Lakes return to U.P. football poll

HOUGHTON – For the first time this season, a local team has appeared in the U.P. Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association football poll.

Lake Linden-Hubbell (4-2) entered the poll at No. 5 this week. The Lakes, who were last ranked in the first poll (after Week 3) of the 2011 season, had been the only Division 8 team receiving votes when they beat Hancock Friday and passed Pickford, which got routed 42-6 by Mancelona.

The top four in the voting remain the same, though the order is now well sorted out.

Forest Park is now the undisputed No. 1 after overpowering No. 2 North Dickinson 43-20 at Dick Mettlach Field Friday.

The Trojans got 144 yards and three touchdowns from Lee Graff, including back-to-back scores in the last three minutes of the first half that put FP up 28-13.

FP is the unanimous No. 1, but the Nordics got passed by St. Ignace (4-1).

The Saints, who have 19 points, have five straight wins including a 49-7 rolling of Fife Lake Forest Area last week.

North Dickinson has 15 points.

North Central is fourth with 11 points. The Jets (5-1) downed Newberry 28-12 Friday and will travel to North Dickinson Friday to decide the Mid-Eastern Conference championship.

There was a change in the Division 1-7 poll as well, as Marquette earned itself a playoff spot and a spot in the top five by beating previously-ranked Kingsford.

Menominee and Ishpeming remain firmly fixed in the top two spots, neither receiving much of a challenge this week.

The Maroons clinched an 18th straight playoff berth by blanking Escanaba 44-0 Friday night, while Ishpeming overcame a scoreless first quarter to whip Crandon, Wis. 45-0.

Menominee still has three first-place votes and 23 poll points, while Ishpeming has two first-place votes and 22 points.

No. 3 Negaunee cruised past Norway 53-0 behind three touchdowns and 188 yards from Tyler Windahl.

The win sets up a clash of unbeatens Friday in Ishpeming between the No. 1 Hematites and No. 3 Miners. It was the Miners who gave the Hematites the only blemish on their record last season, winning last year’s matchup 20-8 in Negaunee.

Both teams have secured automatic playoff qualification, Ishpeming for the 12th straight year and Negaunee for the fifth year in the last six. The last MHSAA Playoffs to take place without either school was in 1996, when the field was half as big as it is now.

Marquette (5-1) vaulted into the No. 4 spot after an impressive home shutout of Kingsford Friday.

Marquette nursed a 7-0 lead after three quarters before putting the game away with 17 in the fourth. At 5-1 with an eight-game schedule, Marquette qualified for the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year under coach Mike L’Huillier. Marquette has only one other previous playoff appearance (2001) in school history.

The win was only Marquette’s second in 25 years over the Flivvers and marked the first time Kingsford had been shut out since Week 7 of 2009.

Marquette has nine poll points.

West Iron County continues to hold down the No. 5 spot with seven poll points. The Wykons, 6-0 for the first time in 39 years, face Northland Pines Saturday in Iron River. The winner will have sole possession of the WestPAC lead and clinch at least a tie for the championship with one league game remaining.