GLADSTONE, Mich. (WJMN) – Gladstone Head Coach Jeff Hansen gave his team a fiery pre-game speech before their big game last Friday night against Escanaba. His words hit deep as the Braves came out focused and sharp, leaving Escanaba with a hard-fought victory.
It was a long time coming for coach Hansen and the rest of the Braves. The last time Gladstone went to their rival’s field and left with a win was over three decades ago.
Hansen called the game a healthy rivalry that is great for both communities and the county.
“Escanaba and Gladstone have been playing football for 120 years,” said Hansen. “This is the first time that we’ve beaten Escanaba in 11 seasons. It’s the first time that we’ve beaten Escanaba in Escanaba since 1985. Only a handful of teams in Gladstone history have beaten an Escanaba team in Escanaba. On top of that, our JV’s won too, so we had a program sweep which hasn’t happened in three decades as well. So, we were able to exercise a lot of demons on Friday. We really played our best football by far and really had a great outcome.”
A big key in the Braves victory was the play of John Hansen, the son of head coach Jeff Hansen.
He had a monster game with over 100 yards receiving, two touchdowns, and a two-point conversion.
On defense, he had an interception, a sack, and a forced fumble.
“In the last couple of weeks I had struggled a little bit,” said John Hansen. “I haven’t had many catches, but I knew their corner were playing far off. So, running past them wasn’t too hard. We were just really excited to go out there and play the football that we’ve been practicing all week to do.”
“Johnny is a good football player,” said Jeff Hansen. It’s a unique experience to be a head football coach and coach your child. I’ve had it both ways, my daughter was a softball coach and I coached her in high school softball, and now my son through football. It’s a lot of fun because you have that coach-player dynamic while you’re on the field. It’s probably tougher on him because he has dad as a coach and the expectations are high. But he really, really came through and played his best football game and made huge plays at the most critical times.”
Gladstone will be without John Hansen for at least a few weeks as he recovers from a lower leg injury. The Braves will also be without their starting quarterback, Cam Kelly. Kelly broke his collar bone during last Friday’s game and will miss the remainder of the season.
Nate Young did come to play well in Kelly’s place under center at Escanaba. He will need to continue that good play this Friday night when Gladstone welcomes in the top-ranked Marquette Redmen to Marble Field.