Friday, October 23, 2009

Conery Carries Load With 202 Yards And Four TD's

Conery Carries Load With 202 Yards And Four TD's Against Winless Marines
An obvious game plan heading into Saturday’s 103rd M & M Game for the Menominee Maroons would have been to pass all over Marinette’s inexperienced defense.

Marinette’s admitted weakness was, in fact, their pass coverage, and the Maroons had an ever-so-dangerous aerial combination in Keefer Conery and Erik Hines.

But after Marinette showed they were capable of putting together scoring drives, the Maroons had to try to keep the Marine offense off the field as well as move the ball on offense.

The result was a 314-yard rushing performance from the old-fashioned single wing offense and a 27-20 Menominee victory.

Menominee held the ball for 22 more plays than Marinette (72-50) and racked up a total of 407 yards.

Conery was a big part of the offense, but it wasn’t his arm.

The junior speedster carried the ball 33 times for 202 yards and scored all four of Menominee’s touchdowns.

Some of his runs were designed passes that turned into scrambles, and some were designed draws to deceive the defense.

Either way the ability to throw and the speed to hit the corner allowed Conery and the Maroons to control the tempo, the clock and eventually the ball game.

“They got success early on and we just couldn’t slow them down,” admitted Marinette coach Joel Hanner. “They just kind of teed off. We tried to move our kids a little bit but Menominee just came off (the ball) and took it to us.”

It was no easy task beating the winless Marines.

“We had to keep the ball because they were moving the ball well against us,” recalled Maroon coach Ken Hofer.

Marinette gained 295 yards on just 50 plays, a hefty 5.9-yard per play average.

When Menominee scored early in the first quarter, Marinette didn’t bat an eye and responded with a scoring drive.

The Marines held a 14-13 lead at the half and were up 20-19 halfway through the third quarter.

The game was as close as the final score indicates, if not even closer.

But Menominee, perhaps due to Marinette players fatiguing or maybe because of just an attitude of success this season, won a standstill of a fourth quarter and got back on the winning side in the classic.

Marinette, trailing 19-14 at the half, put together 13-play, 5:39 drive to take a 20-19 lead.

A couple of crucial penalties and a 4th-and-2 conversion kept Menominee’s drive alive, and the Maroons regained the lead with a 14-play drive of their own.

Marinette went three-and-out on their next possession and committed a pair of unnecessary personal foul penalties to set Menominee up with a short field.

The Maroons turned the ball over on downs deep in Marinette territory, but the Marines again shot themselves in the foot and never could get back into Menominee territory.

“Marinette’s not an 0-7 team,” Hofer said of the Marines, who fell to 0-8 on the year. “They are an 0-7 team because they made crucial errors that cost them a lot of opportunites.”

Marinette made their share of errors in the game, especially late in the first half.

After the Maroons had taken a 19-14 lead, Marinette was driving nicely, picking up 32 yards on six plays.

Facing a 3rd-and-7, Marine quarterback Cody Murphy faced a heavy blitz and fired an off-balance throw that was intercepted by (who else?) Conery in a diving effort.

Conery would give it back to the Marines after rolling out of the pocket and throwing one over Hines and right to Kyle Johnson, but two plays later Isaac Jones stripped Murphy and the Maroons recovered.

Both Marinette turnovers in the game came in a tight ball game in the second quarter inside the Menominee 30-yard line.

Four plays into the first quarter, the Maroons looked poised for a blowout victory.

Conery found Hines on second down for 11 yards to move the chains, and two plays later broke the arm tackles of the Marinette defense on his way to a 51-yard touchdown.

The kick failed but just 1:46 into the contest, the Maroons held a 6-0 lead.

It was put up or shut up time for the Marines, and they responded nicely.

Sophomore Kyle Keller, whose season has been mired by injury and illness, made his presence known in his first-ever M & M game.

He was a key part of Marinette’s 8-play, 2:39 drive that tied the game.

Fellow sophomore Matt Mayhew picked up 11 yards on first down and Keller followed with five.

