ESCANABA - Voters were split in the first U.P. football poll of the season, conducted by a five-member panel of the Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.
Kingsford (3-0) secured the top ranking after disposing of Rhinelander, Wis. 34-12 Friday night. But perhaps more significant than that victory, was the Flivvers 21-7 triumph over Cedar Grove-Belgium. The Rockets of Cedar Grove feature FCS recruit Alex Giles at running back. Giles ran for over 200 yards and four touchdowns against Escanaba (1-2) Saturday afternoon, but Kingsford's defense was able to keep the star back mostly in check.
The Flivvers, who received three first-place votes from the panel, host La Crosse Central, Wis. Friday. It will be Kingsford's third straight opponent from Wisconsin.
The other two first-place votes went to Ishpeming, which holds the third spot in the poll. Ishpeming (3-0) stifled Calumet (0-3) 23-6 Friday. The previous week the Hematites outgunned Manistique (1-2) 45-14. The Hematites most significant victory came in a week 1 thrashing of Iron Mountain (2-1). Ishpeming rolled in that game 34-0. The Hematites travel to Westwood (2-1) Friday, before hosting Norway (2-1) on Sept. 21.
Menominee (3-0), ranked second in the poll had their toughest opponent yet in Harbor Beach, in a game held at Gaylord. The Maroons didn't seem to have too tough of a time though, prevailing 45-26. The Maroons host Gladstone (2-1) Friday.
The other two Big Five teams had nailbiters of victories in week three. Negaunee (3-0) triumphed over Gladstone 36-34 in a big fourth quarter rally, while Marquette (3-0) won a tight defensive game against Sault High (1-2) 7-0.
U.P. Football poll
Kingsford (3) (3-0) 22
Menominee (3-0) 18
Ishpeming (2) (3-0) 17
Marquette (3-0) 12
Negaunee (3-0) 6
Forest Park (2) (3-0) 22
St. Ignace (2) (3-0) 20
North Dickinson (1) (3-0) 18
L'Anse (3-0) 8
Honorable Mention: Lake Linden-Hubbell (2-1) 1
Rapid River (5) (3-0) 25
Cedarville (3-0) 20
Poll is conducted by a five-member panel for the U.P. Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association. First place votes follow team name.
The Little Five was even more split. Forest Park (3-0) and St. Ignace (3-0) each received two first place votes while North Dickinson (3-0) received one. Forest Park edged Hurley, Wis. (2-1) 14-12 in a thrilling week three battle. The Trojans were boosted by an 84-yard interception return in the third quarter by Derek Aberly to seal the victory. The Trojans travel to Ontonagon (0-3) Friday before hosting North Central (2-1) on Sept. 21.
St. Ignace (3-0) was the beneficiary of a forfeit by Rudyard (0-2) in week three. The Saints will resume Friday as they host Indian River Inland Lakes.
North Dickinson (3-0) had a relatively easy time in week three, rolling over Munising (1-2) 48-6. In week two, the Nordics dispatched Newberry (2-1) 42-6 and in a nearly identical week one score, the Nordics dispatched Florence 41-6.
Stephenson (2-1) should provide the toughest test yet for North Dickinson on Friday, but a week six matchup against Forest Park looms as one of the highlight's of the season schedule for both teams.
Also cracking the rankings was L'Anse (3-0). Although the Purple Hornets have played one of the weakest schedules in the U.P. thus far, with victories over Ontanagon, West Iron County (0-3) and Houghton (0-3) this season, they can't be faulted for winning. In fact L'Anse likely won't play an opponent with a winning or even record until week six when the Purple Hornets travel to Ironwood (2-1) or week eight when they host Northland Pines (3-0).
Voters were split on rounding out the Little Five was Stephenson (2-1), Norway (2-1) and Pickford (3-0) each received votes.
Though Stephenson lost a close 14-8 game to Norway in week three, and the Knights played solid in a 35-22 week two loss to Forest Park, Pickford has gone undefeated thus far and hasn't had much trouble doing it, though they have yet to play a U.P. or Mid-Eastern Conference opponent. That won't change in week four, as the Panthers will travel downstate to Rogers City, nor in week five when Pickford hosts downstate Pellston. However, after a week six bye, the Panthers will host perennial power St. Ignace.
Rapid River was unamionously selected as the top eight-man team after winning decisively in weeks one and two and being the beneficiary of a week three forfeit by Stockbridge, Wis.
The Rockets host Brimley (0-3) Friday before hosting Engadine (2-1) on Sept. 21.