The last two weeks have been a lesson in patience for Ashton Dever.
After sustaining a concussion against Sault Ste. Marie, Alpena's senior running back has been forced to watch from the sidelines as the Wildcats have dropped games against Traverse City Central and Traverse City West.
Now that he's been cleared to play, Dever is raring to go as the Wildcats head to Gaylord tonight.
Senior Ashton Dever will return to Alpena’s backfield tonight against Gaylord after missing two games with a concussion.
"It's been a hassle. I wanted to get out there so bad. It was nice seeing other people get in and get a chance to see what they can do and see what they're made of," Dever said. "It really puts them in a position where it challenges them and makes them push."
Dever's return comes at an opportune time for the Wildcats (0-4), who, like the Blue Devils, are anxious to get their first win. Dever, who has 125 yards on 18 carries this season provides Alpena with a great deal of speed out of the backfield as well as in the secondary where Dever doubles as a safety.
"I really wanted to get in and help my team. The team had to do a lot on their own. They did good, they battled, but now that I'm back I'm hoping to get them fired up and get them ready to play and see what we can do," Dever said.
Dever will be one of three players returning to the field for Alpena tonight as Dimitri Hantzis and Dylan Thrasher will give the Wildcats some extra depth on the offensive and defensive lines.
Alpena coach Jason Dubey is expecting a physical game from the Blue Devils, who, like the Wildcats, ran into a tough matchup last week and gained just 113 yards of offense against Cadillac. Gaylord will look to use the speed of players like Tyler Frisch against Alpena's defense, which was tested regularly against the Titans last week.
"I think there's some real similarities because they've played four really good teams too. It's going to be a good test to see where we're at and it's going to be physical," Dubey said.
With Dever out of the lineup, Alpena has relied on the inside rushing of Dakota Patterson and Cade MacArthur. Now that Dever has returned, he gives the Wildcats an outside running presence with the ability to turn on the jets when he finds open field.
"It's good to be able to see him back in uniform this week. He's missed some time since the Sault game and you hate to see any kids miss time, especially during their senior year," Dubey said.
Dever praised his offensive line for its efforts so far this season and said despite a tough first half of the season, the Wildcats are feeling confident heading into tonight's game.
"We're going to give it to them. We're going to play hard. We're going to be pumped and ready to go," Dever said. "I have no doubt in my mind we're going to come out of there with a win."