OSCODA – At the conclusion of Friday’s games, the high school football season will already be one-third of way complete. Each of the four county teams still have a path to the playoffs, though enter key games this week.
Tawas Area (1-1) at W-P (1-1)
Last season’s 41-34 Tawas win over Whittemore-Prescott was an instant classic, although it wasn’t without its’ share of controversy late in the contest. The Cardinals host the Braves this time around in what should prove to be another hotly contested battle.
“I am sure that (Tawas head) coach (Tim) Webb is going to have his boys ready to play over here and I can promise you that my boys are chomping at the bit,” W-P head coach Tommy Atkinson said. “They’re ready for Tawas week and hopefully ready to be able to come out with the second win of the season. The kids all know each other and they’re looking forward to playing against our rivals.”
The Cardinals know they’ll have their hands full with the Braves once again.
“Tawas is a quality opponent, they have some pretty athletic kids and they move the ball around with a very balanced offense and rushing attack,” Atkinson said. “The run some nice counters that keep you on your toes and force your defense to stay home and not play too aggressive, because if they see you being too aggressive, they’ll take advantage of that. Defensively they have only given up three touchdowns on the season which is pretty stout. We’ve been going through and trying to get our game plan together but we won’t be able to tell until Friday whether those plans that we are putting together are going to work out or not.”
The Braves are hoping to approach Friday with a business-like mentality.
“Rivalry games are always fun, but it’s not more important than any other game on the schedule,” Webb said. “They are really well-coached and have tremendous size on the lien and great speed at running back. They have improved each week and I expect that trend to continue. We are going to need to play better than we’ve been playing to compete.”
Webb is hoping that his squad can pull out of the problems that have plagued his team through the first two weeks of the season.
“We have to try to cut down on the penalties and mental mistakes,” Webb said. “A win would put us one step closer to a playoff appearance which is always the goal since we’re not in a conference.”
Alcona (1-1) at Oscoda (2-0)
When Alcona and Oscoda meet on the football field, perhaps the area’s most under-rated rivalry takes place. The Owls won last year’s meeting 55-8 but have traditionally met in games that aren’t decided until the final whistle.
“I think Alcona and Oscoda are always going to be competitive with each other,” Whitley said of what will be their North Star League opener. “They are a good team and we have to prepare for them and be ready to play. They are going to come out in that ‘T’ offense and try to run it at us and we just have to stop it. Conversely they have to stop us.”
The Tigers struggled through a 1-8 season last year, but showed they are to be taken seriously this year when they surprised Tawas by topping it 16-14 in week one. Alcona lost to Merrill 33-8 last week.
“I think Alcona is a good team,” Whitley said. “They like to chunk you with three or four yards at a time and catch you off-guard with a pass. We have to try to eliminate that. We want to do the best we can to control the line of scrimmage since the ‘T’ offense eats clock. When we get the ball, we don’t really like to eat clock so we’ll see how it all works out.”
Hale (1-0) at Charlton Heston Academy (0-2)
When Hale travels to the Charlton Heston Academy on Friday, it might appear on paper to be an easy win for the Eagles. The Patriots only have five wins in program history and fell to the Eagles 46-12 last year. Hale head coach Pete Scott is quick to point out any such thoughts are ill-advised.
“They are definitely improved,” he said. “They have a new head coach (Mark Church) and are a lot more disciplined. He is inheriting a program that hasn’t won a lot but he has them going in the right direction. They’ve taken their lumps but the seniors on this team have been on varsity since they were freshmen. He has them flying around on offense and defense. They’re a tough out for anyone.”
Scott was able to watch the Patriots first hand on Saturday, when they fell to a strong Onaway team 32-8.
“It was scoreless with two minutes to go in the first half when they threw a pick-six trying to gamble,” he said. “They played them evenly, if not outplayed them in the first half. They’re a dangerous football team, they play hungry, play angry and play with a have nothing to lose attitude. Now that the have good coaching they are a good football team. It’s not going to be an easy week of practice for us. Coming off a loss and playing a very good Charlton Heston team the team will have to get after it or they will get it handed to them.”