ESCANABA - Heading into the final week of the season, several teams have now clinched postseason berths while several more are hoping to clinch in their final opportunity.
For some, the task appears manageable, for others, the odds are stacked against them.
Escanaba (4-4) appears to have the toughest task as they host No. 1 Kingsford (7-1) in an all-or-nothing game. The Flivvers dispatched Gladstone (2-6) 49-28 in week eight as some chinks in their armor were exposed, but the Eskymos will need to play a nearly flawless game to win. At five wins, Escanaba, on the strength of their schedule, is believed to be a playoff team.
No. 5 Marquette (5-3) became playoff eligible by improbably knocking off No. 3 Negaunee (7-1) 34-26 in week eight. The Redmen do not have a game next week and meet the five-win requirement for an eight-game schedule.
Manistique (5-3) will be looking for their sixth win Friday when the Emeralds host Harbor Springs (3-5). The Rams are coming off a 19-7 loss to Charlevoix. A win for the Emeralds Friday, and they punch their playoff ticket for the first time since 2008, when a five-win Manistique team received a berth. That could happen again this year, but it is far from a certainty.
In Division-8, North Central (5-3) will be hunting down a win Friday as they are set to host No. 3 Stephenson (6-2) in what is likely the matchup of the week. The Jets last made the postseason in 2010 and could get in with five victories, but a win over the Eagles would assure a spot.
U.P. football poll
Kingsford (5) (7-1) 25
Menominee (7-1) 20
Negaunee (7-1) 12
Ishpeming (7-1) 9
Marquette (5-3) 8
Other:?Calumet (5-3) 1
North Dickinson (3) (8-0) 23
St. Ignace (2) (8-0) 22
Stephenson (6-2) 11
Gogebic (5-2) 10
Forest Park (6-2) 5
Other:?L'Anse (6-2) 2
Cedarville (5) (8-0) 25
Rapid River (7-1) 16
Poll is conducted by a five-member panel for the U.P. Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association. First place votes follow team name.
Other: Pickford (6-2) 2
Clinching this weekend with a surprising result, was No. 4 Gogebic. The Miners routed No.5 Forest Park (6-2) 46-15 on Saturday. It is the first playoff berth for Gogebic since 2006, when the school got in as Bessemer. The Miners host Ironwood (2-6) on Friday.
No. 1 North Dickinson (8-0) wrapped up the regular season undefeated Saturday as the Nordics routed Lake Linden-Hubbell (4-3) 48-16, dealing a blow to the Lakes' playoff hopes. The Lakes have one final chance to impress Friday as they travel to Forest Park. Being that LL-H play an eight-game schedule, a win over the Trojans gets them in.
No. 2 St. Ignace (8-0) will attempt to become the Upper Peninsula's second undefeated team on Friday when it hosts playoff-eligible Cheboygan (6-2).
The Saints blasted Pellston 61-0 (4-4) in week eight and have not had a margin of victory fewer than 33 points all season.
Also playing for an undefeated season is Eight-Man No. 1 Cedarville (8-0). The formidable Trojans clipped Bellaire (5-3) in week eight but blasted eight-man powers No. 2 Rapid River (7-1) and Superior Central (5-2) earlier in the season. Cedarville wraps up the regular season at Mid Peninsula (2-6) Friday.
Also looking for postseason spots this week are Iron Mountain (4-4) which travels to Norway (3-5), West Iron County (4-4) which hosts Bark River-Harris (1-7), Calumet (5-3) which goes to Gladstone on Thursday, and Sault Ste. Marie (4-3) which travels to Newberry (3-5).