Alcona, Oscoda ready for challenging NSL matchup

For the Alcona and Oscoda football teams, tonight’s game will serve as a litmus test.

Both teams have won games and both teams appear headed toward the playoffs, but both teams will have to face each other in a matchup of the top two teams in the North Star League’s Big Dipper division.

Kick off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

“It comes at a point in the season where you can see where you are,” Alcona coach Jason Somers said. “It’s a game our kids look forward to and the F-41 trophy adds a little prestige. Our kids gets excited for this game.”

Alcona won last year’s matchup 66-14, but the two previous games proved to be much closer. Alcona rallied to beat Oscoda 56-55 in 2015 and Oscoda won 21-16 in 2014.

Alcona (4-1, 2-0 North Star League) has been a force this season with a 48-46 loss to Au Gres as the only blemish on its record. The Tigers are averaging 44.8 points per game offensively and have allowed 16.6 points per game.

The Owls (4-1, 2-0 NSL) have also lost to Au Gres, but have been on a roll since a Week 2 loss to the Wolverines. In the last three weeks, Oscoda has outscored its opponents 128-14 and has been dominant on both sides of the ball.

The Owls present the challenge of being a threat through the air and on the ground. Andrew Dault leads Oscoda’s ground attack with 373 yards and five touchdowns and averages nearly eight yards a carry. Nathan Nagel, Clyde Whitney and Travis Lamrock have all see time in the backfield as well.

Nagel has proven to be a capable passer in his second season under center. In five games, he is 16-of-36 passing for 328 yards and eight touchdowns against just two interceptions.

Grant Huebel has been Nagel’s favorite target this season and has 151 yards receiving and four touchdowns.

“Ten (Whitney) is speedy, Huebel’s on the outside is tough to beat to catch the ball, Nagel runs the ball well and throws well and I think Lamrock is underrated,” Somers said.

On the flip side, Oscoda will have its hands full trying to stop another potent Alcona running game. Alcona’s Power-T offensive formation relies on contributions from multiple running backs and many of them have stepped up for the Tigers this season.

Tim Hutchinson leads all Alcona backs with 796 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground. Jack Hutchinson has 540 yards and five touchdowns. Ian Travis, Alex Stephenson, Kyle Haeger and Dominic Howe have also seen action this season and scored touchdowns.

With dangerous offenses, tonight’s game could be decided by defense and which team can make stops when it counts. After limiting Whittemore-Prescott to 14 points last week, Somers is hopeful Alcona can execute its game plan this week.

“That was a pretty well executed game plan with everybody pulling on the same end of the rope,” Somers said. “We have to make sure we know where they are and execute our game plan.”

James Andersen can be reached via email at sports@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.