By TOM KAESER
For The Daily News
MENOMINEE - The cheers at Walton Blesch Field as Menominee lifted the Division 5 district championship trophy were loud enough to make the Barber Trophy wobble in the Kingsford trophy case.
D. Roy Carollo Photo
Kingsford’s Aidan Wienke (84) picks off a third-quarter pass in front of teammate Cole Tengesdahl (10) and Menominee’s Bryan Hines (21). Wienke intercepted two passes in the Division 5 district final Saturday.
The Maroons completed their mission to avenge a 14-13 loss to the Flivvers with a stunning 48-14 victory over the Class A-B Team of the Year Saturday afternoon.
Menominee (10-1) will play host to Clare (9-2) for the regional title at 1 p.m. Saturday.
"There was a sense of urgency to get this done," coach Joe Noha said. "You could see it in their eyes in practice Monday and Tuesday."
Addition and subtraction added up to Menominee rout. The Flivvers got their first look at the slippery moves of tailback Devon Harris and the defensive destruction of Ryne Francour.
Harris rushed for 161 yards on 23 carries with two touchdowns and passed for 118 yards. Francour and Jeremy Rivard led a defensive posse that limited Kingsford freight train, Reed Larson, to a season-low 74 yards on 25 carries, with the lion's share of his yardage coming on second-effort desire.
"The game ball goes to the defense and (coaches) Dave Mathieu and Drew Buyarski," said Noha. "Ryne Francour being back made a big difference."
Harris did not play tailback in the first meeting between the two teams and Francour was sidelined with an injury.
A Kingsford defense that has been tough all season played without its leader, Defensive Player of the Year Hilding Beaudoin, who sat out the game with an arm injury.
It looked like game on when Aidan Wienke picked off a pass at the Flivver 33 late in the first half with Menominee holding a 17-7 lead.
Sean Ryan bobbed and weaved through the Maroons on a 20-yard scamper and Caleb Harrington tossed a 22-yard pass to Craig Qualley to the 3. Larson carried it in from there to cut the margin to three points with just 40.6 seconds left in the half.
Stuck in a third and 15 hole at their own 38, the Maroons dug themselves out with a 22-yard delayed draw by Harris. With 8.6 seconds left until halftime, Harris burned the Flivvers again with a 35-yard scoring dash, with James Brown sealing the outside with a huge block.
"Coach (Noha) called that play," said Harris. "It was open early in the game and it was open again at the end of the half."
Instead of Kingsford heading into the locker room with all the momentum, the Maroons charged off the field smelling blood.
"They had big plays in the first half. We had the plays covered, but they made them, plain and simple," Kingsford coach Chris Hofer said. "We fought our way back in the first half. I thought we could have played a little better."
Wienke swiped his fourth pass of the postseason at the goal line on Menominee's first possession of the second half, but the Maroon defense dug in and forced a three and out.
Harris showed his athletic skills when he rolled right and then fired across the field for a 32-yard completion to James Brown. Shaun Sullivan snared a 19-yard pass from Harris, who dodged a hard pass rush. Evan Pohlmann drilled his second field goal of the game, a 25-yarder, to push the lead to 27-14 with 3:27 left in the third quarter.
The Maroons coughed up the football late in the third quarter, setting the Flivvers up at the Menominee 29.
But Brown turned the Maroon sidelines into bedlam with a game-breaking defensive sparkler. Wienke was ready to pull in a Harrington pass at the 24 when Brown swooped in for the pick and raced down the sideline 76 yards for a touchdown.
Pohlman's PAT stretched the lead to 34-14.
Menominee hiked the lead to 41-14 lead on a 21-yard TD strike to Hines and Justin Brilinski, put a capper on the rout with a 24-yard touchdown run.
The Maroons took a 7-0 lead on their first possession when Brown shook off a tackler at the 28 en route to a 51-yard scoring romp.
Pohlmann split the uprights with a 32-yard field goal to push the margin to 10-0 late in the first quarter.
A 12-yard run by Ryan cut the lead to 10-7 early in the second. Harris scored from the 1 to give the Maroons their 17-7 lead.
(Tom Kaeser is with The EagleHerald of Marinette)
Kingsford 0 14 0 0 - 14
Menominee 10 14 3 21 - 48
M - James Brown 51 run (Evan Pohlmann kick), 8:13.
M - Pohlmann 32 field goal, 1:19.
K - Sean Ryan 12 run (Gabe Swanson kick), 10:12.
M - Harris 1 run (Pohlmann kick), 7:06.
K - Reed Larson 3 run (Swanson kick), :40.
M - Harris 35 run (Pohlmann kick), :08.
M - Pohlmann 25 field goal, 3:27.
M - Brown 76 yard interception return (Pohlmann kick), 11:07.
M - Bryan Hines 15 pass from Harris (Pohlmann kick), 8:14.
M - Justin Brilinski 24 run (Chris Kelley kick), 3:25.
RUSHING: Menominee 43 for 289 (Harris 23-161 2 Tds; Brown 10-77 2 TDs; Brilinski 3-31; Chris Briar 2-12; Hines 4-5; Devon Barley 1-3) Kingsford 40-180 (Larson 23-74 TD; Ryan 8-48 TD; Aidan Wienke 1-26; Alex Patterson 2-20; Cole Peterson 2-7; Tyler Curran 2-5)
PASSING: Menominee (Harris 5-13-118 TD, INT; Brilinski 0-1 INT) Kingsford (Caleb Harrington 5-14-50 INT)
RECEIVING: Menominee (Hines 2-44 TD; Sullivan 2-31; Brown 1-32; Michael Kinsey 1-11) Kingsford (Craig Qualley 1-22; Aidan WIenke 2-8; Cole Michaud 1-8; Cole Tengesdahl 1-12).