Hutchinsons ready for big game vs. Hillman

News File Photo Alcona running back Tim Hutchinson (5) jukes a Tawas defender during a 2016 game at Alcona High School. Hutchinson and the Tigers will host Hillman tonight in a Division 8 district final.

LINCOLN–Tim and Jack Hutchinson have been preparing for big moments since they suited up for the Alcona Packers youth football team.

Tonight, the twin brothers will get their shot at one.

With the Hutchinson brothers leading the way, the Alcona football team will try to make program history tonight in its Division 8 playoff game against Hillman and win its first district title.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Alcona High School.

Alcona has been in this situation twice before. In 2013, the Tigers won their first ever playoff game and fell to Lake City in the district final at home. Last season, the Tigers got to the district final again, but were edged by Frankfort.

The Tigers are hoping the third time is the charm in their quest to continue their playoff run.

“It feels good. It almost feels like it’s become an expectation of sorts and it feels really good to be back,” Tim said. “I’ve been preparing my whole life for this and I think we’ve done well.”

Running backs have long flourished in Alcona’s offense and this year the Hutchinsons have led that charge, often emerging from the center of a pile up to rumble to the end zone untouched. After the graduation of all-time leading rusher Brock Franklin this spring, Somers told the Hutchinsons repeatedly they would be counted on to shoulder a bigger load.

With nearly 2,500 yards and 34 touchdowns between them, they’ve made the Tigers’ offense hum this season to the tune of 47 points per game and Somers praised their willingness to be coached as a huge asset.

“They always bring a lot of effort to the game. Their ability to be good in some situations where the blocking is tight and the holes are tight (and) some individual effort on some of the runs has been really good,” Alcona coach Jason Somers said. “Their ability to be coached, that’s what’s made them better football players this year.”

For all the big numbers, both Hutchinsons are quick to credit their offensive line. Tackles Chris Kamischke and Jaden Bartz, guards Devon Mills and Cody Schram and center Jacob Schott all earned all-conference honors last season and have made things easy and opened up holes for the Hutchinsons, quarterback Alex Stephenson and players like Kyle Haeger and Ian Travis who have carried the ball.

“If I had to pick any sort of guys in the conference or in the state, I’d pick our guys. They (play a) huge role,” Jack said. “We wouldn’t be where we are without them.”

The Tigers made no bones about their goal for 2017: they wanted another shot at a district title. But to get it, they’ll have to stop Hillman, who is no stranger to the playoffs.

“It’s pretty neat. The guys came into this year and they said we want to get back to where we were last year and by golly, they’ve done it. How fun is that?,” Somers said. “They set a goal and they were able to obtain and know whether or not they can go out and capture that title, they’ll have to play for it.”

Alcona defeated Hillman 28-8 in the second game of the regular season, but Hillman is coming off an upset victory over Au Gres and Alcona isn’t taking them lightly. With a veteran coach in Bill Koenig and speedy playmakers including running backs Caine Hunt and Billy Kolcan, quarterback Kyler Moir and wideouts Matt Hunt and Jared Juergens, Alcona knows it will get Hillman’s best effort from the get go.

“They’re aggressive as all get out, they never give up and they’ve got got athletics. The people on that team are full of athleticism. They can run, they’ve got a couple big guys in the middle that can jump up the run,” Somers said. “Bill’s a great coach and he’s not going to settle for anything less than their best. We know that’s what we’re going to get. We’re going to get their best and they’re going to be pumped.”

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