Mountaineers look for improvement


Sports Editor

IRON MOUNTAIN – Iron Mountain, admittedly overmatched against defending state champion Ishpeming in Week 1, looks to tack up victory No. 1 at Gwinn Friday night.

“We match up well with Gwinn,” Mountaineers head coach Robin Marttila said. “But we’re going have to play well to beat them. We’re going to have to improve.

“The main objective this week is to get better.”

Not much of anything went the Mountaineers’ way in Week 1, but Marttila said the team didn’t help themselves either.

“A lot of things didn’t go our way, but we made way too many mistakes,” he said. “We’ve watched the film. We’re going to learn from it and try to get better.”

Marttila said despite the 36-0 loss it’s too soon for anyone to push the panic button.

“We’re just trying to get better,” he said. “You can’t make wholesale changes in a week and expect to be successful. We’re not doing that.”

The Mountaineers have defeated Gwinn 14 seasons in a row, but the Modeltowners, an 18-6 winner over Gladstone last week, come back more experienced than Iron Mountain.

“They have high expectations,” Marttila said. “They have a lot of experience back in the backfield, a lot of players back. They are athletic in the backfield. I think everyone in our conference knows that.”

Marttila said Gwinn quarterback Justin Nyquist is a good athlete. Owen DeVooght is the fullback. He made the difference last week with a 25-yard interception return for a touchdown.

“He’s a real good fullback,” Marttila said. “And their tailback (Luke Sinnaeve), 6-2 and 190 pounds, they’ve got three pretty good athletes back there who we’ve seen for a couple of years now. We’re going to have to contend with them.”

Gwinn rushed for nearly 200 yards last week, Sinnaeve accounting for 113 of those. The Modeltowners defense shut down the Gladstone ground attack and intercepted a total of three passes in the game.

“I thought our offense would be our strength,” Gwinn head coach Darren Sinnaeve told the Marquette Mining Journal following the game. “But tonight, it was our defense. We stunted well and our secondary didn’t let anyone get behind them.”

The win was Gwinn’s first opening week non-forfeit victory since 2004. After starting 0-3 last season, the team played .500 football the rest of the way.

“It’ll be a challenge for us Friday night, but we hope we’re up for the challenge,” Marttila said. “Everyone has to get better. The players, the coaches, the managers, the film guy, everyone.”

Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. (Central).

NOTES: The Mountaineers suffered two injuries last week. Izzy Barraza remains out this week, while Justin Rock is a game-time decision.