OSCODA – Things went pretty well for the Oscoda football team in the regular season. The Owls, who won the North Star League for the third straight season, outscored their opponents 298-6 in their six contests and have seen their stock raise to being ranked all the way to ninth in division seven. Oscoda hopes that success continues Friday night, when it hosts St. Louis (2-4) in just the programs second ever home playoff game.
“It should be awesome,” head coach Mark Whitley said. “Friday night lights, the kids are 6-0 and we are at home.”
While this is the fourth straight playoff appearance or the Owls and fifth trip to the post season in the last six years, the program hasn’t won a playoff game since 2000 and is still seeking its first ever district title.
“We’re going to take it one game at a time, but the kids really, really want it,” Whitley said. “They want to extend the season as long as they can, especially in this shortened season.”
The Sharks won games against Valley Lutheran and Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary this season. While they finished below-500, each setback came to annual playoff qualify teams Hemlock, Ithaca, Saginaw Nouvel and Breckenridge.
The Sharks are led by running back Trae Davis, who had 236 yards and three touchdowns in their Oct. 16 win over MLS. Ben Dousuah and Logan Kuetz also see carries out of the backfield and quarterback and Reece Giles is no stranger to throwing the ball, attempting over 20 passes a game. His favorite targets have been Cade Pestrue and Tom Zacharo. Doyusuah is also one of their better defenders at linebacker.
Despite being the favorites to come out with a win, Whitley is putting in the work to make sure his team is prepared.
“I typically study until about 3’oclock in the morning on Sundays and I’m still looking at them, studying things,” Whitley said. “We’re not going to make any wholesale changes, we always put in a few wrinkles offensively and defensively but we just want 11 helmets to the football on defense and offensively we want to play as a unit.”
The Sharks would not have qualified for the playoffs under a normal season’s guidelines, but the Owls are careful not to have a let-down after what has been the most dominating regular season in program history.
“Absolutely not (having a let down),” he said. “St. Louis has won a couple games and you may get tired of me saying it but we practice all week like we are playing Ohio State; we are going to practice hard and study hard. Our practices will be excellent this week and we will continue to do what we do. We don’t want to go home yet.”
Whitley is also anxious to see what type of support he gets from the community come Friday’s 7 p.m. kickoff. After all, the Owls received a police escort to Friday’s game at Houghton Lake, and that was only a regular season game.
“Typically you get sendoffs like that if you make the playoffs, but we got one Friday and I thought it was unbelievable,” he said. “That kind of support for an away game means a lot. The last home game they were parked down the fences down the outside and they had a great time. We hope that every community member that can, comes out and has fun.”
The winner of Friday’s game plays the winner of the game between Beaverton and Pine River.