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Football: Calumet tops Maroons in district semifinal, 29-14

Calumet's Dryden Nelson (36) and Kip Kangas (42) take down Menominee's Jon Spegel during Friday's district semifinal win at Menominee. (EagleHerald/Brian Bell)

MENOMINEE — After Menominee opened the scoring in Friday’s Division 6 district semifinal game against Calumet, the Copper Kings rattled off 29 unanswered points to beat the Maroons 29-14 in the district playoffs for the second consecutive year.

Calumet used a healthy dosage of the run game and its defense had Menominee’s number all night. The Copper Kings rushed for 364 yards en route to 400 yards of total offense led by Dryden Nelson’s 20 carries for 180 yards while holding Menominee to one of its lowest totals of the season at 227 (115 pass, 112 rush).

Calumet advances to play Negaunee for the district championship next week. The Miners whitewashed Westwood 42-14 in the other semifinal.

“(Calumet) was diving the fullback up the middle and the quarterback kept it a few times and had a lot of success and then they ran the toss and (Dryden Nelson) is a really quick kid,” Menominee coach Jamie Schomer said. “We worried about the verticle game and quite obviously they had some success with that.”

Neither team could get into the endzone in the first quarter but the Copper Kings had the best opportunity on the first drive of the game. Nelson put together runs of 13, 10 and 28 yards to help set Calumet up at the Menominee 11, but on fourth and five Nelson took a pitch from quarterback Paul Sturos and Nelson was upended by Menominee’s Aidan Bellisle at the 2-yard line and the Maroons took over on a turnover on downs.

Back-to-back punts and a fumble by the Maroons gave the ball back to Calumet, but another punt returned possession to Menominee and the Maroons capitalized.

Three straight runs from Bellisle set Menominee up at Calumet’s 43, and on first down the Maroons went airborne as Joe Romero-Haire lofted one up and Brady Schultz came down with it at the Copper Kings’ 6-yard line. On the next play, Bellisle ran up the middle for a six-yard score and after the extra point Menominee led 7-0 with 6:14 left in the half.

After that, it was all Calumet.

It took just five plays for Kip Kangas to break free on the ensuing possession for a 27-yard touchdown run and tie the game at seven with 2:59 before halftime and that would be the score at the break as Calumet couldn’t take advantage of a Menominee interception with just under two minutes to play.

Menominee fumbled on its first possession of the second half at the 50 yard line, and on third and two Nelson broke free for a 33-yard scamper to set his team up at the 9-yard line. Three plays later, Sturos faked out the Maroons’ defense on a quarterback keeper and went untouched into the endzone. The two-point conversion was good and Calumet led 15-7.

A three-and-out from Menominee led to another touchdown run from Sturos on a modified version of the same quarterback keeper he scored on previously, this time from 39 yards and again he went untouched.

Closing out the scoring for the Copper Kings was Kangas as he bullied his way into the endzone from 2-yards out with 5:31 remaining in the fourth quarter to cap off a 10-play, 79-yard drive to give his team a 29-7 lead.

Menominee’s final score came in desperation as the Maroons started going through the air and Romero-Haire found Bellisle for a gain of 24-yards before hooking up with him on a 35-yard touchdown strike. Calumet recovered the onside kick attempt and gained two first-downs before kneeling out the clock for the win.

“It was hard for us to get a rhythm going and find a weakness to attack, so give (Calumet) a lot of credit,” Schomer said. “They played us very well defensively and clearly had a pretty good gameplan coming in.”

Backing up Nelson’s huge night was Sturos with 84 yards and two touchdowns while Kangas ran for 61 yards and two scores. Leading Menominee was Romero-Haire on the ground with 10 carries for 49 yards. He also completed 4 of 10 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. Bellisle tallied 30 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown.

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