OSCODA – As expected, the Oscoda football team was able to take care of business in the regular season. Now, things are about to get really exciting for the Owls (8-1) as they are set to host McBain (5-4) on Friday in a division seven pre-district game, in what is their first home playoff game in program history.
“The kids are excited,” head coach Mark Whitley said. “We put goals on the board before the season. We talked way back in June that we wanted to win the league an we did that. The other thing was to host a playoff game and now we have that. Now, the next step is to win a playoff game at home. We’re ready. The atmosphere is going to be great; everyone in town is really excited.”
The Ramblers are guided by Pat Maloney, who is in his fifth year with the program. He has been able to get his squad to the post-season four times now in the always competitive Highland Conference.
The Ramblers have a dual threat quarterback in George Brown, who has passed and rushed for over 100 yards in several games this season. His favorite targets have been talented athletes in Dan Rodenbaugh and Gavin Sieland; both are also threats to run the ball out of the backfield.
“They look like they are a big, physical team,” Whitley said. “They have been playing some good football as of late and that’s why I’m happy we’ve been playing good football of late as well. We have film on them so we will break that down all week and share it with our players. We will work hard and see if we can’t match up to their power and strength with our own poser, strength and our speed.”
The Ramblers started the season 1-3, but rattled off four straight wins to get to 5-3; including what was perhaps their signature win in week eight, a 27-0 throttling of previously unbeaten Beal City. McBain lost to a playoff-bound Clare team in week nine 32-28, but led the game until giving up a late fourth quarter score.
“We need to play error free,” Whitley said. “We only had two penalties against Gladstone and we have to keep our penalties low again. If we keep those down and execute on offense and defense like we can, I think we can compete with any school so that’s what we are looking to do.”
As the top seed in the district, the Owls, with a win this week would host the district championship next week as well. Depending on how the other district plays out, Oscoda could even host a regional game. Houghton Lake (6-3) and Traverse City St. Francis (6-3) play in the other district semi-final. Iron Mountain (9-0) looms as the most likely opponent in regionals for this district winner. Oscoda knows it can’t look beyond McBain However.
“Our focus is one game at a time, let’s start with McBain, practice as hard as we can all week and play without any mistakes,” Whitley said. “The kids are excited though. The community is excited and the school is excited. This is a pretty big deal to be able to host this playoff game Friday night.”