Kingsford, Menominee look for GNC control


Sports Writer

KINGSFORD – The probable Great Northern Conference football champion plays Friday night at venerable Walton Blesch Field.

Since 1982, Kingsford or Menominee has been on top of the GNC. The unbeatens clash at 7 p.m.

“That’s just a fact,” said Flivver coach Chris Hofer when asked about GNC title implications. “If you look back at past history that’s the way it has been.”

Kingsford edged Menominee 14-13 in the 2012 regular season and wound up with the league title. The Maroons, playing at Walton Blesch, spanked the ailing Flivvers 48-14 in the playoffs.

Devon Harris and James Brown, two who did plenty of postseason damage, are back for the Maroons.

“Same kids, little bit older,” Hofer said of Menominee.

They’re a little bit more seasoned and a little faster. But we’re not too slow ourselves. We have some good players, too.”

Brown, 46 carries for 295 yards, and Justin Brilinski, 47-243, lead Menominee on the ground. Harris, in two games, shows 13 for 103.

Brilinski has done of the most of the throwing from the single wing, completing 29 of 46 for 371 yards. Devon Barley, 10 catches for 160 yards, and Shaun Sullivan, 9 for 138, are the top receivers.

“They’ve made a lot of big plays and they’ve got a lot of big-play kids,” said Hofer. “They don’t seem to have any trouble scoring. They’re an explosive team.”

Menominee averages 40 points per game, with the latest assault a 56-6 thumping of Gladstone. Brown rushed for four touchdowns.

“I don’t know if it’s the offense as much as the personnel,” said Hofer when assessing the single wing. “You have to get to them and tackle them. You have to stop the players (not the formation).”

Ken Hofer, who retired after the 2011 season, brought the single wing to Menominee. Chris Hofer doesn’t see a major difference between his dad and present Maroons coach Joe Noha in operating the offense.

“He (Noha) probably spreads the field out a little bit more,” Hofer said. “As far as what they’re running, that hasn’t changed.

“There’s a couple wrinkles in the passing game. But as far as the base offense, it’s the same stuff.”

Flivver quarterback Joe Hofer has completed 27 of 34 passes for 450 yards and six scores, with no interceptions. Cole Tengesdahl is the favorite target with 18 catches for 250 yards and four scores.

On the ground, Brody Sundquist has stepped for 351 yards on 44 trips and Alex Patterson has covered 177 yards on 32 attempts, with seven touchdowns.

Noha believes both defenses better bring their “A” game.

“They have a more balanced offense, they have more weapons and they always block well,” Noha said of the Flivvers. “With the amount of skill people on the field, both teams can take it to the house at any given moment. Defense is critical. We can’t afford to let them have long drives.”

Noha wants his Maroons balanced on defense and sure of coverage.

“Sundquist and Patterson run really well,” Noha said. “It appears Sundquist has the best speed in space. (Joe Hofer) does a good job of extending plays with his feet and finding open receivers. If we don’t put pressure on him and close the passing lanes, he can definitely hurt you.”

Kingsford whacked Rhinelander 49-13 last week. Linebackers Patterson and Jake Allen tallied 12 and 10 tackles, respectively. Patterson registered 16 defensive points; Allen, 12, and Ed Sexton 12.

In other action:

Friday, Sept. 27

Forest Park (4-0) at North Central (4-0), 6 p.m. – A clash of unbeatens with high-octane offenses is on tap when Bill Santilli’s Trojans head to Powers to face Coach Kevin Bellefeuil’s Jets. The Jets, averaging 34 points per game in wins over Ontonagon, Munising, Lake Linden-Hubbell and Baraga, suffered a 49-14 setback to these Trojans last season. Forest Park, 4-0 for the first time since the 2010 season, has scored 41 points per game in victories against Bark River-Harris, Norway, Hurley and Ontonagon.

West Iron County (4-0, 2-0) at Houghton (3-1, 2-1), West PAC, 6 p.m. – Mike Berutti’s Wykons look for the program’s first 5-0 start since 1990 when they travel north to face the Gremlins. Houghton enters on a 3-game win streak, with the team’s only loss coming in Week 1 against L’Anse (48-14). The Wykons, whipping Ironwood 49-0 last week, blanked Houghton 26-0 last season. The Wykons have two shutouts already this season. The last West Iron team to shutout at least three teams in a season was the 1999 squad.

Northern Elite (5-0) vs. Tri-County (1-4) at Plainfield, Wis., 7 p.m. – Ben Laarman’s Predators, coming off a 14-6 homecoming win at Goodman, Wis., take on Tri-County out of the Central Wisconsin Conference. Tri-County is 0-3 in its league games, losing last week to Rosholt, 44-6. Tri-County’s lone victory came against a 1-4 Johnson Creek team. The Penguins first three games of the season were decided by a touchdown or less. The 2008 Predators, under head coach Dan “Lefty” St. Arnauld were the last to start a season 6-0.

North Dickinson (4-0, 3-0) at Bark River-Harris (1-3, 0-1), Mid-Eastern, 6 p.m. – Coach Joe Reddinger’s Nordics are looking to head into their annual matchup with Forest Park undefeated for a fifth year in a row. To do that, the Nordics will need a road win against the suddenly surprising Broncos, who entered the win column last week with a 34-6 shocker over Gwinn.

Gwinn Coach Darren Sinnaeve didn’t expect Bark River-Harris to hammer his Modeltowners. “It’s the worst defeat I’ve ever had in 29 years of coaching football as far as disappointment goes,” he said.

The Broncos manhandled the Modeltowners in nearly every phase of the game, gaining 374 yards of offense – 342 on the ground – to just 123 for Gwinn. Running back Brian Latta powered BRH with 102 yards in 19 carries, including touchdown runs of seven and 22 yards

The Broncos lost to Forest Park 39-6 in Week 1. Bark River’s schedule also shows a 12-8 setback to Newberry, a team the Nordics took down 36-12.

North Dickinson blanked the Broncos 40-0 last year, and own a nine-game streak against them.

Florence (1-3, 0-2) at Crandon (3-2, 1-2), Northern Lakes, 7 p.m. – Florence, with its offensive production increasing each week, entered the win column last Friday with a 15-13 triumph over Suring. Now the Bobcats will look for their first Northern Lakes league win at Crandon. The Cardinals are sure to come in steaming, after leading and then coming up short against Northern Elite last week. Two turnovers and a muffed punt hurt the Cardinals in that game, a 14-6 loss.

Florence is far from done in its bid for a playoff berth. An upset win here Friday could set up the Bobcats for a run at a plus .500 record in the conference with 0-5 Elcho/White Lake and 2-3 Menominee Indian remaining on the league slate.

Saturday, Sept. 28

Ishpeming (4-0, 3-0) at Norway (2-2, 1-0), Mid-Peninsula, 1 p.m. – Coach Bob Madigan’s Knights, off to the same start as last season, enter the meat of their Mid-Peninsula schedule, hosting defending state champion Ishpeming. While this year’s Knights team is entering this game with the same record as a year ago, this year’s group brings in a two-game win streak. In fact, last week’s thrilling 36-34 victory marked the most points scored by a Norway team since a 48-8 win over Manistique on Sept. 16, 2011. The 2013 Knights have scored more than 20 points in three of their four games so far. Last year’s group only broke 20 twice, with a season high of 25.