Maroons dominate early, rip Rayders 56-14

Jacob Swanson, Michael Wieting

Football is supposed to be fun, and when you’re winning district title games by a 56-14 score, it certainly is – just ask the Menominee Maroons.

On paper, Saturday’s district championship game was a tantalizing matchup, with the Charlevoix Rayders coming to town riding a nine-game winning streak and 9-1 overall record. 

On the field, it was all Maroons from the jump. They got the ball first and marched down the field, with a 16-play drive ending with a touchdown on a fourth-and-one rush by Landan Bardowski from the Rayders’ 2-yard line.

The Maroons forced a 3-and-out on the next drive and then went on another long drive that culminated in a Trevor Theuerkauf touchdown pass to Nathan Komp on the first play of the second quarter.

That early start was huge for Menominee. Coach Chad Brandt said the Rayders have a couple of big running backs that they would have likely wanted to get more involved, but when you get behind early, you can’t do that as easily.

“I think they want to grind it a little bit, and I think we took them out of that in the first half, so I think that plays into our hand,” Brandt said. “ A great job by our guys those first few times on defense to just stuff them.”

That trend continued the next drive, with another 3-and-out from the Rayders. Theuerkauf quickly scored on a rushing touchdown to increase the lead.

Brandt said the offensive line sets the tone for the start of the game, and that momentum spreads to the rest of the team.

“Defense builds off the intensity, the whole team builds on it, and it culminates into just playing faster and getting after it,” he said.

It was 38-0 by the time the Rayders had their first first down of the game. 

The next two touchdowns would go to Charlevoix, but the deficit was too large, especially when Bardowski raced 73 yards for a touchdown on the first play following the Rayders’ second score.

Menominee was playing with a freshman and sophomore on the left side of the offensive line, but they handled their own, a product of the Menominee football program’s culture.

“It’s been awesome having those young guys up. Practices have been great, we get along, we do stuff together year-round as a team, JV varsity, just Maroon football, and I think that shows,” Brandt said. “When they get out there, they know their job and commitment to each other.”

Those linemen helped Bardowski run 20 times for 153 yards and Theuerkauf run 13 times for 122 yards. Both scored two touchdowns on the ground.

Theuerkauf threw the ball 18 times, completing 13 for 150 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception, Aaron Brunelle caught two touchdowns and Komp caught one, with 52 and 61 yards receiving, respectively.

They had some fun on the other side of the ball as well, forcing three turnovers. 

“Football’s supposed to be fun and done with each other… and it looks like we’ve been doing that,” Brandt said. “I want them to have fun, otherwise why do you put in the work?’”

Moving on, the Maroons earned themselves another home game at Blesch Stadium this week against McBain. The city of McBain is located east of Cadillac in north-central Lower Michigan.

The Ramblers went 4-3 in the Highland Conference and 7-4 overall, including two playoff wins. They beat Houghton Lake 46-6 in the first round and Beaverton 12-0 last week.


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