Jets blitz Broncos, are playoff bound

POWERS – The North Central Jets simply were not going to be denied a second straight playoff appearance.

Rob Granquist threw for three touchdowns, Josh Granquist rushed for two more and the Jets put the pedal to the metal from the start, routing Bark River-Harris 40-12.

“You have to have six to qualify and they weren’t going to let anything stand in their way tonight,” said Jets coach Kevin Bellefeuil. “I think that might have been the best game we’ve played all year. Defensively we were solid, offensively the ball was flying around and when you can spread the field that way with the pass, the run game comes together.”

The Jets scored three touchdowns in the first quarter while stuffing the Broncos, who didn’t collect a first down until just over seven minutes remained in the second quarter.

The first play of the game was a 50-yard missile from Granquist to freshman receiver Jason Whitens. That drive culminated in a 10-yard run by Josh Granquist. After a quick three-and-out by the Broncos, Granquist hit Whitens again for 32 yards on an extremely athletic play. Whitens was covered well, but reached through the arms of the Broncos’ defender in midair to come down with the pass. Two plays later Devin Wodrazka ran it in from 24 yards out and the Jets led 14-0.

“They jumped on us from the first play,” lamented Broncos head coach Al Stenberg. “The Granquist kid just put the ball in perfect spots all night long. We had a few breakdowns in coverage but the majority of their long pass plays were perfect. We maybe had slightly less athletic guys covering, but our guys were in the right spots, we just couldn’t make plays.”

Stenberg said even the best gameplan wouldn’t have been able to stop Granquist tonight. The Jets quarterback was 12-for-26 passing for 182 yards, But the majority of the incompletions were drops or off the hands of a receiver. The ball was also wet due to sporadic showers.

“There’s not a whole lot you can do gameplan wise against a kid like that,” he said. “You put kids in position to make plays and they executed. You can’t fault them for that, you just hope you can get to him.

“I haven’t seen (Granquist) throw as well as he did tonight. In other games he threw some into the dirt, and tonight he just didn’t. He was right on the money.”

The Broncos finally got their run game working in the second quarter and embarked on a long drive beginning from their 28. The drive was interrupted on their own 37 yard line when Hunter Messersmith fumbled after a 20-yard catch and run. But the very next play, the Broncos got the ball back when Rob Granquist fumbled on a quarterback keeper.

Continuing the drive, Brian Latta got three straight handoffs into Jets territory and the drive culminated in a 36-yard pass from quarterback Jorden Sodergren to Matt Sundling.

“That’s a good Bark River football team,” said Bellefeuil. “That first quarter, things just went our way.”

Josh Granquist got plenty of action in the second and third quarters and rushed for 141 yards on 16 carries, including a 41-yard run in which he evaded multiple defenders on a spin move before tearing down the middle of the field. Granquist has more work ahead of him as he’ll be running in today’s U.P. Cross Country Finals in Harvey, but said he has plenty left in the tank.

“Oh yeah, I’m feeling great,” he said.

The Broncos (2-6) were led by Sodergren who was 3-for-13 passing for 73 yards and one touchdown. The Broncos were outgained 420-212 in total yardage.

For Stenberg it was a tough one to lose as he felt his team did everything they were supposed to do. Though the Broncos have won two games this season, their most in three years, Stenberg is far from content.

“Any coach that is satisfied with two wins is not going to be a very successful football coach, and I’m not satisfied,” he said. “I thought we’d be better record-wise.

“At the same time, the kids have gutted out every game. Last week (against Munising) was probably our worst on-field performance, but other than that, we’ve played really good football, even tonight. We just couldn’t make the plays.”

The Jets (6-2) are playoff bound, but still have more to accomplish. A win next week against Stephenson could secure a home playoff game for North Central, the first in school history.

“We’re going to fight hard as a team and hope for a home playoff game as a team,” said Josh Granquist.