Wildcats hosting Trojans for homecoming

After two tough weeks on the road, coming home might be just the thing the Alpena football team needs.

The Wildcats will play their final home game at 7 p.m. tonight, hosting Traverse City Central for homecoming at Wildcat Stadium.

“It’s a definitely a game that the kids and everybody looks forward to every year. It’s good to be back for our last home game,” Alpena coach Aaron Sims said. “Home games are fun to have the crowd support and everybody pulling for us to get a win.”

Alpena (2-4, 1-2 Big North) has been outscored 89-6 over the last two weeks in road contests against Traverse City West and Ypsilanti Community.

The Wildcats were left licking their wounds last week in a loss to Ypsilanti where they committed eight turnovers, including the loss of six fumbles. Sims said the game will serve as a learning experience for his team, but he and the players know many of those mistakes were self-inflicted.

“We know we gave that game away last week. It was our best output of the season and we moved the ball it well,” Sims said. “It’s not like they stoned us and we couldn’t move the ball. Everything that happens was on us.”

Logan Guthrie led Alpena on the ground with 161 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries. Eric Troy added 59 yards on 11 carries.

The Wildcats know they need to protect the ball better against the Trojans, who they haven’t beaten since 2009. Central won the most recent meeting, 41-14 last year and comes into the game averaging 34.5 points on offense.

Central returned quarterback Tobin Schwannecke this season and the Trojans’ receiving corps is one of its deepest in years. Terry O’Connor, Bowen Brunner, Martin Foley and Dylan Liggett have all stepped up at receiver and have led the Trojans in receiving yards for at least one game each.

“Their quarterback is probably one of their best athletes. He’s definitely that likes to get out on the edge, run around and make things happen,” Sims said of Schwannecke.

Both teams ran into turnover troubles last week in their respective games. The difference was that Central was able to beat Petoskey in spite of six fumbles while Alpena’s eight turnovers were too much to overcome.

A fast start could prove beneficial for the Wildcats tonight. Central has trailed by 14 points or more in each of its last three contests, but has rallied back to take the lead each time.

Sims said the Wildcats work on ball control drills often and talked about what they can do better this week, but Sims knows the game will ultimately come down to which team executes better.

“I think we’ve just got to go out and play, play with some fanatical effort and execute and I think that’s going to be the big things for us. It’s a matter of us just to keep playing every single play,” Sims said. “We’ve going to make plays, they’re going to make plays and it’s a matter of playing hard on every play.”

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