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Prep Football — Unbeaten Ishpeming heading to Norway

NORWAY — Having dropped their season opener to Lake Linden-Hubbell on Labor Day weekend at Ronberg Field 32-14, the Norway Knights and first-year head coach Scott Popp traveled to Munising last week, shutting out the host Mustangs 14-0 in West PAC Iron Division play.

The Knights now welcome the undefeated Ishpeming Hematites to Ronberg Field Friday night.

Popp’s squad is ready for the challenge.

“The boys are ready to strap them up,” he said. “It’s going to be a fun and physical game. The boys are hungry because we know Ishpeming is the team to beat in our division of the conference.”

Knights and Hematites have faced one another every year since 1976, when the Mid Peninsula Conference was formed. Including playoffs, the all-time series between these teams is deadlocked, 23-23. The Hematites own a 2-1 advantage in playoff meetings, while the Knights own a 22-21 advantage in regular season meetings.

Long-time Ishpeming head coach Jeff Olson retired from the Hematite sidelines after the 2018 season.Former JV head coach George Niemi has taken over the varsity reins.

In the first Associated Press Prep Football Poll, the Hematites were ranked No. 3 in Division 8.

Kickoff for Friday night is set at 6 p.m.

In other action this week:

Pickford (2-0,1-0) at North Central (2-0,0-0) Saturday 2:30 p.m. (Great Lakes Conference 8-Player Crossover Game)

In what could be one of the biggest games of the season in the state, on the 8-man side of Michigan high school football, head coach Leo Gorzinski and his North Central Jets welcome the Pickford Panthers to town. Both teams, 2-0 on the young season, are also both ranked in the season’s first Associated Press Prep Football Poll.

Pickford , runner up in the State in 8-man Division 1 last season, is ranked No. 1. The Jets sit at No. 3, having received one of the five first place votes. Defending 8-man Division 1 state champion Morrice received the other four first place votes, but ended up second in the first poll behind Pickford.

Gorzinski, on facing the top ranked team in the State for their home opener: “They’re bigger than us, and they’re stronger than us. But we’re quicker and faster, and hope to capitalize on our speed. We hope to strike quick and strike often.

“We expect them to focus on running the ball in an attempt to open up their passing game. Their quarterback is quite an athlete(Jimmy Story), before you know it, he’ll have 130 rushing yards and three touchdown passes.”

North Central comes off of consecutive road wins, 66-12 at DeTour versus Cedarville in Week 1. Then defeating defending 8-man Division 2 state champion Rapid River 62-6 last week.

Hortonville (Wis.) (3-0) at Kingsford (1-1), 7 p. m. (Non-Conference)

Coming off of their first win of the season at Shiocton, Wis., by a 35-14 tally, the Kingsford Flivvers and first-year head coach Mark Novara hope to continue their winning ways in their home opener Friday night at Flivver Field. The undefeated Polar Bears of Hortonville, Wis., make the trip up to Dickinson County.

Playing in the highly competitive Fox Valley Football Association-South Division, Hortonville will pose a great challenge for the Flivvers. They have a pass-orientated offense and have outscored their three opponents 105-45 thus far on the 2019 season, 28-7 in the first quarter alone.

Iron Mountain (2-0, 2-0) at Houghton (0-2, 0-2), 6 p.m. (West PAC- Copper Division)

The 2018 meeting between these two teams was the first and only meeting between them, a 42-0 Mountaineer win at Mountaineer Stadium. The Bulldogs haven’t had a winning season or made the playoffs since 2013 when they went 6-3 and lost in Round 1 of the Division 5 playoffs at Menominee 63-6.

At 0-2 on the season, Houghton lost at Westwood in week 1 (24-12) and to L’Anse last week, 39-20. The Mountaineers and head coach Robin Marttila hope to build on their unblemished 2-0 record to begin the season with three straight wins for the first time since 2016.

“Houghton has six players returning on both sides of the ball. They have a nice mix of size and speed,” Marttila said.

Friday night was the targeted game for the return of senior quarterback Marcus Johnson, but his return to action from an offseason foot injury is still week-to-week. Colin Visintainer has played well under center in relief of Johnson.

North Dickinson (0-2) at Brimley (2-0, 1-0), 6 p.m. (Great Lakes 8-Player crossover game)

Faced with a 400-plus mile round trip to the eastern U.P, the winless Nordics will try to get in to the win column against the 2-0 Brimley Bays. Hosting their home opener, Brimley will remain home for two more weeks after the Nordics game to face Rudyard and Cedarville.

These teams have faced one another eight times, but for the first time in 8-man play.

Their last meeting was back in 2009, then Nordics coach Joe Reddinger led his team to a 45-0 win at Brimley. The Bays’ lone victory versus North Dickinson was in 1986 by a score of 22-6.

Manistique (1-1, 1-1) at West Iron (2-0, 2-0), 6 p.m. (West PAC Iron Division)

Having only played 2-of-7 games on their 2018 schedule, and forfeiting the remaining five due to lack of players, the Manistique Emeralds bring the excitement of winning their first game since 2015 to Nelson Field in Stambaugh to face the undefeated West Iron County Wykons. This is also the Emeralds’ first ever trip to play a game at Nelson Field.

Defeating Gwinn 28-8 at home, the Emeralds won their first regular season home game since defeating Westwood 44-28, Week 9 of 2012. The following week in 2012, Manistique defeated Harbor Springs 12-6 in Round 1 of the Division 7 playoffs, for their last home victory, until getting off the winless schneid last week.

West Iron won their home opener last week over Bark River – Harris 29-12, to move to 2-0 on the young season. The Wykons have won the only two previous meetings between these teams. 41-0 at Manistique last season in week 3. Back in 2008, a Division 7 Round 2 playoff matchup at Manistique was won by West Iron 16-10.

Florence(3-0, 2-0) at Sevastopol (0-3,0-2), 7 p.m. (Marinette-Oconto-Northern Lakes-Packerland 8 Conference)

The undefeated Bobcats of Florence take the long bus trip to Door County to face defending WIAA 8-Player state champion Sevastopol, who are winless thus far in 2019. Having outscored their opponents 150-14 so far this season, head coach Kent Walstrom has been very pleased with his team.

The winless Pioneers defeated Luck 38-30, to capture the inaugural WIAA 8-Player Football state championship. Luck ended Florence’s 2018 season in a Level 1 playoff game by a score of 70-42.

The Bobcats will have all conference games the rest of the season, having won their lone non-conference game last week against Three Lakes 50-0 at Robert Landry Field in Florence.

Superior Central (2-0, 0-0) at Forest Park (1-1, 0-0), 6 p.m. (Great Lakes Conference 8-Player crossover game)

Hosting the second of three straight home games, the Forest Park Trojans are coming off of a 60-0 whitewashing of the Rudyard Bulldogs. Forest Park welcomes the undefeated Superior Central Cougars to Dick Mettlach Field.

The Cougars defeated North Dickinson week 1 52-40 at home. Nine days later they traveled to Powers to face Carney-Nadeau and eked out a 44-42 win. This will be the fourth all-time meeting between these teams.

The Trojans won in consecutive seasons in 2016 and 2017. The Cougars won last year’s meeting in an afternoon contest 46-24. Running Back CJ Post and quarterback Tommy Peltoma led the Trojans’ scoring barrage last week.