Jets face big showdown
Esky, Braves confront quarterback injuries
ESCANABA — Injuries to starting quarterbacks has been a major concern at Escanaba and Gladstone this week.
Jared Crow of Gladstone was drilled against Maple City Glen Lake last week and missed the end of the game. Escanaba’s Craig Kamin was likewise belted to the ground but only missed one series before returning.
The status on both players is still up in the air, although both are likely to play Friday when Gladstone goes to Sault Ste. Marie and Escanaba hosts Menominee.
Perhaps the most important game on this week’s schedule is Friday when North Central (4-1) visits Crystal Falls Forest Park (3-2) in a game pitting the last two eight-player state champions. Forest Park is the defending titlist while North Central won titles in 2015 and 2016.
Elsewhere Friday, Rapid River goes to Rudyard. Saturday, Ontonagon faces Carney-Nadeau at Powers and Engadine visits Superior Central in a game that carries a lot of postseason weight for both teams.
Escanaba coach Dave Howes said Kamin has not practiced a lot this week to allow him to rest after he sustained a knee injury on a normal tackle along the sideline. He had also been hampered by an earlier hip injury.
“We’ll try to get him as healthy as we can. He got a little scared, I think,” Howes said of the injury that elicited a painful response from Kamin. “He got the proper treatment right away.”
Jamie Silverstone, who replaced Kamin for that one series, and Josh Bruntjens are potential replacements. “We’ll see what Menominee does defensively,” Howes said, referring to the fact each player presents different approaches.
Christer Carne, who missed last week’s 20-13 victory over Schofield, Wis. D.C. Everest with an MCL knee injury, will play Friday. With Kamin hobbled and Carne sidelined, Howes said “we were pretty limited on offense.”
Receiver Austin Willette, who had been out with an elbow injury, returned to action last week.
Menominee halted a season-opening four-game losing skid by thrashing Southern Door, Wis. 57-32 last week. “They are getting healthy at the right time,” said Howes. “Their record is deceiving. They’ve had the turnover bug and the injury bug has hit them.”
Brendon Harris ran for 133 yards and a touchdown and passed for 133 yards and two TDs for the Maroons, and William Burnett ran for 177 yards and three scores.
“Brendon is getting more confidence in his throwing game,” Menominee coach Joe Noha told the Marinette EagleHerald. “We’re going to keep trying to put him in good situations where we have success. …”
Howes, who would like to see Esky use ball control and time of possession, said the Maroons continue to be proficient in their single-wing offense. “They do the same stuff, they do run it very well,” he said.
Howes is not concerned that homecoming festivities will bother his players. “We telll them to take care of things in practice, focus when at the field and get things done there. Outside of practice have fun,” he said.
At Gladstone last week, Crow “did get a little banged up,” is the way coach Jeff Hansen described the play that knocked him out of the game.
“Technically it was roughing the passer but it was not so far out of bounds that it was a dirty play or a dirty player. He got there late and drove him into the ground,” he said, noting the Laker defender “was very, very apologetic after the play. I don’t think it was an intentional act to hurt our player. It was a foul, yeah.”
Crow has had several medical follow-ups and is progressing. “He is day-to-day. If he keeps on improving, he will play,” said Hansen, indicating medical people have looked at his ribs and for concussion symptoms. “It looks like he will be clear to play.”
If Crow is sidelined, Drake Forest will take his place. “Drake has been getting a couple of series a game. We want to get him some live-fire action. He’s a different look, a different style athlete,” said Hansen.
“Our offensive scheme and balanced attack is not going to change.
“The biggest thing missing if Jared is not able to go is his leadership on the field. He is the field general.”
The Blue Devils (3-2) run a wing-T offense similar to what has been successful for Kingsford, with play-action flood passes that force the defense to play solid and handle their assignments. “They are very, very run heavy,” he said. “That is what the wing-T is engineered to do. We have to play good first-down defense. If you put teams in third-and-long it shrinks the playbook.”
Senior Tate Kay is pretty much Sault’s offense. He has run for 598 yards in four games and has five TDs and also does some passing. Freshman Jakob Davie is the starting quarterback for the Blue Devils, who have a solid defense.
North Central has the wide open attack while Forest Park has not changed its’ offensive approach in a couple of centuries probably. “They like to control the clock, control possession time, they want to wear you down and they have just enough passing plays to keep you guessing,” said first-year North Central coach Leo Gorzinski. “They like to run down hill. You have to pack a lunch and be ready to play physical.”
CJ Post and Tommy Peltoma are the prime offensive ball carriers, with Gorzinski noting “most of the stuff goes through Peltoma. You have to stop them on their early downs. If they cross mid-field their philosophy is go for three-four yards (at a crack).
“You have to get on them early and hope our athletes score points. We have a little more athletes and speed-wise and a number of kids who are threats. We have quick strike ability. They like to bring (defensive) pressure.”
The key question for the Jets is the availability of running back Noah Gorzinski, who twisted an ankle at North Dickinson last week. Brady Eichmeier replaced him and would do the same Friday.
Coach Gorzinski said he has gotten good production from linemen Caleb Walters and Dalton Hanchek.