With the playoffs out of reach this season, the Alpena football team still has an important task this season: playing the role of spoiler.
Each of the Wildcats' remaining three games pits them against potential playoff teams, starting tonight at Cadillac and Alpena has its eye on trying to stifle the postseason aspirations of its opponents.
"We're looking forward to the challenge on Friday. I told the guys last week our role now is that we have to play spoiler because the three teams we play are still in the hunt for the playoffs, so we want to try and do our best to spoil those efforts," Alpena coach Jason Dubey said.
News File Photo
Members of the Alpena football team huddle before the start of a game against Cheboygan at Wildcat Stadium.
Heading into tonight's game, Alpena (1-5) finds itself in perfect position to play the spoiler role. After a 4-0 start, the Vikings (4-2) have struggled in their last two games, both losses, against Traverse City West and Ogemaw Heights.
In order for the Wildcats to do that however, they'll need to put together two complete halves of football. Last week Alpena hit the ground running and played Cheboygan to a 14-14 tie at halftime before falling apart in the second half and losing 42-14.
Dubey was encouraged by what he saw in the first half, but said his team needs to play a complete game and limit turnovers, which have created a lot of extra work for the Wildcats' defense in several games.
"The first half, we probably played our best football of the entire year of all the games, and the second half we just didn't recover from the punt that was returned for a touchdown," Dubey said. "We've just trying to work on playing a complete game."
If Ashton Dever can have another successful night on the ground, it could help open up passing lanes for junior quarterback Brady Marwede. The Wildcats' passing game struggled last week as Marwede threw three interceptions, but the week before against Gaylord, Marwede had a stellar game, tossing two touchdown passes and throwing for more than 200 yards.
Dubey said Marwede just needs to focus as he matches up against Cadillac signal caller Jalen Brooks who is a three-year starter for the Vikings.
Alpena's offense has moved well on the ground over the past two games with the return of Dever, who has topped 100 rushing yards in the last two games. Dever will have his work cut out for him tonight though, as he faces a Cadillac defensive line that features 6-7, 290-pound tackle Riley Norman and 6-6, 265-pound tackle Jack Ford.
Having seen Ford and Norman for the past few seasons, Dubey knows what a force the duo can be, but he said that won't stop Alpena from trying to run its game plan.
"They've been there for 2-3 years, so we definitely have seen them in the past. I think to a point, you have to do what you do. One's on one side and one's on the other, so we can't totally run away from them," Dubey said. "We have to be able to run inside and execute the game plan."
Tonight's game starts at 7 p.m.