Coaching chemistry helps to fuel Alcona’s success on the field

News File Photo Alcona head coach Jason Somers talks with players during a timeout during a 2016 playoff game against Au Gres at Alcona High School. Since taking over in 2014, Somers and his staff have led Alcona to the playoffs three times.

LINCOLN–Alcona football coach Jason Somers doesn’t get too hung up on wins and losses.

But even he admits, last week’s win was a special one.

“I don’t typically think about wins and losses, but that, Friday night, was a really really proud moment for the fact that I got to do it with a bunch of guys I care about,” Somers said. “Coach (Bob) Petrovich is kind of my mentor. Coach (Terry) Franklin, he and I coached together before and he was a coordinator when I played here. To see that all come together was really cool.”

Somers isn’t alone in his sentiment. For him and the members of his coaching staff, Friday’s regional championship win over Hillman was the culmination of many years of hard work and dedication that finally added up a monumental program win.

“As a coach that’s always your dream, to get to these types of games,” Franklin, Alcona’s defensive coordinator, said. “I knew eventually it would happen and I was just hoping I could be a part of it and I am. It’s awesome.”

Franklin led Alcona to its first playoff game in 1999 and led Alcona back to the playoffs the next season. It wasn’t until 2012 that the Tigers returned to the playoffs. Dave Schneider led Alcona to its first playoff win in 2013 and since Somers took over in 2014, the Tigers have been a mainstay in the postseason.

Coaching continuity has played an important part in Alcona’s recent success as much as its talent on the field. Somers’ staff which includes Petrovich, Franklin, George Schrader, Nathan Walker, Rob McGuire and Cody Franklin has been together for several years and has been involved with Alcona football for more than 30 years combined.

Petrovich coached Terry Franklin and Somers during their playing careers and Schrader and Walker began their Alcona coaching careers under Schneider while McGuire and Cody Franklin were playing.

Petrovich led Alcona’s program from the mid 1980s and along with Chuck Miknis installed the Power-T offense which the Tigers have run with great success for more than 30 years. Petrovich coached Alcona for 13 seasons before Franklin, who served as a coordinator, took over as head coach in 1996.

“I was feeling satisfaction (on Friday) for our kids and what they’ve accomplished this year and over four years really. I was not surprised. I think we’re capable,” Petrovich said of Alcona’s regional win. “There’s very little these kids can’t accomplish. It’s a willingness on every snap to do their jobs.”

Running the same schemes have helped the Tigers win a lot of games even as declining enrollment affects the area. In 2008, Alcona had an enrollment of 333 and the enrollment this year was 233.

“The hard part about smaller schools, especially in Northeast Michigan, is it’s very difficult to sustain year and year out,” Petrovich said. It’s not impossible, but it’s challenging.”

In the face of that decline, Alcona’s coaching chemistry has remained strong and every coach has their role from Franklin’s handling of the defense to Petrovich’s work with the offensive line. Franklin also works with some of Alcona’s players during the winter as part of Alcona’s power lifting program.

Together in Somers’ tenure, they’ve helped coach Alcona to a 28-13 record, three playoff appearances and two North Star League Big Dipper division titles.

Tonight they’re hoping to coach the Tigers to even greater heights.

“It’s just a real neat deal. Great friendships. We’ve got a great coaching staff. It’s just a blast,” Franklin said. “It’s one great big family. It’s really neat.”

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