Tigers hoping to put the brakes on speedy Cards

News File Photo Alcona running back Tim Hutchinson, left, stiff arms Rogers City defender Caleb Bade during a football game earlier this year.

LINCOLN–Do your job.

As the Alcona football team prepares for its Division 8 playoff matchup tonight against Johannesburg-Lewiston, that’s been the message this week in practice; execute and do it well.

It’s served them well so far this season, but the Tigers (7-2) will face a different test tonight against the Cardinals (6-3). Joburg runs an offense similar to Alcona’s Power-T and with a lineup of playmakers and a solid offensive line, the Tigers know they’re in for a challenge.

“I’m glad (defensive coordinator) Terry (Franklin) is charged with that task (of stopping them),” Alcona coach Jason Somers said. “We got into film study this week and we’ve seen what they do well and they do a lot of things well.”

Jacob Marsh has led Joburg’s backfield and Nick Mays, Kyle May and Brett Crandell have all been key contributors as well.

The Cardinals have also been battle tested as all three of their losses have come against playoff teams, including a loss to No. 4-ranked Gaylord St. Mary.

Alcona is well aware of Joburg’s speed and has used the week to plot ways to slow the Cardinals down. The Tigers are 7-3 all-time against the Cardinals, but Joburg won the last matchup 48-22 in 2015.

“They were aggressive in that game and when you watch them they’re speedy and they do a lot of things well,” Somers said. “We’ve had a good week of practice since we’re able to run their offense.”

With five playoff berths in six seasons, Alcona is used to the pressure of playoff football. But experience or no experience, Somers is counting on his team to match the Cardinals’ intensity.

“Do your job. Do what we’ve talked about,” Somers said of the message to his team this week. “You’re (each player is) responsible for one thing. Everyone has one job to focus on.”

With a backfield led by brothers Tim and Jack Hutchinson, an reliable quarterback in Alex Stephenson, a reliable receiver in Damion Stewart and an experienced offensive line, the Tigers will present a challenge for Joburg. Tim Hutchinson leads the area in yards (1,500) and touchdowns (23) while Jack Hutchinson has 969 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Having talent on both ends of the ball has led to success for Alcona and it has also helped to further team chemistry.

“They’re playing less and less like individuals and more like big picture thinkers,” Somers said. “Now the guys are starting to play selfless football.”