Hornets up to No. 3 with one week left

HOUGHTON – L’Anse is up two spots to third in Division 8 in this week’s U.P. Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association football poll, the second-to-last of the season.

The Hornets scored an impressive win over Northland Pines in Eagle River, Wis. Friday, taking down the Eagles 35-13 for second place in the WestPAC.

Jimmy Veker scored twice in the first quarter to give the Hornets a 14-0 lead. Ryan LaBerge hit Jonny Magaraggia with an 11-yard touchdown pass early in the second to keep the ball rolling and the rout was on once Brandon Kemppainen busted a 59-yard run with 2:42 left in the half.

Northland Pines added a score just before the break, but Veker’s third TD of the game locked it up at 35-7 late in the third quarter.

L’Anse has 10 points in this week’s poll, behind unanimous No. 1 Forest Park.

The Trojans faced some resistance in their home finale before seeing off the Gogebic Miners 38-20. They’re 8-0 and can expect to host at least one playoff game, but they’ll have to beat Lake Linden-Hubbell at Warner Field Saturday to avoid creating a three-way tie with Hurley, Wis., and LL-H for the Great Western Conference title.

St. Ignace is No. 2 on all ballots after a 48-0 Week 8 rout of Pellston.

After L’Anse, there is a fourth-place tie between North Dickinson and North Central with nine points apiece.

The Jets booked their place in the postseason by putting away rival Bark River-Harris 40-12.

With one week of the regular season to play, it looks as if as many as 10 U.P. teams will be in the 32-team Division 8 bracket.

The most likely scenario for local teams involves L’Anse hosting a pre-district playoff game against one of three opponents: Gogebic, Lake Linden-Hubbell or North Dickinson.

Gogebic (5-3) would qualify automatically with a win Friday over 0-8 Ironwood. Lake Linden-Hubbell (5-3) faces a tall task in beating Forest Park, but has favorable odds for getting a ‘wild card’ spot as a 5-4 team.

If both get in, they’d relocate North Dickinson to a different district. If one doesn’t, North Dickinson would probably get the three seed and play L’Anse. If Gogebic and LL-H finish with the same record, the Lakes are more likely to have the higher seed, and thus, the trip to Meadowbrook Field. If LL-H doesn’t win Saturday, the most likely scenario sends them to Crystal Falls for a rematch with FP in six days time.

In the Division 1-7 poll, the teams remained in the same order as last week starting with Menominee, No. 1 on three of five ballots. The Maroons wiped out Milwaukee Madison/Custer 62-12 and will visit Marquette Friday for a chance at a perfect regular season, the fifth in school history and first since back-to-back undefeated state championship seasons in 2006 and 2007.

Ishpeming got the other two first-place votes. After a 46-7 whipping of Newberry Friday, the Hematites need only beat Gwinn (2-6) for sole possession of the Mid-Peninsula Conference championship and their second unbeaten season in modern history (all three of Ishpeming’s state championship teams had one loss).

Negaunee remains No. 3 after stopping rival Marquette 38-14 for the Diamond Jubilee Trophy.

West Iron is locked in at No. 4 after beating Hancock to clinch the WestPAC, while Marquette hangs in at No. 5.

As far as the playoff hunt is concerned, both West Iron and Ishpeming would have first-round home games against downstate opposition (most likely Mancelona and Traverse City St. Francis, respectively) in the Division 7 bracket, though if they were to meet in the district final, West Iron would likely have homefield advantage.

Negaunee is currently the only U.P. team in Division 6 in playoff projections at snooze2you.com, however Houghton (5-3) is not in the projection because it has a relatively low playoff point average and is not already qualified. If the Gremlins win the Copper Bowl to qualify automatically, they could go to Negaunee for the first round, but could also end up as far afield as downstate Boyne City. The Ramblers are currently projected as the first seed in the district, but must first win a road finale that decides its conference title at 7-1 Class B Grayling to protect their position.

This is, of course, assuming that Houghton ends up in Division 6. The divisions for all eight tournaments are determined by enrollment, and for the second week in a row, Houghton’s enrollment figure falls exactly between the smallest school projected for Division 5 and the largest in Division 6.

If Houghton were to end up in Division 5, a trip to Menominee is highly likely.

Menominee could also see a Great Northern Conference rematch with 6-2 Kingsford in the first round.

No U.P. teams are projected to land in Division 4, while Marquette will probably play a pre-district game against one of the two Midland schools in Division 2.

Sault Ste. Marie needs a win over Newberry in Week 9 to get in, where it would likely be slotted into D-3. The Blue Devils are in one of several ‘moment-of-truth’ games throughout the U.P. this weekend.

The following teams need a win in their finale to secure automatic qualification: Houghton (at Hancock), Munising (vs. L’Anse), Gogebic (at Ironwood), LL-H (vs. Forest Park) and Pickford (vs. Onaway).