CALUMET - Calumet football has been about intensity for a long time, but without any second chances, against an undefeated team, the Copper Kings needed to take it up a notch Friday, and they did.
The Copper Kings completely stymied league co-leaders L'Anse in their home finale at Agassiz Field, maintaining their hopes for automatic playoff qualification with a 26-6 victory.
"We started off with great intensity. Everyone did their jobs. We got them right at the beginning of the game. If everyone does their jobs with lots of intensity, it comes out good," said senior Clark Kangas.
Calumet's Brendan Jacques turns the corner on a first-half run during Friday's game against L'Anse. Jacques ran for 110 yards in Calumet's 26-6 victory.
Kangas recorded his third game of the year with 20 tackles or more and pitched in a pair of short touchdown runs on the offensive end.
"I'm just out there trying to do my job, reading my keys, their offense. When the guys around me are doing their job, it comes out good," he said.
In a match-up of two power-oriented teams, the Copper Kings showed their superior depth and speed. Calumet moved the ball consistently against a L'Anse defense that had allowed an average of 13.3 points per game. On the opposite side, L'Anse averaged 40 points per game through its first six, but went three-and-out on its first four possessions, failing to move the chains until there were 41 seconds remaining in the first half.
L'Anse 0 0 0 6 - 6
Calumet 8 12 6 0 - 26
CAL - Clark Kangas, 1-yard run (Brendan Jacques run), 2:55
CAL - James Sturos, 18-yard run (pass failed), 11:20
CAL - Paul Torola, 14-yard pass from Sturos (run failed), 1:38
CAL - Kangas, 2-yard run (pass failed), 3:15
LAN - Cody Goldsworthy, 6-yard run (conversion waived), :00
First downs - L'Anse 10, Calumet 13; Total offense - L'Anse 180 (48 rush, 132 pass), Calumet 266 (252 rush, 14 pass); Rushing - LAN, Goldsworthy, 20-48, TD; Brandon Kemppainen 5-12; CAL, Jacques 19-110; Tyler Roland 11-43; Sturos 5-37; TD; Kangas 3-7 2TDs; Bryce Johnson 2-31, Lucas Lahnala 1-21; Passing - LAN, Jacob Ostermeyer 9-15-132, 2 INTs; CAL, Sturos 1-3-14, 1 TD; Receiving - LAN, Jeffrey Roth, 2-52; Jimmy Veker 2-23; Gavin Picciano 1-20, Keith Denomie 1-8, Jonny Magaraggia 1-3; CAL, Torola 1-14, TD.
"Calumet really came out and they controlled the line of scrimmage. We had a hard time moving the ball on them," L'Anse coach Mark Leaf said. "I thought the field position in the first half was a key. We had some really poor field position and they were able to take advantage of that. Hats off to them, they're a good football team and they really took it to us tonight. The better team won tonight on the field."
L'Anse's brightest moment came on the first series of the game, when it stoned Calumet's Brendan Jacques a foot short of the goal line on 4th-and-goal from the 1, but the Hornets couldn't strengthen their position. They punted three plays later from deep in their own end zone, and Calumet's Owen Kariniemi returned the kick to the Hornet 13. Four plays later, Kangas rumbled in from the 1.
After another unsuccessful drive, L'Anse punted to Kariniemi again. He returned the ball to the Hornet 35, setting up an 18-yard James Sturos option keeper run to the left pylon just three plays later.
L'Anse finally stopped Calumet on its next drive, only for the Copper Kings to down the resulting punt on the L'Anse 2. After three plays, Calumet had it again, this time at the L'Anse 43, and scored after a seven-play drive on a 14-yard pass from Sturos to Paul Torola.
By the time L'Anse finally started moving the ball, it was down 20-0.
"We knew they're very dominant between the tackles, so we were focusing on making them do something other than what they've had success with," Calumet coach John Croze said.
L'Anse moved the ball into Calumet territory at the end of the first half and beginning of the second, but kicked from near midfield. Calumet marched down the field for a game-killing score, delivered by Kangas from 2 yards out with 3:15 left in the third quarter.
Kangas, despite his two scores, had only seven yards rushing, but that was just a sign of a balanced Kings attack that racked up 252 of its 266 yards on the ground.
"We can substitute our backs, because we all can do many different great things. If one gets tired, we can switch him out," he said.
Brendan Jacques led all runners with 110 yards on 19 carries for Calumet.
L'Anse got on the board, but needed until the last play of the game, a 6-yard run from Cody Goldsworthy, to do it. Goldsworthy was held to a modest 48 yards on 20 carries.
"We've had to step up to bat every game this year. We've been battle-tested against some pretty darned good teams. I'm just proud of how our guys in the trenches played, because that was the difference in the game, I thought," Croze said.
In spite of adverse conditions, the Purple Hornets (6-1, 4-1 WestPAC) got a solid passing day out of Jacob Ostermeyer, who went 9-for-15 for 132 yards and two late interceptions.
L'Anse, which is already guaranteed a playoff spot, can still claim a share of the WestPAC title with a home win against Northland Pines next Friday.
"We've got to learn that we really have to step up our play against a quality team like Calumet. They're by the far the toughest opponent we've played this year, and it showed. It's a good learning experience for our kids. We're very happy where we're at, we've just got to get better, that's all," Leaf said.
If L'Anse wins that game and Calumet (4-3, 4-1 WestPAC) wins at Ironwood, both teams will join the Eagles in a three-way tie atop the league.