Mountaineers welcome Gwinn

IRON MOUNTAIN – Week 1 to Week 2 of the prep football season sees Iron Mountain go from playing one of the best teams in the state to a team that managed just one Mid-Peninsula Conference victory last season.

The Gwinn Modeltowners, 34-8 losers at Gladstone last week, visit Mountaineer Stadium Friday at 6 p.m.

Shut out by defending champion Ishpeming last week, Iron Mountain head coach Robin Marttila said seeing wholesale improvement from his team is more important than the supposed strength or lack thereof of this week’s opponent.

“Bottom line is we have to play better this week,” he said. “We have to coach better. We have to play better. We want to play with more energy.”

The Modeltowners were 2-7 last season, beating Manistique for the lone league victory. Their other 2013 win came against the very team they lost to last week in Gladstone. Despite the perceived shortcomings, Marttila says the Modeltowners possess good athletes in key positions.

“They’ve got pretty good size along the offensive and defensive lines,” he said. “They’ve got some big boys on their roster. I expect to see some pretty good athletes.”

Gwinn’s only touchdown last week came in the second quarter. Junior tailback Devin Dachs led the charge up field until quarterback Jonah Norman pegged Desmond Boogren for a 30-yard score.

“They like to throw the long ball,” Marttila said. “They’ve got two decent receivers.”

In addition to the down field threats, which also includes 6-foot-2, 178-pound, senior tight end Mike Rector, Gwinn proved last week it can run the football. Dachs finished with 137 yards on 29 carries against the Braves.

New head coach Dion Brown was the Modeltowners jayvee coach last season. He replaced Darren Sinnaeve for the varsity head job.

“My job is to change the whole culture around here,” the former Northern Michigan University defensive standout told the Mining Journal in a season preview story, “but it’s all up to the kids. If they think they can compete, they will compete.”

The Modeltowners were expected to start the season with sophomore Jalen Skinner under center, but he suffered a broken wrist preseason, leaving the quarterbacking duties to Norman, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound junior.

“He’s the best athlete in Gwinn High School,” Brown said. “He’s quick, athletic, smart and understands things.”

Iron Mountain earned its first of the season last year with a 27-8 triumph over the Modeltowners, extending the Mountaineers win streak over the Modeltowners to 15 straight seasons.

“We’re hungry to get a win, I know that,” Marttila said.

NOTES: Starting G/DL Eric Pivoris (shoulder) is not expected to play Friday.