LAKE LINDEN - After a lackluster performance a week ago against the Gogebic Miners, Lake Linden-Hubbell football coach Andy Crouch was looking for improvement when his team hosted Ontonagon Saturday afternoon.
Crouch got his wish in the form of a 38-0 Homecoming whitewash of the Gladiators, who were returning to action after a forfeit to Forest Park last week.
"I liked the way we played today," the LL-H skipper said. "We improved in the areas we had to improve in. And our defense did a much better job."
Ontonagon's Tony Soumis looks for a hole in the line during a rushing attempt at Lake Linden Saturday. (Paul Peterson photo)
The swarming Lakes defense limited Ontonagon to two first downs and a paltry 30 yards of total offense.
Ontonagon coach Dave Linczeski, while disappointed with the defeat on a rainy, windswept day at Warner Field, felt his team performed well enough in the first half.
"We kind of struggled with field position most of the day," he noted. "I thought we did a decent job on defense in the first half, but we sort of fell apart in the second half."
Ontonagon 0 0 0 0 - 0
LL-Hubbell 8 8 14 6 - 38
LL - Dupuis 20 pass from M. Kumpula (C. Kumpula run)
LL - Dupuis 5 run (Beauchamp run)
LL - Roose 48 run (C. Kumpula run)
LL - C. Kumpula 24 run (C. Kumpula run)
LL - Roose 6 run (run failed)
First downs: ON 2; LL 13; Rushing: ON 17-26; LL 54-332; Ind. rushing: ON, Soumis 15-22; LL, Rickard 15-92; C. Kumpula 5-72; Roose 3-61; Dupuis 9-43; Beauchamp 8-37; Passing: ON Soumis 2-8-0-5; LL M. Kumpula 2-8-0-38; Receiving: ON, NA; LL, Dupuis 1-20.
The outcome in the Great Western Conference clash left the Lakes with a 2-2 league mark and 3-2 overall. OAHS slipped to 0-4 in the league and 0-5 on the season.
The Lakes had little trouble moving the football, despite the elements. LL-H amassed 332 yards rushing, utilizing its full corral of small but speedy backs.
Senior tailback Beau Dupuis did his usual damage, accounting for 66 yards in total offense and scoring twice.
But he had plenty of help from Tylor Rickard, Tyler Roose, Cody Kumpula and Cole Beauchamp. Rickard had a game-best 92 yards rushing; Roose added 61 more and two touchdowns nd Kumpula chipped in 72 on the ground, a TD and three two-point conversions.
Dupuis gave his team an early lead when he caught a 20-yard scoring toss from quarterback Mitchell Kumpula early in the game. Cody Kumpula ran in the two-point coversiion to make it 8-0.
A Lakes drive was stopped at the Ontonagon 2 early in the second frame - one of three times the winners left points on the field in the first half.
But a short Ontonagon punt had them on the doorstep a short time later and and Dupuis cashed in with a 5-yard TD scamper. Beauchamp tacked on the PAT for a 16-0 reading.
The Blue and Gold drove to the Gladiators' 1-yard line with 1.3 seconds left in the first half, but a pass was tipped away.
"The thing you know about Lake Linden is that they are going to run the football, and they're going to play tough defense,' Linczeski said. "We couldn't handle them in the second half."
The Lakes erased any lingering doubts about the outcome by tallying touchdowns in their first two possessions of the second half.
Roose got the first score on a neat 48-yard jaunt, while Cody Kumpula scored on a 24-yard scamper.
Kumpula set up the second score by deflecting a Gladiator punt at the Ontonagon 30.
Roose scored on a 6-yard run early in the fourth frame to put a running clock into effect.
Tailback Tony Soumis represented the majority of what offense the Gladiators managed against the gang-tackling Lakes.
Crouch knows his team must avoid any letdowns if it wants to get to the playoffs.
"Hancock and Houghton aren't going to be easy games," he said of his next two foes. "Hancock has some huge linemen and Houghton is improving right along."
The Lakes will host Hancock next Saturday.
Ontonagon travels to Munising next Friday evening in a game Linczeski feels is winnable.
"I think both teams are struggling with inexperience ... and have some key injuries," he said. "If we can avoid mistakes, we have a shot."