HOUGHTON - L'Anse is already in the postseason, but has a chance to win a share of the WestPAC championship for both itself and Calumet if it can beat Northland Pines tonight at Meadowbrook Field.
If they win, the Eagles take the WestPAC outright in their third season in the league. If they don't, L'Anse will have its first conference title since it shared with Stephenson in 2007.
Austin Ramesh hasn't slowed down much. The University of Wisconsin-Madison recruit ran for a season-low 126 yards and scored only twice last week against West Iron County. Through seven games, he has 1,380 yards, averaging 10.6 yards per carry, and 16 touchdowns.
Calumet, meanwhile, hits the road to face an Ironwood squad officially out of the playoff chase after last week's loss at Hancock, but still capable of a giant-killing. The Red Devils took L'Anse to overtime two weeks ago, then lost by one point at Hancock. If Calumet takes care of business and gets the help it needs, the Kings would regain at least part of the league title it lost last year to West Iron County.
The Copper Kings have won four in a row and have won every regular-season meeting between the two since 2000, including a 14-0 decision in brutal conditions at Agassiz Field last year.
It's October and there are a lot of high school football teams on their last strike as far as the Michigan High School Athletic Association playoffs are concerned.
Tonight's match-up at McAfee Field pits two of them: West Iron County and Hancock. Both teams are 3-4, which means they have a flicker of hope to qualify as an at-large team with a 5-4 record if they can get by their Week 8 encounter tonight.
In the MHSAA's playoff system, all teams with six wins (or five-win teams playing eight games or less) are automatic qualifiers. The remaining spots go to 5-4 teams (or 4-4 teams with eight-game schedules), of which there were 22 in last year's field. The four-loss teams are then organized by playoff point average (which measures strength of victory) and equal numbers of at-large berths are given out to teams in Classes A through D.
Hancock's path is complicated by the fact that, by virtue of its co-operative agreement, it must compete with Class B teams for those spots, but it has to win tonight and in next week's Copper Bowl at Houghton for that to be an issue. West Iron, whose roster has been severely hampered by injury, has lost its last two to Calumet and Northland Pines.
Lake Linden-Hubbell hopes to remain in line for six wins and an automatic berth, but the Lakes face a tough road to that with a Saturday (1:30 p.m.) home game against North Dickinson, the U.P.'s No. 1 Division 8 team. The Nordics, playing their regular season finale, have scored at least 40 points in every game this season. Their closest contest was a 55-30 Week 4 win over Stephenson.
The Lakes, meanwhile, are trying to break a pattern of alternating wins and losses that has continued throughout the season. Last week, LL-H won 22-8 at Houghton.
The teams met last season in Felch for the first time in regular season play in 20 years and the Nordics took a 28-12 decision.
Elsewhere tonight, Houghton travels to Baraga as two teams trying to get on the board for the season after starting 0-7. Ontonagon (0-7) has a tough task at home against Hurley, Wis.