OSCODA – We are six weeks into the high school football season and Iosco County already has its first playoff qualifier in Oscoda, thanks to its 28-7 win over Tawas Area last week. The Owls look to finish off the North Star League title this week while Tawas and Hale look to keep their post-season hopes alive. Whittemore-Prescott was officially eliminated from playoff consideration with their loss last week and will look to play the role of spoiler from here on out.
Oscoda (6-0) at
Oscoda may already have clinched its third straight playoff berth and North Star League title, but that doesn’t mean the Owls are going to take their foot off the accelerator when they head to Whittemore-Prescott Friday.
“The boys did a great job last week preparing for and beating our rival Tawas to get to 6-0 to get a playoff berth as soon as you can get one and winning the league as well,” Oscoda head coach Mark Whitley said. “We want to keep the momentum rolling, we will work hard again all week. We will be ready for them.”
The Cardinals were able to keep things relatively close in last years’ meeting between the teams in what was a 30-6 Oscoda win. W-P head coach Tommy Atkinson knows the Owls might present even more of a challenge this year.
“They are a very fine football team, they have a good run of athletes going through there right now,” he said. “Coach Whitley is doing a great job and what they do schematically maximizes their athletes. They run some different sets and are really good at finding ways of getting athletic mismatches.”
Atkinson admits that the Owls have some of the best players in the conference, though not surprising since they’ve already clinched the league crown.
“Owen Franklin is for my money the best all-around player in the conference this year,” he said. “It takes 11 to get the job done though so hopefully we are able to put our kids into position to succeed and maximize what we do best… It’s also homecoming for us this week. Everyone loves homecoming week except for the football coach.”
Oscoda has topped W-P in its last three meetings and are heavily favored again this week, but Whitley isn’t letting his squad overlook the Cards.
“We will prepare as hard as we do for every team every week and hopefully everything will work out,” he said. “Our job is to keep playing defense like we have been all year and keep them behind the chains. If we do that, that will help us a lot.”
Tawas Area (3-3) at Ogemaw Heights (4-2)
There’s no hiding it; if the Braves want to make the playoffs, Friday night is almost certainly a must-win game. With just eight games scheduled, a win Friday would put Tawas a win away, with a winless Inland Lakes team looking in week eight. A loss would force the Braves to rely on playoff points to get into the post-season.
“We are fighting for our playoff lives,” Tawas head coach Tim Webb said. “A win would keep that goal intact.”
Tawas was able to top Ogemaw at home last year in a similar situation, 19-6. The Falcons though are eying a playoff berth of their own and should be quite the challenge for the Braves.
“They are very talented and playing well,” Webb said. “We’re going to have to continue to improve and try to reduce some of our critical errors. They are big and fast and play hard. They’ve played a tough schedule and have some impressive victories.”
Onaway (4-2) at Hale (3-3)
With three games left, Hale has plenty of chances to stake its claim at a berth in the playoffs. While 8-man doesn’t allow automatic qualifiers, getting to six wins would still go a long ways to getting the Eagles into the playoffs. Onaway is going to be a tall task however, as it is coming off back-to-back wins where the Cardinals have scored at least 50 points.
“It’s homecoming which is always a game you want to win, so the kids are excited and shouldn’t need any extra motivation,” Hale head coach Pete Scott said.
Even though the implications for the game are great, Scott is keeping his plan to winning quite simple.
“They are very fast and can get to the perimeter quickly,” Scott said. “We need to improve every day in practice and focus on getting better at winning those one on one battles if we are going to win this game on Friday.”