Alcona ready to carry on winning tradition in 2018

LINCOLN — The Alcona football program has set the bar high under coach Jason Somers.

Three consecutive playoff appearances, two nine win seasons and three playoff wins the past two years and a district championship a year ago.

The 2018 Tigers are determined to keep the winning tradition alive and continue to build on the foundation that has been set.

“This team is real eager. They’re eager to create their own identity, they’re eager to practice and work hard. It’s been fun because they’re youthful, but they are willing and it’s going to be a great season,” Somers said. “The foundation has been laid and these guys are eager to keep that tradition alive and they’re expectations of themselves are really high, but they are also to the point where they don’t want to be last year’s team, they want to be their own team and they want to create their own identity and really just become good football players in their own right and carry on that torch that was passed to them from the guys before them.”

Alcona will have a lot of offense to replace after graduating the area’s leading rusher from a year ago in Tim Hutchinson and brother Jack who was second in the area. The two combined for nearly 3,500 yards on the ground and 42 touchdowns.

The team also lost two of the area’s top tacklers in Devon Mills and Alex Stephenson.

Despite losing a key players on both sides of the ball, the Tigers are once again experienced on the offensive line with seniors Danny Jones, Hunter Clark and Hunter White. Senior Damion Stewart is going to be an impact player for Alcona this year at a tight end position with his ability to block and make plays offensively.

Sophomore Zach Stephenson will take over the role as the team’s signal caller and the trio of Dominic Howe, Nick Rasmussen and Ethan Long will make up the team’s backfield.

“A lot of these kids got to play in that district game a year ago so they all have competed at this level and I’m feeling really good about how they are ready to compete,” Somers said. “We have a couple of nice surprises on our team this year and despite losing a lot, I think we might surprise some people this year.”

Alcona has dominated the North Star League the past several years and will be one of six teams competing in smaller version of a NSL made up of Tawas, Oscoda, Whittemore-Prescott, Rogers City and Mio who are all on the Tigers schedule.

Alcona will also be tested with a loaded non-conference slate.

The Tigers play Breckenridge, who has won 19 games the past two seasons and is coming off a regional championship appearance. Alcona also will play Sault St. Marie who is a much larger school at Division II.

The Tigers end the season with games against Vermontville Maple Valley who made the playoffs last year and Climax-Scotts who is a Class D juggernaut, having made the playoffs 15 years in a row and winning no less an eight games a year in that stretch.

“Our schedule is beefed up a little bit as far as quality of opponents that we’re playing. We’re playing a lot of schools that are bigger than we are and we’re feeling good that the schedule is one that we can get through and compete at a really high level and be ready for the playoffs if that should happen,” Somers said. “Every year we talk about playing better competition and we understand that there is going to be some travel and playing some different teams, but that just means we need to coach our kids a little harder and the kids need to be ready to go and so far they’re up for that challenge.”