By BURT ANGELI
NORWAY - Norway faced the inevitable Saturday.
Burt Angeli/The Daily News Photo
Norway’s Cody Schwamlien (77) takes down Ishpeming’s Nate Meyer (40) in Saturday’s Mid-Peninsula Conference football game at Norway’s Ronberg Field. Knights’ Jake Rehn (79) and Andrew Carlson (66) close in on the play. The Hematites posted a 42-8 victory.
Defending state champion Ishpeming arrived at Ronberg Field with a perfect record and the No. 1 ranking in a Division 7 state football poll. It didn't help that Norway had several players injured.
"They're the real deal," said Norway Coach Bob Madigan after Ishpeming dispatched the Knights 42-8 in Mid-Peninsula Conference football. "They're ranked number one in the state for a reason.
"The kids came out and played hard, but we were overmatched."
Quarterback Alex Briones accounted for three scores to lead Ishpeming. Briones threw first-quarter touchdown passes to Tyrus Millimaki (32 yards) and Marcus Antilla (36). The senior also ran the option for a three-yard score to give the Hematites a 36-0 halftime lead.
"That's a class program,"Madigan said. "I'd love Norway to be there. It's going to take a lot of hard work, dedication and numbers."
Both coaches agreed to a running clock in the first half if things got out of hand. That happened when the Hematites rolled to a 30-0 lead in the first quarter.
"We did look good and that usually doesn't happen on a Saturday afternoon here (at Norway)," Ishpeming Coach Jeff Olson said. "We've had some tough losses with some good teams here. Norway always plays great on a Saturday afternoon.
"I was happy that our kids, right from the get go, were ready to play. They did a lot of things well."
The Hematites added two touchdown runs from Bobby Zhulkie. The senior back also intercepted a pass.
Olson credited a "a three-year quarterback, a good quarterback with a big arm" and a variety of targets.
"He (Briones, 6-foot-2, 215)) can make those passes and we have four or five guys that can catch the ball," Olson said. "We can spread it around. It's tough to key on any of our guys or any one aspect of us. I like our versatility."
Ishpeming (5-0 overall, 4-0 MPC) tallied nearly 400 yards total offense while Norway had less than 50.
The shorthanded Knights had some fun in the lopsided contest, running flea-flicker plays and moving players to different positions. Lineman Cody Schwamlien saw time in the secondary.
"We knew the game we were in and we were missing several players," Madigan said. "We tried some different things. The kids enjoyed it and bought into it. It's the best we could do with what we had."
Norway cracked the scoreboard in the game's final minute as Taylor Bonetti found his brother Garrett Bonetti for a 25-yard scoring pass. Taylor Bonetti also ran for two points.
Knights' Zavier Gonzalez opened the second half with a 79-yard kick return to the Ishpeming 14. But that series fizzled at the 10.
"You try to find some good things," Madigan said. "Norway football got better today. I know the score didn't show it but we learned some things.
"I think we're going to be better next week and better after that."
Norway (2-3, 1-1) meets another unbeaten team Friday with a trip to Negaunee.
"I don't know if we're setting some sort of record but every team we play hasn't lost," quipped Madigan, noting Northern Elite and Forest Park have also yet to lose. "We have a tough schedule and that's the way it is. You better strap it up, get ready and do what you can do.
"I'd rather play the best team in the team in the state than the worst."
Ishpeming 30 6 0 6 - 42
Norway 0 0 0 8 - 8
I - Tyrus Millimaki 32 pass from Alex Briones (Bobby Zhulkie run), 10:02.
I - Zhulkie 5 run (Derek DeCaire from Briones), 7:56.
I - Marcus Antilla 36 pass from Briones (Zhulkie run), 5:32.
I - Zhulkie 8 run (pass failed), 1:48.
I - Briones 3 run (kick failed), 7:42.
I - Nate Meyer 1 run (run failed), 1:55.
N - Garrett Bonetti 25 pass from Taylor Bonetti (Taylor Bonetti run), 31 seconds.