The battle at the border: A rivalry unlike any other

High School Sports Zone

MENOMINEE, Mich. (WJMN) – For more than 100 years, these two teams have taken the field with so much more than a win on the line. The U.P. is filled with historic rivalries, but only one features two teams located just miles apart in two states.

“You could have a really bad year and if you beat Marinette, you know, you salvage your year,” Joe Noha, Menominee Head Coach said.

For Menominee senior Cooper Conway, there is one game on their schedule each year that is above all others.

“Oh for sure it’s, it’s a game that everybody looks forward to around here,” Cooper Conway, a senior for Menominee said. “It actually means a lot around here too.”

“The businesses would shut down, it was what you see on TV,” Joshua Kellner, the play-by-play broadcaster for the Maroons football team said. “When it was on Saturday, you couldn’t go anywhere to get a bite to eat. I mean every place is locked and everybody went to the M&M game. We’re talking over 8,000 people at some games back then. Obviously, we don’t get that much now, that’d be almost everyone in Menominee going to the football game, but it’s a community event that people will they remember. They live for this, high school football Menominee doesn’t get any better than Friday football especially now with the M&M game.”

Aden Laurin with the Cedar Log trophy
Courtesy: Val Ihde Photography

The Maroons and the Marines have been going head to head since Grover Cleveland was president. This contest brings back generations to relive their glory days.

“It’s, it’s quite a rivalry, we have dads, grandpas, and great grandfathers that played in the game, and their sons are playing now,” Noha said. “It’s a really nice lineage there for us within the communities.”

For players like senior Aidan Bellislem, suiting up for his final M&M game brought him full circle.

“Growing up, it has always been a big dream to play in the M&M game,” Aidan Bellisle, a senior for Menominee said. “From playing football on the sidelines and watching people like Justin Brilinski and Nathan Nowack all those big names. Playing ‘kill the carrier’ on the side of the football field just watching them and giving players high fives when they ran in for halftime. It was pretty cool watching the little kids now giving me high fives going into the locker room.”

After suffering a tough loss back in 2018, Bellisle says he and the team were determined to not let it happen again.

“So, we lost two years ago, and then every day after weight training we had a countdown up on the board in the weight room,” Bellisle said. “After every day of weight training we went and ripped it down until it got to zero, and then that year we went on to win by 40 plus.”

Menominee students and players after the big win on Friday
Courtesy: Val Ihde Photography

With Friday’s win going back with the maroon and white, Menominee now leads the all-time game series with 57 to 51 with 7 ties.

“I was very happy,” Conway said. “The team got the win and that is really all that matters at that point, the score doesn’t matter anymore unless you are up at the end.”

“The big one is this M&M game and they’re out there and they want to get to win,” Kellner said. “They remember this, they talk about this for the rest of their lives when they win the M&M game. They call the Cedar Log, that’s a trophy that goes back and forth between the schools and they engrave the year and the team that won it. That log is placed in either the Menominee or Marinette trophy case. This year it is going back to Menominee and when you walk into the Menominee High School and you go to the basketball games, it’s right there, you can’t miss it. The joy people get looking at the trophies and they remember their M&M game, especially their senior year, and that’s what it’s all about with these young players, they never forget what happened during their M&M game.”

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