HOUGHTON - The final U.P. Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association football poll votes of 2012 are cast, but there is still much to decide on and off the field.
Kingsford is unanimously atop the large-school poll and should take home the Class A-B Team of the Year award. Negaunee, No. 3 this week, is the likely Class C Team of the Year.
Division 8 is a little more tricky.
St. Ignace passed idle North Dickinson in the last small-school poll of the year by virtue of one changed vote. The Saints now have three first-place votes and 23 poll points to two first-place votes and 22 points for the Nordics.
St. Ignace was named Team of the Year in the smallest classification last year since it was in Division 8 even though it was a Class C school. Whether it retains the trophy or cedes it to the Nordics is subject to a vote later this week at the UPSSA's fall meeting, results of which will be released Saturday along with the rest of the All-U.P. teams.
However, both have bigger fish to fry this week: the first round of the MHSAA playoffs in Division 8.
1. Kingsford (5) 8-1 25
2. Menominee 8-1 20
3. Negaunee 8-1 13
4. Ishpeming 8-1 8
4. Marquette 5-3 8
OTHER: Calumet 6-3, 1
1. St. Ignace (3) 9-0 23
2. N. Dickinson (2) 8-0 22
3. Gogebic 6-2 12
4. Stephenson 7-2 11
5. Forest Park 7-2 5
OTHER: L'Anse 7-2, 2
1. Cedarville (5) 9-0 25
2. Rapid River 7-2 20
North Dickinson (8-0) will host the Gogebic Miners (6-2), who were ranked third in the final poll of the season with 12 points. Forest Park (7-2), which was fifth with five points, will travel to L'Anse (7-2) in the opposite pre-district. L'Anse received two votes. Both games will kick off at 7 p.m. EDT.
In Region 1, District 2, St. Ignace (9-0) will open with a wild card team, the 5-4 North Central Jets, while Stephenson, which landed fourth in the U.P. poll, must travel across the peninsula to Pickford.
If the Nordics and Saints were to meet, it would be in the third round, and St. Ignace would have home-field advantage, as determined by its higher playoff point average. The Saints defeated Cheboygan in Week 9 and cost the Chiefs a home game in the D-4 playoffs, boosting their point average in the process.
In an unusual development, there is only one U.P. team in the entire Division 7 draw, Ishpeming. The Hematites (8-1), who are ranked in a tie for fourth in the final UPSSA poll, will host Lincoln Alcona in the first round. Despite their loss to Negaunee earlier in the season, the Hematites will have home-field advantage through the first three rounds, as they have a higher seed than unbeaten Mancelona. The semifinals and final are at neutral sites.
In Division 6, Negaunee will open with Iron Mountain. The Mountaineers snuck in with a wild card, no help from the Miners, who pounded them 28-6 in Iron Mountain in Week 4.
Both Negaunee and Iron Mountain beat Manistique, which had to win a double overtime home game against Harbor Springs in Week 9 in which the visiting coach and two players were ejected. The Emeralds (6-3), who also lost to Ishpeming, visit Calumet at 7:30 Friday in the pre-district round. Manistique now has three playoff trips in the last six seasons.
Kingsford (8-1) starts its playoff trip through the D-5 bracket with a tough match-up against Grayling, which is 9-0 and among the strongest squads in the northern Lower Peninsula. If it wins, it would not have home-field advantage against Menominee, which drew Kingsley in the first round. Both D-5 games are Saturday.
Sault Ste. Marie (6-3), an independent, found a place in the Division 3 bracket, where it will play at St. Johns (6-3) Friday night.
Marquette (5-3) has a tremendously tough assignment in Division 2: a Saturday trip to play at undefeated Midland.
Cedarville was the best U.P. team in the eight-man division by two full games, receiving all five first-place votes from the panel. Defending state runner-up Rapid River was second. Both will host first-round games in the 8-man tournament, Cedarville against Engadine and Rapid River against Superior Central.