Oscoda football team ready to build on recent success

OSCODA — After reaching the playoffs two of the last three seasons, the Oscoda football team is looking to build on its recent success and get back to the playoffs in 2018.

The Owls ended their playoff drought in 2015 by reaching the postseason for the first time in 14 years. After missing the playoffs in 2016, Oscoda got back to the playoffs last year after a 6-4 finish.

This year, the goal for Oscoda is to not only make it back to the playoffs, but the Owls have their eyes set on winning a playoff game for the first time since 2000.

“Our goal is always to win as many games as possible. We want to be competitive and have our shot to win a league title and not only get back to the playoffs this year, but we want to win a few games and hopefully bring home a district title,” Oscoda coach Mark Whitley said.

The Owls remain in a smaller version of the North Star League with Alcona, Mio, Rogers City, Tawas and Whittemore-Prescott.

Oscoda opens the season tonight when they travel to play Houghton Lake, who has made the playoffs the past two years. Among the Owls’ other non-conference matchups, they will play Vestaburg in Week 2 and finish the regular season with games against Muskegon Heights and Farwell.

“We need to come out and play hard every week. I will say we are confident heading into this season. We know our schedule is going to be tough because our conference is always strong, but I think we’ll stack up well against anyone this season,” Whitley said.

Despite graduating a lot of talent from a team that made the playoffs a season ago, the Owls have reloaded and brought up a lot of talent from a junior varsity team that went undefeated last year.

Out of the 23 players that made up Oscoda’s roster this season, the eight juniors on the varsity team this year have never lost a high school game, having run the table the past two years at the JV level, so with this talented group of juniors comes experience and a winning mindset.

Along with a talented junior class, Oscoda has capable playmakers on the entire roster.

The Owls will be led by two-way starter Jacob Condor who was a second team all-NSL selection for his efforts last season. Condor will play offensive and defensive line and be a key piece to Oscoda’s success this season.

Junior Brayden Mallak and sophomore Owen Franklin will see time under center, with both capable of playing the quarterback position. Mallak and Franklin will both see significant time, but Mallak will likely be the primary signal caller for the Owls. Both are dual-threat quarterbacks that have the capability to run or pass when needed.

Nathan Moeller will return for his senior season after sitting out last year. Moeller will play a split end position on offense and will spend time at linebacker on the defensive side of the ball.

Junior running backs Andrew Dault and Robert Host will make up the backfield along with sophomore fullback Caleb Nagel. Dault finished last season with 570 yards and eight touchdowns on 82 carries. An Oscoda backfield consisting of Dault, Host, Mallak and Franklin is going to give the Owls plenty of options as the team is loaded with speed a big play capabilities. Nagel will also play a linebacker position on defense.

“We are going to be fast and physical. Our junior class comes on to the varsity team this year having never lost a high school game so they know how to win and what it takes,” Whitley said. “We’ve been in the playoffs two of the last three years. The kids understand what it takes to get back there and what we need to do to win a playoff game. We want to win districts and know that it takes winning a few playoff games, but I think we have momentum form the previous years on our side and we’re going to build off of our recent success and hope it leads to a good year for us.”