By RON DEUTER
IRON MOUNTAIN - Making his first varsity start at quarterback, Iron Mountain junior Brock Grenier threw for three touchdowns as Iron Mountain earned a 28-14 homecoming victory over Westwood Friday night in Mid-Peninsula Conference football at Mountaineer Stadium.
Theresa Proudfit/The Daily News Photos
Iron Mountain quarterback Brock Grenier eludes Westwood’s Luke Duquette (14) and Tyler Villeneuve (68) in Friday’s Mid-Peninsula Conference football game at Mountaineer Stadium.
Tom Wender (left), coach of Iron Mountain High School’s 1993 state championship football team, talks to Jeff Angeli (center) and Don Bunnin prior to the Mountaineers game Friday with Westwood. More than 25 players and coaches from the 1993 team appeared Friday for a reunion.
"Brock, what can you say," Mountaineers coach Robin Marttila said. "He had a great game. That's not easy going into a varsity game playing quarterback, but he made some nice plays passing. It was great for Brock and great for our team."
Grenier was pressed into duty late in last week's game at Negaunee after starter Craig Qualley went down with injury.
Grenier attempted only 11 passes in the game, completing six, but they were timely strikes against a Westwood squad having a hard enough time trying to slow the Mountaineers on the ground.
The Mountaineers served a steady doses of James Christiansen to keep the chains moving and the clock ticking on each of its first two drives. And Grenier capped both with touchdown throws to Justin Rock.
Rock, also recently back from injury, caught four balls for 40 yards, all in the first half. He hauled in a six-yard touchdown for the game's first points and caught a screen pass for a 10-yard score in the second quarter.
Christiansen, returning to action after missing last week's game with injury, collected 81 of his game-high 138 rushing yards in the first half, taking 34 handoffs in the game.
"We came out and we played hard, and that's the goal every week," Marttila said. "We were able to run the ball. Credit to our offensive line for opening up some holes tonight."
Westwood was able to keep the game a one-score affair in the first half thanks to finding the end zone in between the Mountaineers' two touchdowns.
Mitchell Messing, the Patriots' leading rusher with 77 yards on five carries, broke free for a 59-yard run two plays after Iron Mountain's first touchdown. A missed two-point try kept the Mountaineers in front, though.
The Patriots also forced a punt from Iron Mountain near midfield on another second quarter drive.
"We had some chances early to make some more plays," Marttila said. "It just didn't happen. Their kids played hard and you have to respect that."
Westwood was driving with a chance to even the game late in the first half, but saw the possession stall inside the Mountaineer 40 when a penalty backed them up near midfield and forced a punt.
Iron Mountain took the third quarter kick and scored touchdowns on each of its first two possessions to make it 28-6 contest, the second drive set up after Rock recovered a Westwood fumble near the Patriots 40.
Grenier came through with big pass plays on both drives. He hit Cole Rossato for a 29-yard gain on a third and nine from the Westwood 35 on the first drive. That set up Christiansen for a two-yard plunge.
On the next drive, Iron Mountain was facing a third and 16 from just inside the red zone when Grenier connected with Nate Markell for a 19-yard strike.
Westwood scored a fourth-quarter touchdown against Iron Mountain's reserves. Quarterback Trevor Burke made a nifty run along the left sideline, spinning and busting through several tackles on his way to a 34-yard score.
Westwood also debuted a new offensive formation in the second half that Patriots coach John Jessen labeled a triple spin. The shotgun set featured a full-house backfield that all converged - almost in a huddle - as the ball was snapped. Each guy would then spin and take off in various directions.
The Patriots picked up a couple of decent gains with the set, but also fumbled twice, including the one that was lost in the third quarter.
"I like to stay with my base stuff," Jessen said. "But its a formation I can throw in if I need to.
"Our kids played hard. We're getting better every week. We're young and a work in progress. We need to hold our blocks a little longer and control the line of scrimmage on the offensive side a little more. And we've obviously got to work on our coverage defensively."
Iron Mountain improved to 2-3 (2-2) on the season and hosts Manistique Friday. Westwood, hosting Gwinn next week, is 0-5 (0-2).
"Coach (Kevin) Sullivan gave a good talk Monday about playing for the love of the game," Marttila said. "And we did that tonight."
NOTES: The Mountaineers introduced and honored its 1993 state championship team prior to kickoff, celebrating the 20th reunion of the group ... The Tom Johnson Memorial Fund provided pizza for the team after the game, coach Marttila, referring to Johnson as "a great Mountaineer" who would have loved to been part of the reunion with the 1993 team ... Marttila said the team's thoughts were also with junior varsity assistant Scott Jauquet, whose mother Patricia passed away earlier in the week.
Westwood 6 0 0 8 - 14
Iron Mountain 86 8 6 - 28
IM - Justin Rock 6 pass from Brock Grenier (James Christiansen run), 4:10.
WW - Mitchell Messing 59 run (run failed), 3:15.
IM - Rock 10 pass from Grenier (run failed), 10:11.
IM - Christiansen 2 run (Rock pass from Grenier), 6:22.
IM - Nate Markell 19 pass from Grenier (pass failed), 11:54.
WW - Trevor Burke 34 run (Messing run), 2:54.
Total yards - Westwood 218 (210 run, 8 pass); Iron Mountain 276 (188 run, 88 pass).
Rushing leaders - WW: Messing 5-77, Burke 7-44; IM: Christiansen 34-138, Rock 4-22, Grenier 4-20.
Receiving leaders - WW: Luke Duquette 1-8; IM: Rock 4-40, Cole Rossato 1-20, Markell 1-19.
Passing - WW: Burke 1-4-8-0-0, Tanner Giroux 0-1-0-0-0; IM: Grenier 6-11-88-3-0.
First downs - WW: 7; IM: 16.
Penalties - WW: 3-30; IM: 2-15.