Looking at the Alpena football team's schedule, seven of the nine teams the Wildcats play this year are still in the hunt for the playoffs, which means week in and week out, Alpena is playing some pretty motivated competition.
Such was the case on Friday as Petoskey entered the game with a 4-3 record and came away with a 28-7 victory over Alpena at Wildcat Stadium to keep its playoff hopes alive and tally at least five wins for the fifth straight season.
Alpena (1-7) hung with the Northmen (5-3) for most of the first half and only trailed 14-7 at halftime, but a few costly turnovers and a lack of consistency on offense killed any hopes the Wildcats had of pulling out a win.
News Photo by James Andersen
Alpena quarterback Brady Marwede, left, looks to throw during the second half of a football game Friday at Wildcat Stadium while Petoskey Shea Whitmore moves in to defend. Petoskey defeated the Wildcats 28-7.
Kurt Boucher had 129 yards on 21 carries for the Northmen and Tom DeAgostino added 70 yards on 14 carries and 73 reception yards on three catches.
Despite the loss, Alpena coach Jason Dubey was proud of the way the Wildcats battled against the Northmen, who collected their sixth straight win over Alpena.
"I told the guys I was proud of them. This is the hardest we've played. That's a good team and we battled and made a couple defensive stands early before the half, which was really big. We had some plays, we just didn't connect in the second half," Dubey said. "We had a few plays here and there, we were marching in the first half and we fumbled on a fullback dive. We had opportunities, we just didn't execute."
Alpena missed a field goal attempt midway through the first quarter and Petoskey broke the scoreless tie, only seconds into the second quarter when Quinn Ameel tossed a 46-yard touchdown pass to DeAgostino.
The Wildcats responded on the next drive with a long run by Ashton Dever, but the play was negated shortly after on a fumble which Shea Whitmore recovered for the Northmen. Kegan Schoenith scored the first of his two touchdowns a few plays later on a five-yard run to put Petoskey ahead 14-0 with 8:37 left in the half.
On the next drive, Alpena had one of its best plays of the game when Kaleb Smith took a handoff on a reverse and scampered 48 yards into Petoskey territory. A few plays later, Dever found the end zone to cut Petoskey's lead in half with 3:39 left in the half.
Dubey was pleased that the play to Smith worked, as it helped give Dever a break from trying to make plays on the outside.
"We had some success running toss stuff to Dever in the first half and they were really flowing hard, so we thought we'd do some counter stuff away from him and Kaleb made a big play," Dubey said. "I'm proud of them, proud of the way they fought, proud of the way they scrapped."
Dever came up with a big sack on Ameel on the next drive, forcing a punt, but the Wildcats muffed the ensuing punt return and Petoskey recovered.
Dever led Alpena with 82 yards on 16 carries and his play and Smith's reverse accounted for 130 of Alpena's 191 offensive yards. Petoskey had 335 yards of offense.
Boucher upped Petoskey's lead to 14 midway through the third quarter with a four-yard run and Petoskey got the ball back soon after when Ameel intercepted Brady Marwede.
Marwede was 3-of-14 for 26 yards and an interception while Ameel was 4-of-9 for 101 yards and two interceptions.
The Wildcats marched down the field late in the fourth quarter, but fell short of the end zone on a fourth-down attempt. The drive included a chance for a touchdown catch that was dropped.
Schoenith added the Northmen's final score of the night with 3:55 left in the game on a six-yard run.
Alpena closes out the regular season at home next Friday against Ogemaw Heights and Dubey is expecting another tough game.
Ogemaw Heights is a really improved program from last year. They too are trying to get in the playoffs, so they're going to come out motivated," Dubey said.