Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ending Year Facing SW Teams

Menominee at Gladstone
Mid Peninsula visits Rapid River

Published: Thursday, October 18, 2007
Big finish for Esky, Braves

By Dennis Grall -

ESCANABA — The Upper Peninsula’s top two teams are all that remain before Escanaba and Gladstone turn in their football gear this season.

Unbeaten and top-ranked Menominee (8-0) brings a 22-game winning streak to the Marble Athletic Field Friday to face Gladstone (3-5). Escanaba (1-7) ends an injury-plaqued season at No. 2 Kingsford (5-3).

Menominee, the reigning D-5 state champion, is already in the playoffs. Kingsford can advance into the postseason with a victory.

Another season-ended comes tonight when Mid Peninsula (3-5) visits Rapid River (3-5). The game was scheduled for Friday but was pushed ahead so a couple of Rapid River players could avoid a conflict with the U.P. cross country finals Saturday.

Gladstone is a huge underdog against Menominee, which has been ranked first all season in the Associated Press D-5 state poll.

“They are a well balanced football team with probably three outstanding football players that really rise them to whole level above people that are good,” said Gladstone coach John Mileski.

He was referring to tailback Ethan Shaver, who ran for three touchdowns and 217 yards in a 28-14 victory of Marinette, fullback-linebacker Matt Eisenzoph and end Jacob Pedersen.

“From the stands I get the impression that Eisenzoph is kind of the glue. He looks like their leader,” said Mileski. “Athletically, Shaver is their standout and Pedersen is just an outstanding high school football player.”

Asked if the vaunted single-wing can be stopped, Mileski said “I think so. They are human. They can be beaten, but it will take a good football team.

“The key to beating them is really executing whatever you do defensively, and No. 1, you have to take away the sweep.”

Mileski said the Maroons also have a good power game inside and a solid trapping game, and use the counter effectively. “Basically they have an extra blocker and it seems like they are running downhill all the time. It is a real challenge to stop it because they do block very well.”

Mileski said Shaver “is explosive but he is real shifty, too. Once he gets the crease, then he explodes.”

The Braves gave Kingsford a much tougher fight last week than the final score would indicate, and Mileski expects the same performance against Menominee. “We will give it our last good shot,” he said. “If we do, we will make it a ball game. We have to play very good defense and try to keep the ball out of their hands.”

Injuries have been a common occurance for the Eskymos, who have lost four one-point games this season. Coach Dan Flynn said fullback-linebacker Garrick Fisher, one of the team’s top performers, will definitely miss the finale. He has a separated shoulder which may also force him to miss the basketball season.

Also sidelined are running backs Paul Wakefield and Hans Theoret, tight end Tim LeBeau, and linemen Jacob Stefl and Richard Bender and tight end Andrew Bougie.

Handicapped by the injuries, the Eskymos are trying to rebound from a 39-6 loss at Remus Chippewa Hills, and using reserves against the potent Flivvers will be difficult.

“It is a huge impact on what you are trying to do and to make adjustments,” said Escanaba coach Dan Flynn. “It is an opportune time for kids who haven’t played a whole lot, and I am confident they will step up and do well. It is part of the game and you have to deal with it.”

The Eskymos will try to contain quarterback Dan Sjoquist and fullback Josh Droese, who combined to rush for 223 yards in a 48-19 thrashing of Gladstone last week. Sjoquist also hit all three passes he tried for 102 yards and two touchdowns.

“We have to focus on both of them,” said Flynn. “They have a good inside game and a good outside game. Their passing game really hasn’t been tested. We’re going to try to do that.”

The Flivvers have an aggressive, physical defense that will try to contain quarterback Jordan LeMire and tailback Paul Theoret. Esky was limited to 243 yards last week, with 172 on the ground.

Despite the difficult season, Flynn said the players remain upbeat and are staying focused. “The kids are working hard and giving everything they can,” he said. “They are going to go out to win.”
Daily Press
600 Ludington St.,
Escanaba, MI

No comments: