By RON DEUTER
IRON MOUNTAIN - Iron Mountain saw a four-year winning streak over the Kingsford Flivvers come to an end in last year's annual rivalry game. The Mountaineers would like to start a new one this Saturday.
Theresa Proudfit/The Daily News Photo
Iron Mountain’s Craig Qualley led the Mountaineers to a season-high in points last week.
"We have to minimize our mistakes, make some plays, and we have to play hard," Mountaineers coach Robin Marttila said. "We're playing a pretty good football team. They're going to be hungry, and we're going to be hungry."
Iron Mountain enters at 3-3. With three games left, the math is simple for reaching the automatic playoff berth plateau of six victories. But Marttila said it's not something his team is thinking about right now.
"It's an Iron Mountain-Kingsford game that we want to win," Marttila said. "The goal for us is to get to 4-3, and that's all we can achieve this week. Kingsford's goal is to get to 5-2 and that's all they can achieve. Maybe I'm old school on that, but we focus on this game, and that's it. We don't have enough time, energy or daylight to focus on anything else."
Iron Mountain, after starting the season 1-3, has put together two straight wins. Kingsford, meanwhile, has dropped two in a row after a splendid 4-0 start.
"They played two really good football teams," Marttila said. "Menominee might be the best team in the U.P., and Marquette is 5-1. They got beat by two good football teams. Yeah, they probably would have liked to play better in those games, but two straight losses means nothing.
"They don't care about last week, and we don't care about last week. We care about Saturday afternoon in front of the whole county. And we're going to go out there and try to play our football game and hope for good things."
Marttila said Kingsford's athleticism is something the Mountaineers will have to contend with Saturday at Flivver Field.
"Brody Sundquist jumps out at you," he said. "He's a real good football player with real good speed, and you have to look at Cole Tengesdahl. He was all-conference last year. I've watched him on the track for the past couple of years now. He's got good speed and the ability to make plays on both sides of the ball."
Mountaineer quarterback Craig Qualley, a transfer from Kingsford, wasn't in the coaches room helping the staff game plan for Saturday when Marttila conducted this interview.
"That was yesterday," Marttila joked. "Actually, he's just trying to do the best job he can, just like everyone else."
Motivation for this annual contest goes without saying, no matter the records of either team.
"This is a game they will remember all their lives," Marttila said. "It's a privilege to play and coach in this game. Any time you have a community that supports their football like they do here, it's a great thing to be a part of."
While Kingsford enters this game losers of two straight, the Mountaineers have posted season highs in scoring in each of their past two games. First it was a 28-14 win over Westwood, and then last week the Mountaineers upended Manistique 41-12. The 41 points marked Iron Mountain's highest total since a 45-21 win over Gwinn during Week 2 of last season.
"We're going to put 11 on the field, and they're going to put 11 on the field," Marttila said. "Both teams know each other real well. We'll go out there, play hard and see what happens."