By RON DEUTER
IRON MOUNTAIN - Iron Mountain and Norway enter the final week of the season on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture, but snagging a 'W' against a rival provides plenty of motivation for both sides.
Theresa Proudfit/The Daily News Photo
Norway’s Jordan Neumann, running around a block from Pat Guffey, rushed for 142 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s 34-0 win over Gwinn.
"Norway and us are pretty similar and have had pretty similar seasons this year," Mountaineers coach Robin Marttila said. "We've had a little of the injury bug and so has Norway. That changes things from week to week as far as preparing your team to play the game and as far as looking at the other team."
One question mark heading into this one was the status of Norway (2-6, 1-4) quarterback Taylor Bonetti, injured last week against Gwinn. Knights head coach Bob Madigan said the signal caller would be playing Friday night.
"He's going to play, but we're still banged up," he said.
Bonetti ranks third in the league this season with 647 yards passing. His seven passing touchdowns are second best among MPC gunslingers.
Also in is running back Jordan Neumann, who Marttila said will be the Mountaineers' focus.
"It starts with him," he said. "He's a three-year a starter, a real good football player."
Neumann ran for 142 yards and two touchdowns last week.
Norway's task will be to slow James Christiansen, who is questionable for the game after leaving last week's contest against Escanaba with an ankle issue.
"We have to stop their running back," Madigan said. "He's the key to their offense. If we can slow him, play some defense, we have a chance."
Christiansen has eight touchdowns this season. He needs about 150 yards to crack the 1,000 mark for the season. Only Negaunee's Tyler LaJoie has rushed for more yards among Mid-Pen backs.
Norway's last win against the Mountaineers (3-5, 3-2) came during the 2001 season. The Knights beat IM to finish the regular season and then pinned a playoff loss on the Mountaineers the very next week.
"It'd sure be nice to get a win," Madigan said. "We have a legitimate chance. We have to play four quarters of football. Stopping their running back is the key. It's a rivalry, although Iron Mountain has had the best of it. We'll step up and play hard."
Iron Mountain won 33-14 in last season's meeting.
"It's a rivalry game on both sides," Marttila said. "We know them and they know us. They want to win it and we want to win it. We're preparing to try our best and give ourselves a chance to win Friday night.
"Our seniors know this will be their last game - and last game on their home field - and they want to end it on a positive note."
Friday's kickoff from Mountaineer Stadium is at 6 p.m.
for playoff opener
Winnebago Lutheran Academy (5-4) vs. Northern Elite (8-1) at Niagara, WIAA Division 5 playoffs, 7 p.m.
NIAGARA, Wis. -Playoff football begins in Niagara Friday as the Northern Lakes Conference champion Northern Elite Predators begin their quest for a deep postseason run.
Northern Elite's postseason success rides on the arm and legs of quarterback Joey Swanson. He finished the season over 1,100 yards in both passing and rushing, accounting 15 of the team's 26 rushing touchdowns and throwing for another 13 scores.
Jake Pedrotti supplements the ground attack, showing 11 touchdowns in 73 tries. By air, Trent Heath led Northern Elite with 505 yards and five touchdowns. Patrick Moreau has caught four touchdown passes. The Predators have outscored opponents 305 to 106 this season.
Northern Elite's Level 1 foe, Winnebago Lutheran finished fourth in the Flyway Conference this season. They averaged 24.6 points per game, allowing 25.6 points per game.
Quarterback Brandon Schilling has played in all nine games, passing for 1,061 yards with nine touchdowns, completing 68-of-154 passes (44.2 percent). Leading rusher is Tim Anderson with 861 yards in 141 carries with six touchdowns, but Schilling leads in touchdowns with nine.
Mitch McFarlane (473 yards, 5 touchdowns) and Lucas Muche (221 yards, 4 touchdowns) lead the team's receivers.
In other action Friday night:
West Iron County (8-0) at Bark River-Harris (2-6), 6 p.m. - A two-win Bark River-Harris Broncos team is all that stands between coach Mike Berutti's Wykons and history as West Iron County tries to produce its first-ever 9-0 regular season. The Wykons have not been held under 35 points since Sept. 13, and over those past five games, West Iron County's average margin of victory is 36.2 points. The Wykons are 2-0 in this series since it picked up in 2012. Last year saw the Wykons win 28-14 in what was a 5-4 season for West Iron.
Stephenson (4-4, 1-3) at North Central (6-2, 3-1), Mid-Eastern, 6 p.m. - Coach Kevin Bellefeuil's Jets, locking up a postseason berth last week, can match the most wins since the 1993 team if they can get past Stephenson in this regular-season finale. The Jets are averaging 29 points per game while Stephenson shows a 27.8 points per game average. Stephenson's losses include Norway, North Dickinson, Bark River-Harris and last week's 17-8 setback to Munising. In the Bark River contest, Stephenson lost 32-24. North Central beat Bark River 40-12 last week, and also got through Munising 14-12 back in Week 2. North Central's last win against Stephenson was 2010. The Eagles won 35-6 last year.
Saturday, Oct. 26
Forest Park (8-0, 4-0) at Lake Linden-Hubbell (5-3, 3-1), Great Western, 12:30 p.m. - Don't look now, but coach Bill Santilli's Trojans have a shot for their first 9-0 regular season since 2008 when the Trojans advanced to a state title game. A victory over Lake Linden Saturday gives the Trojans the conference title outright. This year's Trojans have allowed just 73 points through eight games, less than 10 points per contest. Lake Linden comes in off of last week's 16-8 win over North Dickinson, giving the team four wins in its last five games after a 1-2 start. Lake Linden's losses came to Hurley (30-20), North Central (22-14) and Houghton (32-26). At 3-1 in the conference, the Lakes would share a piece of the league title with a victory.
Florence (3-5) vs. Pepin/Alma (9-0) at Marshfield, WIAA Division 7 playoffs, 1 p.m. - Dan Robinson's Florence Bobcats earned a spot on the WIAA postseason, but the reward is a date with undefeated Pepin/Alma, a team averaging 41.6 points per game. Pepin/Alma has outscored foes 374 to 108 this season. And since Week 1, the Lakeland South champs have not allowed more than 20 in a game. Florence went 3-2 over its final five games, and after averaging 5.6 points per game through the first five games of the season, the Bobcats put up closer to 20 per game over the final three.