A rare senior to senior combination followed as Murphy found Steve Oman for a 21-yard gain and another first down.

Murphy picked up five yards on the next play before Keller bounced off several tackles for a 24-yard gain.

With the ball at the Menominee 19, Keller bulldozed his way through more Maroon defenders to the Menominee 7.

Three yards later the Marines were facing a second-and-goal from the four and freshman Dakota Vanidestine got his first carry and punched it into the endzone.

The kick failed but just 4:27 into the M & M Game it was obvious defense was not going to be the main focus of either team.

Menominee put together another scoring drive despite committing a pair of false start penalties.

Tyler Uecke grabbed 11 yards on first down and got 12 more two plays later to move the Maroons near midfield.

Conery picked up two yards before a false start moved the Maroons back, and Uecke got four to set up 3rd-and-9 from the Menominee 49.

Conery went to the air and connected with Erik Gilbert for 19 yards, and the two would hook up on a 35-yarder later in the drive down to the Marine 2.

Conery needed two plays to get the remaining two yards, and Luke Vincent’s extra point made it 13-6 in favor of Menominee.

Before scoring from a yard away, Conery fumbled the ball out of the endzone but it was ruled he stepped out of bounds before losing the ball, and Menominee retained possession at the Marinette 1.

Marinette again wasted no time scoring and Menominee once more showed no ability to stop them.

On the drive’s first play, Murphy pitched to his right to Vanidestine, who stayed in the backfield and unleashed a pass to another sophomore in Calvin Michiels, who had gotten behind the defense.

Michiels ended up picking up 42 yards on the play down to the Menominee 19.

Keller got 15 yards over the next two plays, Vanidestine was stopped just short on first-and-goal from the four, and Murphy punched in despite being mobbed by the Maroon defense on a quarterback sneak.

Murphy threw a perfect fade route to the 6-3 Oman in the corner, and the senior tight end outjumped Menominee’s Jeff Martin (5-7) for the conversion and a 14-13 Marinette lead.

Menominee was able to move the ball once again but a holding call thwarted the drive and the Maroons were forced to punt.

Marinette was flagged (18 penalties were called in the game) for a chop block on the return and was forced to start from their own 10.

Vanidestine got 11 yards on first down, but three runs after that the Marines were punting.

Tanner Maccoux got pressure on Marinette’s Heath Rowe (who took a bit too long to get the kick off) on the punt and blocked it. The ball traveled just 10 yards on the block and Menominee had tremendous field position at the Marinette 35.

Conery picked up 10 yards on a tailback draw on the drive’s second play, and he gained just about nine yards on 3rd-and-9 to set up a 4th-and-1 from the Marine 15.

Uecke easily got the first as he gained seven yards and Marinette gave him half the distance to the goal on a personal foul call.

Conery scored three plays later from two yards out, his third score of the game.

Marinette sophomore Scott Eldredge picked off the conversion pass and Menominee held a 19-14 lead with 5:21 to play in the half.

All three of the game’s turnovers occurred over the next 3:29, and Menominee ran the clock out holding onto their lead.

Marinette fired just one pass on their 13-play scoring march to open the second half, and it didn’t come until a 3rd-and-7 from the Menominee 17.

It was a steady dose of running from the powerful young backfield, with a little Murphy sprinkled in.

Keller started the drive with runs of nine, three and three, before Murphy got four and Vanidestine got the first down on a three-yard run.

Keller’s 16-yard burst moved the Marines to the Menominee 35, before Vanidestine got eight yards and was barely tripped up by Conery, saving a score.

Keller got two yards on the next play before Murphy executed a quarterback sneak for five yards and a first down.

Keller was stuffed to gains of one and two before Murphy found Oman over the middle for a 15-yard gain.

Vanidestine scored from the two on the next play.

On the conversion, Marinette again tried to find Oman in the corner but Miller was in better position to bat the ball away.

Menominee took over with 6:21 to play in the quarter and burned 6:11 of it on their drive.

Conery got five on first down and Uecke got three the next play, but a questionable five-yard facemask penalty gave Menominee a first down.

