Jets soar, Glads fail to score in debut contest

POWERS – It took a while for North Central to get untracked in its football opener Thursday night.

The Jets, however, got a jump start from senior running back Josh Granquist in the second quarter as they broke away for a 48-0 triumph over the Ontonagon Gladiators.

Granquist collected 312 all-purpose yards in this non-conference outing, including a touchdown on an 85-yard punt return which gave the Jets a 14-0 lead with four minutes, 24 seconds left in the second.

“I think that was a back-breaker for them,” said Jets’ coach Kevin Bellefeuil. “They put up a pretty stout fight in the first quarter and into the second quarter, then Josh’s punt return seemed to take the wind out of their sails. Opposing teams often don’t get a good shot at Josh because he’s so shifty.”

Granquist also led the Jets in rushing with 184 yards on 14 carries. He gave North Central a 20-0 cushion with 2:09 left in the second stanza when he stuttered-stepped at the line of scrimmage and broke away on a 44-yard dash along the left sideline.

He also scored less than two minutes into the third frame when he juked through the Gladiator defense on a 55-yard sprint through the middle and a 34-0 advantage.

“He (Granquist) was the fastest guy on the field and he’s shifty,” said Ontonagon coach Dave Linczeski. “Once he gets a head of steam, he’s hard to stop. We’ll see a lot of other good running backs this season, but I’m not sure if we’ll see anybody as shifty as him.”

Junior quarterback Rob Granquist threw for two scores, including a 15-yard aerial to senior wide receiver Andrew Estrada for a 26-0 advantage 75 seconds before halftime.

Senior tight end Travis Vincent also caught a 12-yard pass from Rob Granquist early in the fourth quarter.

Freshman QB Jason Whitens then finished the scoring on a 23-yard keeper around right end in a reserve role with 2:02 left to play.

Rob Granquist finished 3-of-7 passing for 27 yards for the Jets, who finished with 271 in total offense.

“We didn’t throw a lot, but we threw effectively,” said Bellefeuil. “You can’t block 11 guys because somebody has the ball. We figured if they’re going to load the box, we were going to throw. They were trying to shift and confuse us. But once we got everybody on the same page, we were pretty good.”

Sophomore running back Brett Baird opened the scoring on an 8-yard run around left end. His TD was set up two plays earlier by an interception by Vincent, who returned the ball seven yards to the Ontonagon 19.

Senior linebacker Eric Prestay, who recovered a fumble, was among North Central’s defensive leaders.

The Gladiators, who had just 16 available players, ended with 119 yards. Senior Tony Suomis was 5-of-8 passing for 66.

“We’re expecting Tony to do some good things this year,” said Linczeski. “We were missing some players tonight and the guys we had got worn down. Plus, North Central is a very good team this year. I think a lot of teams are going to have a hard time with the Jets this year.”

North Central, which rushed for 244 yards, travels to Munising Sept. 6. The Gladiators host Eagle River, Wis. Northland Pines Sept. 6.