Thursday, September 10, 2009

Celebration in Ontonagon

Glads come from behind to beat Baraga, start year 2-0

By Michael H. Babcock - DMG Sports Writer

ONTONAGON - The village of Ontonagon was ready to celebrate Friday night and the Ontonagon football team gave it a good reason to do so, completing a come-from-behind victory over the Baraga Vikings, 22-14.

Ontonagon started the game with a good run, but a couple mistakes put the ball in Baraga's hands and the one-two punch of Shane Maki and Kelly Shanahan made them pay.

Maki ran for 23 yards and then Shanahan ran for 19 to complete a three-play, 44-yard scoring drive that gave Baraga a quick 8-0 lead to start the game.

Neither team was able to find the end zone before the end of the half. However, Ontonagon coach Dave Linczeski and his team used the rest of the half to find an opportunity.

"At the end of the first half we thought they were a little bit gassed," Linczeski said. "We thought our guys had a little bit left and at halftime there were some things we could do to move the ball.

"We saw that we could run the weak side a little bit, and that was the main thing, the guys came in and pointed that out, they had a lot of influence in the play-calling in the second half."

It worked for the Gladiators, as they had 10 runs for 10 yards or more in the second half, including T.J. Huotari's 15-yard touchdown less than six minutes in.

Baraga countered as Shanahan found the end zone again, capitalizing with a 3-yard run after going for more than 30 on the previous play.

"We were moving the ball really well and the run was working, but it was turnovers that got us," Baraga coach Doug Hodges said.

In the fourth quarter the Vikings had a fumble, interception and a botched punt that all ended up hurting them.

A bad punt snap led to Ontonagon tying the game at 8:46 when Schmaus evaded pressure and lobbed the ball to a wide-open Cameron Menigoz. The Glads were unable to complete the point after and it was a 14-all game.

Things went from bad to worse for Baraga as both Maki and Shanahan battled through injuries, with Maki eventually being taken off on a stretcher with 6:57 remaining in the game.

Shortly after Huotari added his second touchdown of the game, Schmaus converted the 2-point attempt and Ontonagon was up 22-14.

"Turnovers killed us," said Hodges, still looking for his first win with the Purple and Gold. "We get a good drive going, get inside the 30 and fumble the ball.

"We didn't take them lightly, but we shot ourselves in the foot."

Hodges said the team will need to work on their intensity for next week's game against Bessemer.

"We were flat, we need to find a way to get intense and play some hard football, our boys haven't figured that out yet," Hodges said.

Hodges also complimented the Gladiators offense.

"The single wing is a quick-hit offense and they definitely have the speed in the backfield and we were expecting them to do it, but we just missed the tackles."

For Linczeski and the Gladiators, the win was more than just another game.

"It was a real boost for the community," Linczeski said. "They are really hurting from the rough times at the paper mill (Smurfit-Stone, which announced another shutdown this week). This gives the local fans something to be happy about."

Linczeski credited the crowd for helping his team stay energized, especially in the second half when the team scored all 22 of its points.

"I think our guys just realized they had it in them," he said. "They realized they could get the job done once we scored right away and from there on, the boys thought they had a chance."

Ontonagon will travel to L'Anse next weekend, while Baraga is at Bessemer.
The Daily Mining Gazette
P.O. Box 368
Houghton, MI 49931

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