THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
Menominee Opens Playoffs with Dominating Victory
In the first round of the MHSAA Division 5 playoffs Friday night, Menominee played host to Kalkaska. The Maroons were forced to use an unorthodox style through the air since the Blazers did a great job against the run. No matter, Keifer Rasner was ready for the call, completing 12 of his 18 passes that went for 154 yards and a touchdown. Menominee won 41-13, advancing to take on Grayling.
It didn't take long for the Maroons' offense to strike, Rasner found Hunter Hass for a 30-yard pitch-and-catch giving Menominee a quick 7-0 lead. Following the touchdown, a perfectly placed kick by Shawn Sandahl allowed enough time for Christian Suchan to recover the ball for the Maroons. Just five plays later, Sam Larson punched in a 3-yard touchdown run giving Menominee a 14-0 lead.
"It's important to get a lead early, it helps build confidence and gets you going. But, Kalkaska didn't go away, they kept fighting back and credit to them. On the road, traveling isn't easy but they really fought hard," Menominee Head Coach Joe Noha said.
Kalkaska finally ran their first offensive play at the 6:22 mark in the first quarter. After converting one fourth and five, on the ninth play of the drive the Blazers were faced with another fourth and four. This time, Menominee stuffed the attempt and Kalkaska turned the ball over on downs. On the fifth play of the drive, Hass caught the ball and attempted a hook-and-ladder to Larson, the ball was fumbled and the Blazers recovered.
In the second quarter, Kalkaska made the Maroons pay for the turnover as Hunter Suydam found Nolan Mitchell for a 45-yard gain before Mitchell ran in a 1-yard touchdown. This cut the lead in half, 14-7 Maroons.
It didn't take long for Menominee's response. The Maroons put together an eight-play drive that was capped off by a Rasner 21-yard jaunt into the end zone, regaining Menominee a 14-point advantage.
Kalkaska looked as though they had found their stride on offense. The Blazers put together a 15-play 72-yard drive in rebuttal to Menominee's score. On the drive, Kalkaska converted two fourth downs but could not convert when they needed it the most. On fourth and goal from the 3-yardline, the Maroons defense came up with a clutch stop forcing a turnover on downs with 3:09 left in the half.
"That was big, it was 21-7 at half. We're used to scoring in bunches and Kalkaska did a good job of their game plan which was not led us run the ball. Keifer [Rasner] did a nice job of dinking and dunking, even with Ethan [Mileski] out which forced us to change the game plan a little bit," Noha said of the defensive stop.
Both teams were stuffed on their final possessions of the half and Menominee took their 21-7 lead into halftime.
After two Kalkaska turnovers, including an interception and a turnover on downs, Menominee took advantage. On their second possession of the half, Rasner found a streaking Marcus McKenney for a 33-yard touchdown pass with 4:16 left in the third. The quarter would end by the score, 27-7.
In the fourth, Menominee's two touchdowns sealed the victory. Both touchdowns came from bruising back Sam Larson as Menominee went up 41-7. Kalkaska scored a late touchdown to make the final score 41-13.
"Credit Kalkaska, they were physical tonight and didn't go away easy. They crowded the line of scrimmage and gave us the pass. We threw the ball relatively well, dropped a couple real easy ones." Coach Noha added, "That's how post season games go, everyone deserves the right to be here. If you get here, you've earned it. We felt like they were definitely a tough contest in the opener, but we're moved on, 1-0 and that's all that matters. Playoff football, sometimes you win ugly. There are momentum switches a lot and I thought our kids sustained them pretty well. I am proud of them."