MHSAA Division 8 football pre-district: North Central eliminates Munising 35-21

POWERS – North Central picked up its first postseason win in school history on Friday night in a 35-21 victory over Munising in an MHSAA Division 8 Pre-District game in Powers.

“We had a double overtime game we played against Rudyard a couple years ago and that was a heart pounder, but this was the same thing tonight,” said Jets head coach Kevin Bellefeuil.

“Bobby Kleiman made some huge plays, Andy Estrada, Devin Wodrazka, the offensive and defensive lines, Zach Ryan picking up that screen pass, it was a heck of a job by those kids.”

North Central soared out of the gates with two first quarter scores and a 14-0 lead. Munising struck back quickly, tying the game at 14-14, but the Jets refueled with two more scores, one off a turnover to take a 28-14 lead into the half.

Rob Granquist threw touchdown passes of 11, 9, 18 and 3 yards with two of them going to his cousin Jason Whitens. The 6-foot-4 freshman receiver had five catches for 61 yards.

Granquist finished 15-for-28 for 201 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.

Austin Kelto rushed 21 times for 161 yards and a touchdown to lead Munising, which won six-straight games to reach the playoffs.

“They have maybe the most dynamic player in the conference in Kelto,” said Bellefeuil. “He’s slippery, he’s fast, he can throw it.

“I wish he was a senior.”

The Jets held Mustangs receiver Andy Cooper to one big catch of 33 yards. Kelto completed just 2-of-12 passes and was constantly harassed by North Central’s Eric Prestay and Travis Vincent, who combined for three sacks.

Prestay also forced two fumbles, living up to his recent All-U.P. Defensive Player of the Year award.

“We forced them into a position where they had to throw the ball, and they like to throw as a byproduct of their run, not as their defense and we forced them into that,” said Bellefeuil.

Munising head coach Jeff Seaberg said that Prestay was the difference in the game, causing multiple turnovers.

“He’s a heck of a ballplayer and he’ll carry them a long ways. He’s the heart of that defense as far as we’re concerned,” Seaberg said. “He was tough against us the first time, and the second time. He played his tail off. Credit to them, I won’t take anything away, they came ready to fight.”

Seaberg lamented the four turnovers by his team, which included two interceptions and two lost fumbles.

“We had some unfortunate turnovers that you can’t spot a team like North Central and expect to win,” Seaberg said. “We came out on the short end.”

“But our kids did not stop fighting. Tonight we were down by 14 and that’s the most we’ve trailed by all season. They have unbelievable character as young as they are – we only start two seniors. We’ll have quite a crew returning next year.”

The Jets (8-2) are now off to North Dickinson (7-2) next week to play for a district title.