By RON DEUTER
IRON MOUNTAIN - An Iron Mountain win against Norway in the regular season finale Friday night at Ronberg Field does not guarantee the Mountaineers a spot in the MHSAA football playoffs. But a loss would eliminate the Mountaineers from the postseason conversation.
"In order to have a chance to make the playoffs, we have to win Friday night," Mountaineers coach Robin Marttila said, his team sitting at 4-4 (3-2 MPC) entering the final week of the season. "Our kids know that. Norway's kids know that. So we're just going to try to take care of what we can control, and that's hoping we get to 5-4."
Norway already knows it won't be playing beyond this week, but the chance to knock out a rival and double their win total from a season ago should provide more than enough motivation.
"You always want to win, that's for sure," Knights coach Bob Madigan said. "It would be nice to knock off Iron Mountain. We haven't beat them in a while.
"Our kids have been working hard. The season has had its ups and downs. This is the last game for our seniors, beating Iron Mountain would be great way to end a career."
"The Iron Mountain Norway rivalry is a good one," Marttila said. "Norway wants to beat us on the football field just like we want to beat them on the football field. Does the situation provide extra motivation? It's a football game they want to win and we want to win. It should be a good one."
Norway (3-5, 1-4 MPC) has had to deal with the injury bug this season.
"They've had to deal with a couple good football players out at different times this season," Marttila said.
For the Mountaineers, stopping the Knights begins with slowing John Grayvold, Jr.
"He's a real good receiver," Marttila said. "You don't get All-U.P. by accident. He can catch the ball pretty well, and he's a good athlete."
Marttila says the Knights also feature playmakers in the backfield. Quarterback Isaac Bray is second in the Mid-Peninsula Conference with 821 yards passing with nine scores.
"Bray has real strong arm," Marttila said. "The Knights have ability to make plays in the passing game.
"And they've got two juniors in the backfield who played as sophomores. From a skillset standpoint, they've got some people who can make plays."
Norway will, no doubt, be looking to slow Paul Brooks, who ranks third in the league with 802 yards and 10 trips to the endzone.
"We're planning on coming to play," Madigan said. "We're going to do the best we can, try some different schemes. We want to finish on a positive note, and I'd be happy with 4-5."
The Mountaineers come in healthy with all hands on deck for the finale which kicks off at 6:30 p.m.
NOTES: Iron Mountain has won 10 straight against the Knights ... The Mountaineers last missed the postseason in 1998 ... Norway's 25 points in last week's win over Gwinn was a season high ... the win snapped a four-game losing streak.