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WIC penalties may pose playoff problem

IRON RIVER—Any high school football team headed for the playoffs would take a 19-point win in the regular season’s last week. And West Iron County coach Mike Berutti was no exception after his team knocked off host Norway 33-14 in a West Pac Conference Iron Division matchup on Oct. 25.
    But Berutti did not leave Dickinson County without some concerns.
    “I felt like we were in control more often than not, but we just have to take care of our own problems,” he said. “We’ve got to clean our own house.”
    Berutti was pointing to one specific aspect of his team’s performance, one which has been an issue all year – penalties. Against Norway, the third-ranked Wykons (7-2, 6-1) were penalized 12 times for 120 yards, including three unsportsmanlike infractions.
    In fact, the Knights narrowed an 18-point deficit to four early in the third quarter when they took the second-half kickoff and went on a scoring drive that was largely aided by a series of West Iron penalties.
    “You know, I’m not upset about the holding, even the horse collar, the 5-yard facemask,” Berutti said. “That’s playing football. But the three unsportsmanlike conducts, that’s just ….”
    Fortunately for the Wykons, they were the better team and were able to overcome their issues with self-discipline. West Iron opened the scoring on its second possession, driving 57 yards on seven plays that ended with Gage Larson’s 4-yard plunge.
    On the Norway’s ensuing possession, the Wykon defense forced a fumble and took over on the Knight 39. On the next play, Trey Bociek found an open Noah Lewis for a touchdown connection to bring the score to 12-0.
    It’s the second time in as many weeks that Bociek and Lewis hooked up on the same fly pattern that resulted in a score.
    “(Opponents) sell the house on us,” Berutti explained. “Everybody knows that if you can run the football, they’re going to bring people up. And the more they bring them up, the better chance we can get behind them. And that’s been a good play for us, has been for years.”
    West Iron turned Norway over on the next possession, this time on an interception by Nathan Thomson. Four plays later, Larson added his second 4-yard touchdown run as the Wykons upped their advantage to 18-0 with 9:27 to play before halftime.

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