HOUGHTON - The 2013 high school football season makes the turn for halfway tonight and several teams have a lot of work to do to earn playoff qualification.
The best record in Houghton County after four weeks belongs, rather surprisingly, to the Houghton Gremlins, who are 3-1, having knocked off Westwood, Ironwood and Calumet in consecutive weeks. This week, they'll face their toughest challenge since Week 1 when they host West Iron County at Alumni Field tonight.
Houghton last defeated the Wykons in Week 5 of the 2001 regular season, also the last time they beat Calumet and the last time they made the playoffs. The Gremlins and Wykons met again in the first round of the postseason with West Iron gaining revenge by a 16-3 margin.
The Wykons have won all 11 meetings since that playoff encounter, five of them by shutout.
Coach Mike Berutti's Wykons are 4-0 for the first time since 1990, though only last week's win at Ironwood was decided by more than 13 points.
The Gremlins, meanwhile, still have a negative point differential stemming from their 34-point loss to L'Anse in the opener, followed by wins of six, 15 and six points in the next three weeks.
On the other side of the Portage Lake Lift Bridge, Calumet and Hancock meet at McAfee Field, both looking to start a season turnaround.
Injuries have ravaged the Copper Kings and played a major role in their 0-4 start. Three captains (Paul Torola, Tyler Roland and Chad Sturos) have suffered season-ending injuries in the first four games.
Still, with two games remaining against teams who would yield Class B playoff spots, a wild card playoff berth at 5-4 is not out of the question for the Kings if they run the table.
The Bulldogs (1-3) are trying to catch a break after their second close loss of the season last Friday against L'Anse.
Hancock last beat Calumet in 2003.
For the first time since Opening Night, Lake Linden-Hubbell is playing on a Friday, this week at winless Ontonagon. The 2-2 Lakes will be heavy favorites against a Gladiator team is likely to have started with four straight playoff teams (North Central, Northland Pines, L'Anse, Forest Park) when all is said and done.
L'Anse (3-1) hosts Baraga (0-4) in what could be a lopsided Keweenaw Bay battle tonight at Meadowbrook Field. The Hornets are going for their third straight win in the series.