WHITTEMORE – At the beginning of the week, Whittemore-Prescott was preparing to host Vandercook Lake for a football game on Saturday afternoon. Plans changed, however, when Vandercook Lake asked to play a team closer to home and when 8-man powerhouse Gaylord St. Mary came calling for a contest, the Cardinals happily obliged.
“With everything considered, we figured we would be better off playing Friday night in Gaylord,” W-P head coach Tommy Atkinson said. “We lose a home game, which typically you don’t want to do but I would rather play a quality team that is closer to us. We want to see how good we might be and what we need to work on and I think that this gives us that chance.”
The Cardinals will certainly get their chance to see what they’re made of as the Snowbirds won nine games last season, including a playoff game, though they later had to forfeit four of those games due to using an ineligible player. So far this year St. Mary’s has taken care of Central Lake 57-6 and Forest Area 54-20. The Snowbirds have been penciled in by many as contenders for a state title this fall.
In last week’s win over Forest Area, seven different players scored touchdowns. Their talented backfield includes Chris Gordy (109 yards last week), Conrad Korte (51 yards, two touchdowns) and Brody Jeffers (80 yards rushing). Chris Koscielniak can throw the ball well at quarterback to give St. Mary’s a well-rounded attack.
“They have a couple really, really athletic pieces and a couple solid kids,” Atkinson said. “They like to run some different things where they come out and pound the ball one series and then come out and try to spread you out and run some option stuff on the next series. We have to be ready to play some assignment football as we will see some things we haven’t seen yet this year.”
Of course the Cardinals have their own offensive weapons in Dakota Gagnon and Kyle Fenner, who have caused teams headaches running out of the single wing offense. In just two games, Gagnon has already gashed the opposition for 520 yards and eight touchdowns and Fenner has racked up 314 yards and five scores. Russell Wilson, who already has 21 tackles and seven sacks this season, looks to continue to make noise on defense.
“St. Mary’s is a solid program, we are looking forward to it,” Atkinson said. “This game is going to test us and we will see what we are made of. We’re going to be ready to roll.
Since Gaylord is in region six, attendance will not be limited to two tickets per athlete. This could allow several Cardinal fans their first opportunity to see the team in action.
“St. Mary’s does not plan on having us cap our fans, which is nice,” Atkinson said. “We are going to go with as many as we can, which is great for the people that want to travel with us.”