Conery picked up another 20 yards on the next two plays, before Uecke got another first down with an eight-yard run.

Conery for four, Marinette gave them five by jumping on a hard count, and Uecke got five more the next play.

Mike Johnston saddled Conery for a two-yard loss on first down and Austin Belongia tripped him up for a four-yard loss on the next play, setting up a 3rd-and-16, but another offsides penalty and Conery’s nine-yard pass to Jacob Gerdt made it an attainable 4th-and-2.

Conery got five yards to easily pick up the first, and after two Uecke runs got nine yards, scored from three yards out.

He hooked up with Gerdt for the conversion pass to make it 27-20, and neither team scored from there.

Marinette’s next drive was quickly stalled. Mayhew got three yards, Jordan Miller deflected a pass near the line, and a fumbled snap netted a loss of three.

Menominee ate up over four minutes of clock and pinned the Marines deep, and despite an 18-yard gain by Murphy, the drive went nowhere.

Menominee’s final drive ate up 4:07 of the clock and the fatigued Marinette defense couldn’t get off the field.

“They had more people going both ways than we have,” Hofer recalled. “That might have helped us somewhat.”

Hanner doesn’t know if fatigue was the reason, but his defense’s inability to get off the field really hurt them late.

“We can’t stop a lot of people with our defensive line,” admitted Hanner. “They have a nice ball club, but we just can’t slow anybody down. It’s not a lack of effort. Any time you play freshmen or sophomores, you’re gonna have issues. (But) they are some of the better football players we have. We’re not very deep with depth or experience.”

It wasn’t the aerial attack much were expecting, but more of a smashmouth run attack for both teams.

“You had to have your chin straps strapped,” Hofer opined.

“A couple of times, I didn’t think somebody was gonna get up,” Hanner added.

Neither team was sharp in terms of discipline as both teams were flagged nine times for a total of 139 yards.

“The flag was really flying Saturday and both teams suffered from it,” Hofer recollected. “We always had to make more than ten yards.”

Marinette shored up their secondary but just didn’t have an answer for Conery and Uecke (22 carries for 99 yards).

“Our secondary did a pretty good job,” noted Hanner. “They tried to roll out the quarterback a few times and he either threw the ball away or ran for it.”

But with the success of the running game, Hanner said the Maroons “didn’t have to think twice about passing.”

Keller was very impressive in just his second game back from a lengthy absence due to mononucleosis.

“He’s still out of shape,” Hanner admitted. “Can you imagine him if he’s in shape and he’s been around for a while this season? You can see how we missed him.”

The now 0-8 Marines weren’t supposed to have much of a chance against a young but talented Maroon team that qualified for yet another playoff berth with Saturday’s win.

“They came out and played some inspired football,” Hanner said. “Even just watching last year’s game film helped their confidence. They left everything they had on the field.”

“It went about as we anticipated,” Hofer said of the battle the Marines gave his Menominee squad. “We felt it was going to be an extremely tough game because they had nothing to lose.”

The win makes Menominee 6-2 with a game to play, and it guarantees them a spot in Michigan’s playoffs that are set to begin next week.

“That was big,” Hofer admitted. “We aren’t going into the last game wondering if we are going to make the playoffs. That’s very important for the Maroons.”

Menominee plays down state at Kingsley Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m., and a win may get them a home playoff game.

“If we win this week I think we have a good opportunity to have a home game,” Hofer insighted. “It’s gonna be one of those situations. Who ends up with the most bonus points.”

It is back to the drawing board for Hanner and the youthful Marines, who will look to salvage their season by getting a victory over an up and down Hortonville (2-5) team at home Thursday night.

“They’ve had their ups and downs this year,” Hanner said of the Polar Bears, who use a rare zone-blocking scheme along the offensive line that isn’t seen much at the high school level. “So maybe we get some confidence (from Saturday’s game) and hopefully play a step higher.”

Peshtigo Times
841 Maple St
PO Box 187
Peshtigo, WI 54157


No comments: