Menominee, Forest Park top first U.P. football poll

HOUGHTON – The first U.P. Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association football poll of the season is out and already, races are developing at the top to determine the peninsula’s best teams.

In the Division 1-7 grouping, Menominee edged out Ishpeming for the top spot in the opening poll.

The 3-0 Maroons have three first-place votes and 23 poll points, while Ishpeming has two first-place votes and 20 poll points.

Menominee walked past Antigo, Wis., and Milwaukee Riverside before defeating defending Division 8 (Michigan) state champion Harbor Beach 41-20 in a neutral-site game played at Gaylord Saturday. The Maroons also beat the Pirates in this matchup last year.

The Hematites, fresh off their third straight rout of a 2012 playoff team Friday night in Calumet, find the schedule getting easier in the middle third, starting with neighboring rival Westwood, which is 0-3.

Westwood got blown out 56-7 by the poll’s No. 3 team, Kingsford, last week. The Flivvers have tighter wins over two Wisconsin teams in the first two weeks. They’ll play winless Rhinelander this week before the annual showdown with Menominee in Week 5.

Marquette, at 3-0, is No. 4 with 12 points. They’ve knocked off Traverse City Central, Cheboygan and Sault Ste. Marie in the first three weeks. They have Great Northern Conference backmarkers Escanaba and Gladstone in back-to-back weeks before Kingsford in Week 6.

Negaunee (3-0) rounds out the top five after starting with wins over Manistique, Calumet and Gladstone.

In Division 8, Forest Park finished just ahead of North Dickinson in the voting.

The Trojans grabbed a signature win at Hurley, Wis., Friday, defeating the Midgets 31-14 to take the driver’s seat in the Great Western Conference.

FP spotted the Midgets an early 7-0 lead before scoring 31 straight points. Raymond Tomasik and Austin Snell ran for scores and quarterback Jeff Johnson threw for two more.

North Dickinson, meanwhile, escaped Munising with a 24-20 win after the Mustangs advanced to the Nordic 3-yard line inside the final minute before a fourth-down pass fell incomplete.

FP has three-first place votes and 23 poll points, while North Dickinson has two first-place votes and 22 poll points.

North Central is in third after the Jets’ first 3-0 start since 1998.

Lake Linden-Hubbell has all of the top four teams in the classification on its schedule, with the No. 4 Gogebic Miners visiting Saturday. Gogebic followed up its Week 1 OT win over Hancock by beating Rudyard and Baraga.

St. Ignace (2-1) is No. 5, bouncing back from a season-opening defeat to Charlevoix by beating Mancelona and Rudyard.

Pickford (2-1) also received two votes.

In eight-man, Rapid River got four of five first-place votes with Cedarville in second.