Esky, Braves face rugged foes

Dennis Grall | Daily Press Two plays by the same two players at similar angles just minutes apart in the second quarter Friday made for a unique instant replay. In both plays, Tim Crittendon (3) of Petoskey broke up passes intended for Escanaba’s Jared Nash (25). The initial play, left, was along the Petoskey sideline just past midfield, the second play was in the end zone on the same sideline.

ESCANABA — The Escanaba Eskymos did not have much time to rest on some well-deserved laurels this week as they prepared for one of the state’s perennial powerhouses.

Esky (1-1) will host Detroit Loyola (2-0) at 2:30 Saturday as part of the Wall of Fame induction game. Esky edged Loyola 21-20 in the first meeting of the programs last year. Loyola is quite familiar with Ishpeming, a team it has met in the Division 7 state finals four times, with Ishpeming winning three times.

John Callahan, who led those outstanding teams, is back on the sidelines after taking last season off. “That is a huge plus for them,” said Escanaba coach Dave Howes, noting the Bulldogs “will be the fastest team we will see all year. We can’t let them get outside. They play assignment football and play a lot tougher than anything we’ve seen this year.”

Howes said the Bulldogs “keep things simple. They are big up front and they punch you in the mouth quick. They’re the real deal.”

The Bulldogs, who have beaten Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard and Detroit East Point, will offer a single-wing look and show a lot of power football, Howes said of the run-oriented team.

The Eskymos rallied late last week to stun Petoskey 15-14, and Howes said that has resulted in “a lot of good practices this weeks. Everyone is more upbeat. Being 1-1 is a lot better than being 0-2.”

Howes said some defensive adjustments enabled the Eskymos to keep Petoskey from expanding its 14-0 halftime lead that helped keep the game close for Crister Carne to shake off an opening kickoff injury and rip off a 57-yard touchdown run with 1:46 left to play.

Esky then won the game on quarterback Craig Kamin’s two-point conversion. Esky survived when Petoskey messed up the snap for a potential game-winning field goal with four seconds left, and the play ended up as an incomplete pass.

While that finish was pulsating, a trio of Esky players will not be able to rejoice with the team this weekend as Howes said three players will be sidelined for disciplinary reasons, one for Saturday and two for perhaps three-four games..

“That is very, very disappointing,” said Howes. “That is a huge blow, but you have to do the right things on and off the field.”

Several jayvees, who have two weeks off, have been elevated to the varsity and Howes said “our best kids will play. It is an open competition for the kids.”

The Eskymos will also induct six new members to the football Wall of Fame at halftime, with an open mixer at the Elks Club after the game that is open to the public. Inductees include former players Dick Allingham, the late Gregg Johnson, Jim Rogers, Jerry Rudden, Jay Wiles and former coach Paul Kangas.

Elsewhere tonight, Manistique resumes after a week off due to injuries that forced a forfeit loss, by hosting West Iron County, Gladstone goes to Menominee, Bark River-Harris visits Munising, Superior Central goes to Ontonagon and Rapid River hosts Carney-Nadeau.

Gladstone will play its first Great Northern Conference game since rejoining the fabled league after a one-year absence and will try to rebound from a 42-34 loss at Gaylord.

The Braves relied heavily on senior quarterback Jared Crow’s left arm as they tried to offset a defensive line that stacked their running game. Crow fired four touchdown passes and threw for about 400 yards.

Menominee has been struggling to start the season, starting with a 22-20 loss to arch-rival Marinette that snapped a string of 10 straight wins in that series, and then Kaukauna, Wis. whipped the Maroons 21-0 last week.

It was the first time Menominee had failed to score since 2009.

“We’re going to have to do some gut-check on blocking and moving people,” Menominee coach Joe Noha told the Marinette EagleHerald. “I thought our defense was very good tonight but offensively we did not do any good for our defensive unit.”

Keagan Monroe ran for 68 yards in 14 carries for Menominee.

“Our passing game needs a lot of work,” said Noha. “We’re getting pretty one-dimensional and we need to be two-dimensional if we want a shot at winning games.”