Maroons Rout Sault,
Honor Repeat Champs
At Walton Blesch Field Friday night, the Menominee Maroons took time to honor members of the 2006-2007 back-to-back state championship teams. As radio calls from the 2006 and 2007 seasons echoed throughout the field, Maroon fans remember the legendary consecutive seasons. The honorary night would not have been the same without three-time state champion coach Ken Hofer. Coach Hofer thanked a countless number of people including the players, fans, staff and more.
An inspired Menominee team received the looked great on their opening drive. Ethan Mileski found a wide open Marcus McKenney for a big 45-yard gain before Josh Hanson scored on a run from three yards out giving the Maroons a 7-0 lead.
However, the Sault St. Marie Blue Devils looked to play spoiler. It took the Blue Devils just five plays to respond, thanks in part to a 42 yard run by Ryan Jones. Sault quarterback Ryley Alaspa tossed a 14-yard touchdown to Dalton Peyton and after the two connected again on the two-point conversion, the Maroons found themselves in an 8-7 hole.
"Give the Sault credit, we knew they had skill people and they got it going early. We had a few breakdowns and they took advantage of it, before you knew it we were down 8-7. There's nothing given to you, you have to play hard every game and we're learning that," said Maroon Head Coach Joe Noha.
After Menominee and the Sault were each forced to punt, Hanson found pay dirt once again. This time, Hanson took the ball 25 yards for the Maroons TD, after the extra point Menominee led 14-8 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Menominee seemed to get back to Maroon football. Menominee forced a Sault fumble and the Maroon recovery set up an 11-yard TD run by Sam Larson, extending the lead to 21-8. Shortly after, Mileski picked off a Blue Devil throw and returned it all the way to the 20-yard line. Three plays later, Larson punched in his second touchdown, this time from 5 yards out and the Maroons were rolling, 28-8.
Menominee forced the Sault into another punt and Mileski quickly made them pay. The fleet-footed Mileski returned the ball 45 yards before finally being tackled at the 19-yardline. Another short field turned into yet another short drive for Menominee. Three plays into the drive Mileski found a wide open Tanner Mathias for a 15-yard touchdown that pushed the lead to 35-8 at the half.
"We try to have five guys carry 20 percent of the load that way we are tougher to defend. We have guys that can really carry, catch and throw the ball so tonight kind of proved that." Noha added, "Other than the first series I think our defense shut them down pretty good as well."
The second half was all Maroons. As the Blue Devils were forced to punt, Hunter Hass let the ball bounce twice before grabbing it and returning it all the way to the 14-yard line. On the first offensive play of the half, Hass scored on a 14-yard run pushing the lead to 42-8.
Just over a minute later, McKenney broke loose and went untouched on a 55-yard TD run. Later another McKenney run, this one from 22 yards out, would push the lead to 56-8.
McKenney's 73 yards on six carries led the Maroons on the ground while it was Mileski who went 6 for 8 for 100 yards through the air.
Menominee won the game in convincing fashion, 56-8, helping to honor the 2006 and 2007 teams that often saw scores in a similar lopsided manner.
"We talked about the gritty bunch of '06-'07 kids. Not only are they great players, hard-working, character, honorable guys they just did it the right way. To win back-to-back championships undefeated the way they did, it's just really hard to do. Our kids know what hard work is about and those groups have paved the way for us to hopefully carry the torch and to honor those guys. Hopefully we can continue to win and honor them that way," said Noha of the importance of the night.
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