Prep football: Ishpeming still No. 2 in U.P., No. 1 in statewide AP poll

MARQUETTE – Not much changed at the top with today’s release of the high school football polls conducted by the Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.

No. 1 Menominee (5-0) in the Big Five and No. 1 Forest Park (5-0) in the Little Five kept those spots after beating the third-ranked teams in their respective polls last weekend, while the vanquished dropped just one spot.

The Maroons slammed Great Northern Conference rival Kingsford (4-1) 42-13 on Friday, while the Trojans upended nonconference foe North Central (4-1) 35-8.

Marquette County claims three of the five teams following Menominee in the Big Five, led by No. 2 Ishpeming (5-0), which downed Mid-Peninsula Conference foe Norway 42-8 on Saturday. The Hematites trail Menominee for the top spot by just one vote for the second straight week.

Ishpeming also remains a unanimous No. 1 pick in the Associated Press state Division 7 poll. Three of the next five teams in the state balloting are schools the Hematites defeated in their playoff run to the state championship last season – Detroit Loyola at No. 2, Pewamo-Westphalia at No. 3 and Lake City at No. 6. All are also 5-0.

Negaunee (5-0) defeated Gwinn 41-6 on Friday and took advantage of Kingsford’s loss to move up to No. 3 in the Big Five. The Miners are also tied for sixth in the AP state Division 6 rankings.

The team that knocked Negaunee out of last year’s playoffs, Shelby, is also 5-0 and ranked 10th in the state.

With Kingsford in fourth and West Iron County (5-0) fifth in the Big Five, Marquette (4-1) also picked up two votes and is an honorable mention. While the Redmen are unranked in the state, the team it lost to in last year’s Division 2 playoffs, Midland, is 4-1 and ninth in the state Division 2 poll.

Several other UPSSA-ranked teams also made the state AP poll. In Division 5, Menominee is third and Kingsford 10th; in Division 7, WIC is 10th; and in Division 8, Little Five No. 2 North Dickinson (5-0) is fifth, Forest Park sixth and Little Five No. 3 St. Ignace (4-1) ninth.

In eight-man football, No. 1 Rapid River (5-0) and No. 2 Cedarville (5-0) held their spots after decisive victories, 46-22 for the Rockets over Engadine and 47-6 for the Trojans over Superior Central.

This week, all the 5-0 teams plus Marquette, which plays just eight games in the regular season, can all but clinch state playoff berths, since the MHSAA has never had to deny six-win teams – or five-win teams playing eight-game schedules – a berth since the playoff field was doubled in 1999.

On Friday, the Redmen host Kingsford, Ishpeming is at Crandon, Wis., and Negaunee entertains Norway.

Out of the area, the top two Little Five and eight-man teams square off, North Dickinson going to Forest Park and Cedarville hosting Rapid River in DeTour.