Seven weeks down, two to go and the playoff picture is coming into focus. A handful of five and six win teams have punched their tickets to the postseason, including nearly every team in the UPSSA poll, released Tuesday. But for a few teams, work remains.
The No. 4-ranked North Central Jets (5-2) are one of those teams. Having a nine-game schedule, the Jets need to win one of their last two games to be assured a spot in the postseason. Bark River-Harris (2-5) and Stephenson (4-3) remain on the schedule. The Jets would like nothing more than to win both games and reach that elusive 7-2 record that may assure them a home playoff game, the first in school history. It won't come easy though. The Broncos have played better than their record and have pulled off victories over a winning Gwinn team earlier in the season and Stephenson. As Jets coach Kevin Bellefeuil said earlier in the season, "Anyone on our schedule is capable of beating us."
Moving up in the world in Week 7 were Big Five No. 4 West Iron County (7-0) and Little Five No. 5 L'Anse (6-1). The Wykons just keep rolling through their schedule and pulled off a legit 39-6 victory over Northland Pines. That was enough to boost them over idle No. 5 Marquette (5-1). The playoff bound Purple Hornets routed winless Calumet (0-7) 38-0 and were able to garner more votes than Gogebic (5-2). This marks the first time in school history L'Anse has made the postseason in consecutive years.
Arguably the game of the season in the Upper Peninsula took place in Week 7 as No. 2 Ishpeming (7-0), led by star running back Alex Briones, held off rival Negaunee (6-1) 28-24. Despite the close loss, the No. 3-ranked Miners, perhaps deservedly, did not fall in the poll.
This week, Marquette travels to take their shot at Negaunee. The Redmen are already playoff eligible with their eight game schedule, but will try for one more victory to boost their numbers. They play Menominee in Week 9. Munising (4-3) travels to face Stephenson where one team's playoff hopes will take a hit. The Mustangs have won four straight games after an 0-3 start.
No. 1 Menominee (3) (7-0)23
No. 2 Ishpeming (2) (7-0)22
No. 3 Negaunee (6-1)14
No. 4 West Iron County (7-0) 9
No. 5 Marquette (5-1) 7
No. 1 Forest Park (5) (7-0)25
No. 2 St. Ignace (6-1) 19
No. 3 North Dickinson (6-1)16
No. 4 North Central (5-2) 8
No. 5 L'Anse (6-1)5
Others receiving votes:?Gogebic (5-2), 2
No. 1 Rapid River (5) (7-0) 25
No. 2 Cedarville (6-1) 20
First-place votes follow team name. Voting conducted by five-member panel for the U.P. Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association