Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Winging their way to a dream

Winging their way to a dream
Published Monday, November 20, 2006 12:00:52 AM Central Time

Assistant sports editor

MARQUETTE, Mich. -- Their helmets raised in triumph for the 13th time, the Menominee Maroons are on the express lane to Ford Field.

The Maroons knocked unbeaten Saginaw Swan Valley onto the playoff exit ramp with a 34-0 win on the carpet at the Superior Dome Saturday afternoon.

Menominee will play unbeaten Madison Heights Madison (13-0) for the Division 5 state title Saturday at 3:30 p.m. (CST) on the home field of the Detroit Lions.

"This is probably one of the hardest working teams we've had," coach Ken Hofer said. "This is really great and the young people deserve it."

Menominee kept its incredible playoff shutout streak intact as it smothered the undersized Vikings' highly-tauted speed under a rolling wave of Maroon intensity.

Menominee Maroons (from left) Brian Busick, Ryan Paliewicz and Anthony Polazzo celebrate their state semifinal victory over Saginaw Swan Valley on Saturday in Marquette's Superior Dome. The Maroons won 34-0.
EagleHerald/Jody Korch


The Maroons picked off five passes, including a ball-hawking hat trick by Matt LaCanne, and recovered two fumbles.

"They didn't do anything we didn't expect, they just did it better," Saginaw Swan Valley coach Rich Bell said. "Film doesn't do them justice."

The Maroon defense allowed just 98 toal yards and never allowed the Viking speed backs to get into open space.

The single wing and Maroon offensive line began to take its toll on the second possession. Matt Eisenzoph blasted through the Vikings for a 13-yard gain and Blake Chouinard flipped 15-yard option spiral to Mike Hansen to spark a nine-play, 53-yard drive. EIsenzoph slammed it over from the 1 with 3:45 left in the first period.

Jacob Pedersen flattened QB Adam Houthoofd for a 10-yard loss and Eisenzoph, Josh Blavat and Robert Forgette chilled speed-burner Brandon Hayes for a 2-yard loss to blow up Saginaw's second series.

LaCanne snagged the ensuing punt on the bounce and raced back to the Viking 40.

Menominee's Matt LaCanne steps in front of Saginaw Swan Valley's Brandon Hayes to snare one of his three interceptions in the Maroons' 34-0 win over the Vikings at the Superior Dome in Marquette on Saturday. The Maroons picked off five passes and recovered two fumbles in their 13th straight win.
EagleHerald/Jody Korch


A Menominee team that has taken care of the ball all season, suddenly got a case of fumble-itis. After getting away with fumbles on three straight plays, Blake Chouinard made a 27-yard dash toward the goal line. But just as he was about to stride to paydirt, the Vikings knocked the ball loose and recovered it in the end zone for a touchback.

LaCanne quickly doused any spark the fumble gave the Vikings. Under pressure from a Maroon pass rush, Houthoofd overthrew two receivers. As the ball floated toward the turf, LaCanne made a shoestring catch for his second interception.

Chouinard made amends for his fumble with a determined 17-yard run, and tossed a 9-yard pass to Hansen, who darted to the 2. Ethan Shaver burst into the end zone to push the lead to 14-0 lead with 7:22 left in the half.

A Viking defense already on the field for 28 plays needed a sustained drive by the offense, but the Maroon 'D' smelled blood.

Pedersen buried Hayes for a 2-yard loss and a wild-bull blitz by Eiszenzoph forced an incomplete pass.

Menominee got the short field again when LaCanne sprinted down to the Viking 45 on the punt. A 21-yard gallop by Chouinard, followed by a late-hit penalty gave the Maroons a first down at the 11. After a 7-yard run by Eisenzoph behind a block by Shaver, Chouinard followed the block of Nate Linsmeier into the end zone. Chouinard's second PAT hiked the lead to 20-0 with 4:03 left.

A 10-yard sack by Eisenzoph forced Saginaw into a third-and-15 hole at its own 15. Houthoofd's pass was tipped downfield, but LaCanne was on the ball again for his second pick of the half. After snatching the errant pass at the 35, he raced to the Viking 15.

"I was just at the right place at the right time," LaCanne said modestly. "We worked on their passing game all week. They didn't do anything different than what we worked on in practice."

Hansen snared a 7-yard pass after LaCanne's pick and Shaver sliced in from the 3 behind blocks by Brian Busick and Dustin Kovar. Chouinard's kick gave the Maroons a 27-0 lead as the huge Maroon crowd began its "U.P. Power" chant.

Matt Eisenzoph gets a bear hug from his proud stepfather, Rich Shatusky, following the Maroons' fifth straight shutout. Menominee will play Madison Heights Madison for the Division 5 state title Saturday at Ford Field in Detroit.
EagleHerald/Jody Korch


Saginaw drove from its own 20 to the Maroon 41 on its final first-half series before Shaver came out of nowhere to join the secondary "pick party" with an interception to end the half.

A fumble recovery on Menominee's second play of the third quarter gave Saginaw the ball at the Maroon 45. After a 10-yard ramble by Hoothoofd, Robert Forgette buried the threat by pouncing on a fumble.

Menominee's hard-hitting defense administered another dose of turnover trauma when Hansen jolted the ball loose from Houthoofd with a bone-shivering hit. Scott DeMars jumped on the ball at the Viking 13.

Shaver broke away from the grasp of Brad Bourbina in the Maroon backfield, then took off like a bottle rocket for a 10-yard scoring dart. Chouinard's fourth kick gave the Maroons their 34-0 margin with 4:45 left in the third period.

The Maroon air defense struck again early in the fourth period when Kert Roubal swiped a pass and flippped back to Shaver, who bobbed and weaved to the Viking 46.

LaCanne came up with his third interception on Saginaw's next possession.

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