Football preview: Flivvers set to face Maroons

IM faces big test in MPC-leading Gladstone

KINGSFORD — Great Northern Conference football rivals Kingsford and Menominee have squared off in the fifth week of the season since 2005.

That changes Friday in the eighth week of the season when the Flivvers (5-1, 2-0) and Maroons (5-2, 1-1) clash at 7 p.m. at Walton Blesch Field.

The new date doesn’t matter to Flivvers coach Chris Hofer.

“I don’t even think about it,” Hofer said. “It’s still a big game for us whether it’s early or late.”

The four-time defending GNC champion Maroons, led by Ethan Mileski’s five touchdowns, routed Sault Ste. Marie 42-14 last week.

“We knew we couldn’t match Menominee’s speed,” Sault Coach Scott Menard said. “We felt our best bet was to grind it out and try to control the football. If we couldn’t keep Mileski off the edge, we knew we were in trouble.”

Mileski covered 73 yards for one of his four scores on the ground. He threw for another.

“Getting the kids back up after the Escanaba game was not a problem,” said Maroons assistant Jamie Schomer, who was filling in for Joe Noha while the head coach was attending his daughter’s wedding activities. “We had a letdown against Escanaba, and hurt ourselves with four turnovers in that game.”

Escanaba, which defeated Menominee 42-21 for the first time in 19 years, and Kingsford are both unbeaten in GNC football. The Flivvers are aiming for their first league title since 2012.

“Pretty even game with a lot of turnovers for Menominee and a lot of big plays for Esky,” Hofer said. “That was the story of the game, a little deceiving because both teams moved the ball pretty good.”

Mileski and Jacob Rivard, who ran for a team-high 76 yards against the Maroons, will be the focus of the Flivver defense.

“They’re two good backs and they’re coming downhill at you hard,” Hofer said. “You have to try to take away the alleys and you have to tackle. There’s a lot of blockers at the point of attack. You have to beat them to the punch.”

The playoff-bound Flivvers host Escanaba next week to close out the regular season.

Kingsford defeated Iron Mountain 42-7 last week in the 93rd meeting between the local schools.

“It was OK minus the turnovers,” Hofer said of two pass interceptions. “But we got our share ourselves so that was good.”

Flivvers’ Chase Kreski and Nate Rutter intercepted passes while Jordon Jones and Kalvin Nichols recovered fumbles. Jones tallied a team-high 21 points on the defensive chart followed by Preston Strong, 14; Tyler Beauchamp, 12, and Rutter, 11. Strong led the Flivvers with nine tackles.

“We have to be a little more disciplined on defense,” Hofer said. “Other than that we’ repretty happy with the way the team has progressed.”

Gladstone a big test for Iron Mountain

The Mountaineers have their hands full again.

After being whitewashed in a 42-7 loss to rival Kingsford last week, Iron Mountain (1-6) faces Mid-Peninsula Conference front-runner Gladstone.

The Braves (6-1), ranked No. 4 in the Big Five division of the UP Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association poll, are coming off a 35-14 loss to Escanaba last week.

“They’re going to come in with a spread offense. We haven’t seen a true spread offense this year,” Iron Mountain head coach Robin Marttila said. “A lot of teams we play run a little bit of spread, because that’s what most people do. Their No. 1 offense that they want to execute is the spread.”

Marttila said preparing for a primary spread offense brings unique challenges by opening the middle of the field. Open-field tackling will be a key emphasis for the Mountaineers’ defense.

“We watched a little bit more film this week versus most weeks. It’s just something you cannot replicate in practice in terms of their speed and athleticism,” Marttila said. “We’re trying to put our kids in a position to be successful. It poses its challenges just like every other offense. We have to line up in multiple sets and tackle in space. That’ll be the key to the game on the defensive side of the ball.”

The Mountaineers get back Justin Hood, who’s missed the last month. Jacob Arnold is also returning from injury.

ALSO: West Iron County downed Northland Pines 20-8 last week to reach six wins on the season and qualify for the playoffs. Now the Wykons have their sights set on winning the West PAC.

West Iron County (6-1, 5-0) travels to second-place Hancock (6-1, 4-1) on Friday. The Wykons wrap up the regular season on Oct. 20 against L’Anse.

“Hancock is a big test,” said WIC head coach Mike Berutti, noting the playoff points that come with playing bigger schools. “We just have to keep our focus. We know they’re going to throw the ball all over the field.”

The Bulldogs, who run a no-huddle offense, outscored Gwinn 56-32 last week. Colton Salani accounted for six touchdowns, five passing and one rushing.

“We have two tough teams yet,” Berutti said. “We have to get better each week.

Hancock has also qualified for the MHSAA playoffs, reachig the postseason for the third time in school history and the first since 2006.

— The Daily News sports editor Adam Niemi contributed to this report.