Forest Park owns the win streak, the edge in experience this time around belongs to the Nordics.
"The guys they have, they are a very athletic group," Forest Park coach Bill Santilli said. "They flow a lot better and their defense looks to be much improved from the past couple of years.
"Their experience shows. They are always well-coached and well-disciplined, but this year they really look solid in all aspects. As I evaluate this team, they just look pretty solid."
The Trojans coaching staff, meanwhile, has been working hard to bring its less-experienced squad up to speed.
"I'd like to say we're ready but you never know until you play the game," Santilli said. "We've been throwing a lot of things at our guys that North Dickinson does really well, and with younger guys this year, there's been some challenges, some challenges with assignment football."
Forest Park might be a little younger, but Reddinger doesn't see anything different out of the team from Crystal.
"They look as good as they've ever been," he said. "Their QB is functional. He can run, throws a good ball. They've got a huge fullback. They look to be just another normal Crystal Falls team."
Quarterback Jeff Johnson threw for 79 yards and a touchdown in Forest Park's 49-14 win over North Central last week. Raymond Tomasik ran for 95 yards.
Santilli said his team is extremely pleased to be 5-0. "Maybe a little surprised too," he added. "This will be a good chance for us to see where we are at. We have a good defensive plan. Coach Graff always does an excellent job with that. It's going to be about execution. Hopefully we can bring our "A" game and not break down."
The Trojans' toughest test thus far on the season was Hurley a few week ago, a game that the Trojans pulled out 13-12.
"We were challenged with Hurley, a similar type of team, and a very good football team," Santilli said. "We were just so lucky, and we were very happy to get that win. I think it helped our guys in gaining some confidence."
North Dickinson, with featured back Dominic Christian approaching 700 yards on the ground, have outscored opponents 226-48 so far this fall. A 55-30 win at Stephenson was the closest contest.
Last week, the Nordics downed Bark River-Harris 40-0 with Christian running for three touchdowns.. He now has 11 for the season.
"We need to block better and tackle better," Reddinger said of facing the Trojans this time around. "If we can't do that, we'll be in trouble. Our guys are amped up, but whether that translates on the field remains to be seen."
"It should be a fun game," Santilli said. "It's one of those type of games you always remember."