By RON DEUTER
IRON MOUNTAIN - Iron Mountain's final non-conference game of the season sees the Escanaba Eskymos visit Mountaineer Stadium Friday night.
Ron Deuter/The Daily News Photo
West Iron County’s Ryan Rogers unleashes a stiff arm to a Northland Pines defender during a second-quarter rush at Saturday’s homecoming football game at Nelson Field. The Wykons (7-0, 5-0 West PAC) can become the first West Iron County football team in school history to start a season 8-0 when they host Hancock Friday night.
The Mountaineers (3-4) aim to reach the .500 mark in this contest, which would give the team a chance for a 5-4 finish. Last year's Mountaineers earned a playoff berth at 5-4.
Escanaba enters at 2-5 after dismantling Gladstone 41-16 last week in a game that was scoreless after the first quarter. The Eskymos racked up 347 rushing yards in the win.
"I think their record is deceiving," Mountaineers coach Robin Marttila said. "They play a real tough schedule, that's obvious."
Escanaba is 2-1 against U.P. opponents this season, beating Marquette 35-14 in Week 4 and losing to Menominee 44-0 in Week 6. The team's other losses were to Alpena, Traverse City Central, Cheboygan, and Detroit Country Day.
"They have some good athletes," Marttila said. "Their numbers are good, and they have decent size."
Running a spread offense, quarterback Travis Heller threw for 110 yards and three touchdowns in the win last week.
"He's a pretty good football player," Marttila said. "And Cam Beversluis is a guy they want to get the ball to in the passing game."
Beversluis scored twice last week, once on a 12-yard rush and also on a 20-yard reception.
"They also ran the ball to a number of different backs against Gladstone," Marttila said. "They'll be a challenge for us."
Marttila said Escanaba's size up front will also pose a challenge.
"We're going to have to keep the ball out of their hands," he said. We have to control the clock, run and pass the ball effectively."
Unfortunately for Iron Mountain that plan didn't materialize in last week's loss at Kingsford.
"Bottom line is we just didn't play well," he said. "That was it. We are hoping for better things this week."
In other action Friday:
Hancock (3-4, 2-2) at West Iron County (7-0, 5-0), West PAC, 6:30 p.m. - West Iron County, amongst 11-man football teams, is one of just four unbeaten teams left in the U.P. as the season enters its final two weeks. Mike Berutti's Wykons have a shot this week to become the first 8-0 team in West Iron County high school history, surpassing the 1997 team that started 7-0. The Wykons can also lock up the league title in this game, regaining the crown they last held in 2011. Hancock defeated Ironwood 28-26 last week. Other wins came against Baraga (49-0) and Calumet (8-0). Northland Pines, West Iron's victim last week, grounded the Bulldogs 47-0 back in Week 3.
Bessemer-Gogebic (5-2, 2-2) at Forest Park (7-0, 3-0), Great Western, 6:30 p.m. - Bill Santilli's Trojans can secure a share of the league title with a win over Gogebic. It's the final regular-season home game for the Trojans, who are aiming for 8-0 for the first time since the 2010 season. Last week's 57 points against Baraga marked a season high for the Forest Park offense, which has averaged 42.7 per contest. Gogebic has won two straight entering Friday's game. The Miners' only losses came to Hurley and Lake Linden/Hubbell. Last week's win was a 36-20 decision over Ontonagon, a team the Trojans whipped 53-0 back in Week 4.
Northern Elite (7-1, 4-1) at White Lake (0-8, 0-4), Northern Lakes, 7 p.m. - Ben Laarman's Predators look to celebrate a conference championship this week, assuming a winless Elcho/White Lake squad doesn't come up with some sort of miracle. This contest should be over quick, as the Wolverines have been shut out four times this season and never scored more than 12 points. Predators' quarterback Joey Swanson, over 1,000 yards in both passing and rushing, leads the league on the ground and trails only Menominee Indian's Dallas Madosh for the league lead in passing. Madosh, playing at Crandon this week, has 1,171 passing yards to Swanson's 1,113 heading into this last week of the regular season for Wisconsin teams.
Lake Linden-Hubbell (4-3) at North Dickinson (6-1), 6 p.m. - Joe Reddinger's Nordics might improve their playoff seeding with a win over Lake Linden/Hubbell. Already assured a playoff spot, and having locked up the Mid-Eastern Conference title last week, North Dickinson looks to head into the postseason on a high note, as this contest wraps up regular-season play.
Bark River-Harris (2-5, 1-3) at North Central (5-2, 2-1), Mid-Eastern, 6 p.m. - Kevin Bellefeuil's Jets hope to clinch a postseason berth when they host the Broncos. Bark River, after starting the season 0-3, has spilt its last four. The Broncos lost to Munising 44-14 last week. The Jets beat Bark River 20-6 last season. A win here would mark second straight postseason berth for North Central, which is holding opponents to 16.7 points per game.
Florence (3-4) at Washburn (2-4), 7 p.m. - Florence aims for a .500 season and its third straight win at conference independent Washburn. Washburn enters off a 49-6 loss to Hurley. Washburn's wins came to Menominee Indian (12-7) and Ironwood (20-13). During its two-game win streak Florence has outscored its opponents 56-6.
Gwinn (2-5, 1-3) at Norway (2-5, 1-3), Mid-Peninsula, 6:30 p.m. - Bob Madigan's Knights look to stop a three-game skid when they host Gwinn in Norway's final home game of the season. Gwinn's last victory came back in Week 3, a 24-13 decision over Manistique. The Modeltowners fell 50-6 to Stephenson last week. In fact, Gwinn has scored just six points in each of its last four games. Norway won this game last season, 25-24.