By BURT ANGELI
KINGSFORD - Kingsford plays for sole possession of the Great Northern Conference football title on Friday.
"This is where you want to be," said Coach Chris Hofer, whose Flivvers outscored Gladstone 49-28 last week to clinch a share of the league championship.
Kingsford (7-1 overall, 3-0 GNC) travels to Escanaba (4-4, 2-1), with the kick-off at 6:30 p.m. The Eskymos and Menominee (3-1 GNC), which visits Petoskey (5-3) this week, remain in contention for GNC honors.
"Escanaba is playing pretty darn good right now," Hofer said. "Of all the U.P teams, they've probably improved the most when you look at what they've done recently.
"They're getting better and definitely something to be concerned about."
The Eskymos made their GNC mark with a win over Marquette. They also knocked off Gladstone and bowed to Menominee. Iron Mountain was another signature win for Escanaba.
But the Eskymos did struggle with Cedar Grove (Wis) and Menominee, both teams that Kingsford defeated. Escanaba has yielded more than 40 points to four foes.
"They (Esky) have given up points," Hofer said. "We definitely have to take advantage of our scoring opportunities. But we have to do what we can to stop their big plays."
Quarterback Dave Falish, who burned Iron Mountain for 189 yards rushing of what a linebacker is supposed to do. They read the pass well. They read the run well. They stay in good position."
Florence, despite 14 seniors on the roster, opened the season with four losses in its first five games.
"I was disappointed in the way we started off," Robinson said. "We had trouble keeping kids heads in the game and playing good football."
Florence did rebound somewhat in a 50-32 loss to Laona-Wabeno on Sept. 21, trailing 30-6 in the first quarter and closing to within a score in the second half.
Cole Dollar's rushing powered Florence in wins over Menominee Indian and White Lake-Elcho.
"What it came down to we made a lot of mistakes in the games we did lose," Robinson said. "We cleaned it up in the games we did win. But the problem is we weren't consistent enough."
Florence-Hilbert winner meets Loyal (7-1) or Greenwood-Granton (5-3) in a Level 2 game next week.
NOTES: Iron Mountain's Mike Moreau has retired from the Hilbert school system but does substitute teach there. Moreau, who guided the Wolves to great success, assists the Kaukauna High School football program ... The Bobcats are making a 25th playoff appearance including five straight ... Crandon's Hayden Krueger, who rushed for 382 yards against Menominee Indian, enters the postseason with a state-high 2,006 for the year. "He had a good game against us and racked up some yards," Florence's Robinson said of Krueger. "He's not real flashy but just runs straight, a north and south runner." Crandon (7-1) blanked Florence 33-0.
From the WIAA: State tourney is comprised of 224 teams in seven divisions ... This year's field features 42 conference champions undefeated in league play, and it's the first time programs with a sub-.500 record in conference play qualify for the playoffs ... De Soto and Milwaukee Bradley Tech, coached by Kingsford's Craig Bevilacqua, have qualified for the most number of playoffs with 28.