MENOMINEE - Block, tackle and wear down the will of your opponent.
Menominee (4-0) hammered Gladstone (2-2) with its running game and burned the Braves with its efficient passing attack in a 47-6 win in the Great Northern Conference opener for both teams at Walton Blesch Field Friday night.
Coach Joe Noha made a happy dash into a throng of celebrating Maroons after Menominee's fourth straight win.
"I don't know how to read this team," the coach said. "I didn't know if they would come out this excited or with this kind of energy."
Going toe-to-toe with Gladstone's physical style of play, the Maroons outrushed the Braves 126 to 31 while powering out to a 20-0 halftime lead.
A 32-yard pass from Sam Schewe to Jared Rivard, the only pass on Menominee's first series, set up a 1-yard TD run by James Brown. Evan Pohlman added the kick four minutes into the game.
Three plays after stuffing Gladstone with a three-and-out defensive stand, Schewe threaded the needle to beat the double-coverage on Devon Harris for a 24-yard scoring strike.
Gladstone had just five rushing yards after its first two possessions. The Braves drove down the Maroon 40 on their third series before Chris Briar slammed the ball loose and Colton Fernstrum pounced on the fumble.
Eight plays later, the Maroons were back in the end zone on a 22-yard run by Brown with five minutes left in the half. Justin Brilinski sealed off the edge with a block to spring Brilinski loose.
"They're a physical team and we matched that," said Noha. "We were balanced with our running game and passing game. Sam Schewe was awesome and our skill kids got out on the perimeter."
The Braves Riley Ballard was wide open with nothing but the Blesch grass in front of him, but Sam Pouliot's pass sailed over his head.
Pouliot connected with Jared Hunter on a 35-yard strike and went to the air again for a 10-yard toss to Blake Ballard. Pouliot continued to pick apart the Maroons with a 20-yard completion to Justin Jurek giving the Braves a first down at the 8.
On third down at the 9, Harris swiped a Pouliot pass in the end zone.
"We missed a number of opportunities in the first half," Gladstone coach Josh Mileski said. "As the game play changed, we probably passed a little more than we should have."
Brilinski intercepted a pass at the Maroon 40 on the Braves' opening drive of the second half.
Bryan Hines burned Gladstone with a 37-yard dash on a counter play, and Schewe cashed in through the air again with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Harris. Pohlmannn's kick hiked the lead to 27-0 midway through the third quarter.
The Menominee secondary added more larceny when Bryan Hines sniffed out a slant pass, jumped the route and returned an interception to the 19. Four plays later Brilinski followed Brown's blocking into the end zone and Pohlmann's PAT padded the lead to 39-0 with 3:43 left in the third quarter.
"Coach (Dave) Mathieu and (Drew) Buyarski had a nice game plan," said Noha. "They made some changes at halftime to shut down some of their swing pass stuff."
The ball-hawking Maroons added their fourth pick when Ryne Francour swiped a pass at the Maroon 35. Brilinski crushed a Gladstone tackler at the 22 and raced in for a 29-yard scoring jaunt.
Menominee was nine and a half minutes away from its first shutout in five years when Christian Tackman fielded a botched punt snap and rambled for a first down. Jurek sliced through the Maroons for a 60-yard dash to the Maroon 4 before being hauled down by Rivard. Vuksan bulled in from the 4.
A 22-yard run by Brilinski and 19-yard gain by Rivard set up a 2-yard TD run by Brown witgh 1:29 left in the game.
"The better team won, but we made them look better than they are," Mileski said. "We have a way to go to become a good football team. I have a lot of confidence we'll be fine the rest of the year."