Focus on the next play.
That's the Alpena football team's goal as the Wildcats look to break a three-game losing streak tonight on the road against Traverse City West.
"Our team motto is, 'Next play.' No matter what happens, whether it's good or bad, we always focus on the next play because that's always what's in front of us, not what's behind us," senior wide receiver Tim Atkinson said. "We don't think about the score, we just think about being perfect every play."
The Wildcats (1-3, 0-2 Big North) have shown flashes of consistent play in the first two weeks of Big North Conference play, but mistakes have hindered their chances to win. Alpena led Cadillac 14-13 at halftime last week, before the Vikings took over in the second half and went on to win 40-13.
After facing shifty Cadillac quarterback Jalen Brooks, the Wildcats will have another tough test this week matching up against the Titans' hulking offensive line. West will be playing without senior Connor Hayes, but still has plenty of size in the trenches. Tommy Roush (270 pounds), Thiyo Lukusa (6-5, 300 pounds) and Tyler Town (250 pounds) all provide good depth for West and its paid off so far in conference play. West edged Traverse City Central in overtime two weeks ago and defeated Petoskey last week.
West's experience up front has allowed its younger skill players to grow into their positions. Quarterback Jeff Turnquist is growing more confident by the week and was efficient against Petoskey, completing 10 of 12 passes for 149 yards and two scores.
With a big task in front of them, the Wildcats will try to exploit the Titans on the outside. Alpena's spread offense could help spread the field against West's defense and junior quarterback Tyler Pintar will undoubtedly need to have a big game as West's size could prove challenging for Wildcats' running back Jordan Ferguson.
"They're big, but we don't know how fast they are. We might have to spread it around the perimeter and manipulate their outside," Atkinson said.
West is 15-0 all-time against the Wildcats, but Titans' coach Tim Wooer knows this season Alpena is more talented than its record suggests.
"They're a very good football team. They have great ability and their playmakers are good players," Wooer said. "We're focused on our task at hand and we won't overlook Alpena."
James Andersen can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.