By RON DEUTER
FELCH - Two teams coming off two vastly different pre-district playoff wins meet for a MHSAA Class D district title Friday night at James D. Priestap Memorial Field at 6 p.m.
Theresa Peterson/The Daily News Photo
North Dickinson’s Tim Hruska (28) leaves the Gogebic Miners in his rearview mirror during last week’s pre-district game. Hruska rushed for 176 yards and one touchdown in the 50-20 win.
The Nordics, a perfect 9-0, coasted to an easy 50-20 win over Gogebic after leading by just a touchdown at the half - turning a potentially tight game into another dominant Nordic performance in which the offensive yards totaled up faster than the digital display on a gas pump.
L'Anse (8-2), meanwhile, survived a turnover-filled, back-and-forth battle with Forest Park for a 34-28 victory. Junior quarterback Jacob Ostermeyer threw a game-winning 32-yard touchdown pass to junior Jonny Magaraggia with 41 seconds left in the fourth quarter for the Purple Hornets after the teams exchanged the lead five times and combined for nine turnovers.
What's there to expect this week?
"That's hard to say," Nordics coach Joe Reddinger said. "They seem to have a lot of momentum right now. There's a lot of enthusiasm and excitement up there. It makes them a little scary."
L'Anse finished third in the challenging West PAC conference this season, its only two losses coming to the two team that finished ahead in the standings, Calumet and Northland Pines. Aside from the two losses in which L'Anse was held to six and 24 points, the Purple Hornets have not scored fewer than 34 points in other any other contest.
Two Purple Hornets made the All-U.P. small school first team. Junior Jimmy Veker made it at end, and senior Cody Goldsworthy was selected at linebacker. Guard Keith Demomie was a special mention.
"Looking at the film, they're big," Reddinger said. "Their backs are big, and they don't seem to make a lot of mistakes.
"They just look solid."
Reddinger said the key for North Dickinson is for the Nordics not put any added pressure on themselves, which tends to lead to mistakes or turnovers.
"We're going to have to play our game and not make mistakes," he said. "The way we're approaching this game is to play with confidence."
The Nordics game last week produced 594 yards rushing. Dominic Christian led with 190 on 18 carries, while Tim Hruska produced another 176.
L'Anse, in the postseason for the first time since 2007, racked up 339 yards on the ground last week, with Goldsworthy totaling 136 and Veker adding 116. Veker scored twice, once on a run and once on a short pass. Goldsworthy had a 41-yard rushing tally. The Hornets threw for 66 yards in the win, with the big one coming at the end.
"They like to mesh things up," Reddinger said. "They'll throw the ball as much as they need to. Hopefully we can guess right."
The Nordics and Hornets shared two common opponents during the season. Both beat Forest Park and Munising. L'Anse earned a 47-6 win over the Mustangs in the final week of the regular season, while the Nordics pounded Munising 48-6 in Week 3.
L'Anse and North Dickinson have not met since Week 2 of the 2005 regular season, a game in which the Nordics won 36-12. That game marked the end of a six-year run in which the Nordics and Hornets met each season. North Dickinson won all six games. The teams have never met in the postseason.
North Dickinson, hosting a second playoff game this postseason, has gone 3-1 in its last four home playoff games dating back to 2010.
"We're excited to be hosting, and hopefully that'll help," Reddinger said.
"It is going to be a tough task for us, we know North Dickinson is very good," L'Anse head coach Mark Leaf told the Mining Gazette. "But we are going to prepare the best we can and give it all we got."