Prep football: Maroons dominate Braves with short field

GLADSTONE – Field position was favorable for the top-ranked Menominee Maroons most of Friday night as they handed the Gladstone Braves a 56-6 football loss.

An example of that took place on Menominee’s opening possession when it started on the Gladstone 39-yard line.

Senior running back James Brown finished that drive on a 3-yard run around right end, putting the Marooons up 7-0 less than three minutes into the Great Northern Conference affair.

The short drive was set up when Gladstone gambled on fourth down from its own 36 and came up a yard short.

“We told the kids we’re here to win and were trying to spark a little life into our offense,” said Braves’ coach Cody Kangas. “Since we were playing Menominee we felt we had nothing to lose. They’re a very good football team and they’ve shown that by their state titles (three) and playoff runs.”

The Maroons (4-0 and 1-0 GNC) hiked their advantage to 14-0 slightly more than three minutes later when senior Ryne Francour intercepted a pass Jared Hunter’s pass and returned it 41 yards for another score.

“Ryne did a nice job stretching for the end zone on that interception,” said Menominee coach Joe Noha. “One of our goals is to score a defensive touchdown in every game and when you can score on defense, it takes a lot of pressure off your offense. We talked about maintaing Maroon standards. The kids did a great job collectively taking care of their assignments. We just try to be consistent with what we do and be healthy for next week.”

Brown then broke through the middle on a 32-yard touchdown run, hiking Menominee’s cushion to 21-0 with three minutes, 37 seconds left in the opening stanza.

In the second frame, Brown added TD runs of 18 and two yards as the Maroons built their advantage to 35-0.

Menominee started its sixth possession on Gladstone’s 16 following a punt by Justin Jurek, which was partially blocked by juinor Mark Pulver.

The Maroons using the airways out of their single wing offense, scored again on a 10-yard pass from junior tailback/quarterback Justin Brilinski to senior Devon Barley for a 42-0 advantage with 3:31 left in the second quarter.

“The single wing is hard to prepare for in a week,” said Kangas. “You try to do it in practice and find out how hard it is to get our kids to do it. But then, how often do you see the triple option. Once we get everything down, other teams will have a hard time preparing for that in a week.”

Kickoff returns by junior Justin Vorachek to the Gladstone 30 and 35 set the Maroons up with their last two TDs.

Junior Colin Nerat scampered eight yards through the left side made it 49-0 just 1:55 into the third stanza and Barley’s one-yard run up the middle ended the scoring with 1:42 remaining in the third.

“Justin did a real good job on returns and our other guys did a nice job blocking for him,” said Noha. “Our special teams performed very well.”

The Braves gave the hometown fans something to cheer about midway through the third frame when senior QB Sam Pouliot lofted a 46-yard TD pass to senior running back Riley Ballard.

“That was a nice play,” said Kangas. “At halftime, we told the kids not to worry about the score. “We just started working on things for next week.”

Menominee outgained the Braves 248-203 in total offense. The Maroons rushed for 184 yards, with Brown gaining 70 on just five carries. Brilinski added 45 in four attempts.

Brown was 4-of-6 passing for 60 yards and a TD.

Gladstone (0-4 overall, 0-1 league) rushed for 167 yards, led by junior Tyler Wells, who carried 12 times for 43.

The Braves resume Friday when they travel to Marquette. The Maroons host Kingsford in a key GNC match-up Friday.