Gladstone, Mich. (WJMN) – It’s been a roller coaster ride of emotions for the Escanaba Football team who has seen their hopes to play football this Fall come and go and then come back once again.
“It’s been a struggle for our kids. I felt terrible for them. First off, with the MHSAA taking the football season away from them. Then, Finally being able to come back and our school gets shut down for two weeks and we’re done. So, for the kids, their hopes are going up and down, up and down, just emotionally draining,” said Dave Howes, the head coach for the Escanaba football team.
Escanaba became the final U.P. team to take field for their first action Last Friday when they went up against GNC rival Marquette. The Mo’s would fall, 27-6, against a Marquette team who has been able to play their full schedule.
“Finally to get a chance to play a football game last week it was very special. The game didn’t go like we wanted to, but it felt like a scrimmage. Marquette had five games in and this was our first game and I thought we did some things very well and we also didn’t do some things very well at all. But, that’s what the game was all about. It was about evaluating kids. I felt like if we played Marquette week 5 vs. week 5…it’s a different outcome,” said Howes.
Escanaba will get one final chance to evaluate before the start of the playoffs. They head to Gladstone for the ‘Battle of Delta County.” A win against their cross town rival would be a great way to salvage a lost season.
“They are very well coached every year with Coach Hansen. They are some tough, tough kids. But you know, its a rival game and anything can happen. We’re going to go in with the mindset of we have one game in and we’re going to get better this week. We’re going to execute the game-plan. Um, you know, hopefully have a solid game with no injuries and move forward.”
Gladstone is eager to get back into the win column after falling in their last two contests.
Jeff Hansen, head coach for Gladstone Football: “For us, we’re viewing this as if the playoffs start this week. There is a lot of things that goes into this rivalry game. It’s a year marked game every single year but what heightens it this year is with everything going on with Covid issues it just feels good really just getting here through the season,” said Jeff Hasnsen, the head coach for Gladstone.
Gladstone will be hosting Escanaba for homecoming. Hansen says this game has the feel similar to a big time college rivalry.
“It’s kind of got that Michigan-Ohio State feel to it because it’s the last game of the regular season. There just seems to be a magical, positive atmosphere surrounding this game. We definitely want to win this football game because we want to get back on track when it comes to winning,” said Hansen.
Although Escanaba will only be playing in their second game this season, Hansen says their not taking the Mo’s lightly.
“We’ll get Escanaba’s best shot. Dave Howes is a very good football coach. He’s a good friend of mine. He’s going to have them ready to play. They’re going to be highly-motivated to play. Anytime you’re in a rivalry game the details go by the waste side. The kids bring their best-self’s to the game and I would expect that to be the case with Escanaba. We’re preparing to get their best shot and the best version of them that they’re capable of putting out there and we’re going to do the exact same thing,” said Hansen.
The ‘Battle of Delta County’ is the biggest rivalry game we will see during this shortened season.
“It’s funny because we’re one of the few rivalry games that’s still in existence. If you look at what’s happening when it comes to rivalry games across the U.P, Marquette and Negaunee don’t play each other anymore. Kingsford and Iron Mountain don’t play each other anymore. Ishpeming is down so you don’t have the Ishpeming/Westwood game. So, we’re the only rivalry game that gets featured in the U.P. this year.”
The game between Escanaba and Gladstone is set to kick off at 7pm ET.