By Dan Hardenbrook

It’s a rematch that many saw coming: the Newberry Indians will face the Munising Mustangs in a quest for the regional championship.

Football fans predicted this after the week two clash in the Battle for the Axe. Munising won the 2022 Battle, holding off Newberry 14-0. Since then, neither team has been seriously challenged, and the two sides have been on a collision course that comes to its climax this Friday, again in Munising.

The regular season matchup saw the Indians and the Mustangs trade blows, going possession for possession with neither squad backing down. It was still 0-0 until the final play of the third quarter, when the Mustangs finally broke through for the first score of the game. The Mustangs slowed the pace and limited the Indians opportunities and held on for the 14-0 win.

The stakes are even higher this time around. There is a trophy on the line, but it isn’t the famed axe. This time the two longtime rivals will clash for an MHSAA 8 Man Division 1 Regional Championship. The winner will advance to the state semifinals, and be one win away from playing for a state championship. The loser will see a great season come to a disappointing end.

Munising enters undefeated at 10-0 overall. The Mustangs had the highest total of playoff points among teams that qualified for the postseason, making them the number 1 overall seed in the tournament. The Indians, with their only loss coming in that game against the Mustangs, entered the postseason 7th in the playoff rankings, and they upset #3 Rogers City in dominating fashion in round one.

The Mustangs and Indians meet for the regional championship Friday night with kickoff scheduled for 7pm. Tickets for the game must be purchased online in advance from the MHSAA’s ticket partner GoFan. The game will be broadcasted online with live audio courtesy of M-123FM.

Indians vs Mustangs: Tale of the Tape
Newberry 9-1 Overall, 7-1 Great Lakes 8 East (2nd)
Munising 10-0 Overall, 8-0 Great Lakes 8 East (1st)

2022 Playoffs Round 1
Newberry 54 Rogers City 6
Munising 58 Norway 12

Final Rankings
Newberry 3rd UPSSA, 6th MHSFCA, 7th AP
Munising 2nd UPSSA, 1st MHSFCA, 3rd AP

Key Stats
Newberry: 436 points scored (43.6 ppg) 73 points allowed (7.3ppg)
Munising: 524 points scored (52.4 ppg) 61 points allowed (6.1ppg)

All Conference Players
Newberry M. Rahilly – WR/DEF Hybrid, B. Doke – C, Z. Burton – LB, G. Luck – DE, Marco Juarez DB/RB, E. Pavey – OL, G. Nutkins – QB, Jacob Mohar – DB
Munising: K. Nebel – QB/DB, J. Peramaki – RB (Off Player of the Year), R. Murk – C, J. Mattson – LB (Def Player of the Year), A. Wymer – DL, R. Bowerman – DE