Wildcats hope to end road trip with win at Cadillac

After beginning the season 2-0 for the first time since 2004, the Alpena football team came up on the short end of a 31-22 defeat at Gaylord.

The Wildcats (2-1) got off to a slow start in the first half and trailed by three scores. Alpena did everything it could to mount a comeback, beginning with a dominant third quarter where the Wildcats scored twice and converted both two point tries to cut the lead to two.

Alpena is determined to bounce back tonight against a winless Cadillac team and end its three-game road trip with its first Big North Conference win.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

“Cadillac is Cadillac. They’re going to run their flexbone offense and they’re going to play physical on both sides of the ball. It’s definitely been a good game for us the past couple of years,” Alpena coach Aaron Sims said. “We have to go out with a mindset to execute at a high level, play violent to start the game instead of waiting until the second half and match their intensity because they’re going to be hungry with where they’re sitting right now and they’re going to be hungry for a win and we have to be hungry as well. It’s going to be a tough matchup for us.”

The past two meetings between the two programs have been close battles. Two years ago, the Vikings escaped with a 14-13 home victory. Last season, the Wildcats prevailed at home 23-14 for its only conference win under Sims thus far.

The Wildcats are hoping to end their road trip on a winning not before they play four of their final five games at home.

“It’s a big game for us. It’s the biggest game of the year at this point. Every game is important and we’re going to treat this one like it’s the most important game of the year and after that we’ll think about our home games, but for now, our focus is right here,” Sims said.

Despite coming up short last week, the Wildcats did see some good things and took some positives from the loss. Sims said Alpena’s improvements need to begin with putting together a full four quarters of football.

“I think we learned that we have to come out and play right away. That’s a lesson that I hope we learned. Our guys need to come out with more energy and play physical, violent and with fanatical effort from quarter one to the last snap of quarter four,” Sims said. “I thought we played much more physical and violent and with great effort in the second half and I think it showed, but you can;t wait, you have to go out and get after it right away and not dig yourself a hole.”

The Wildcats must keep close tabs on Cadillac junior quarterback Tipp Baker, who has been a workhorse on offense. Baker is a dual threat signal caller and has done a majority of his work with his legs this season, carrying the ball 70 times for 368 yards and three touchdowns. Baker also has 114 yards through the air and a touchdown, but has been turnover-prone as he’s fumbles the ball twice and has a pair of interceptions on the season.

Along with Baker, Isaac Heyd has 177 rushing yards and a touchdown through three games and Noah Cochrane, Alec Barczewski and Matthew Green have all found the end zone for Cadillac this season.

The Wildcats will stick to their plan and continue to pound the ball with their Wing-T offense led by Logan Guthrie who has racked up 367 yards and seven touchdowns on 56 carries. Jordan Schultz has 277 rushing yards and touchdown on 39 carries and Alpena also got Robert Sheldon back in the mix last week as he ran for 91 yards on 10 carries and scored a touchdown.

“I think the lesson we learned last week was not everything is going to go our way, but a lot of good things will happen when you play hard and with fanatical effort. There wasn’t a good feeling because at the end of the day a loss is a loss and this team has bigger expectations than feeling good after a loss,” Sims said. “It’s another conference game and it’s a big thing to get that first conference win. It’s another game and at the end of the day it’s going to be a win or a loss and we want to end up in the win column. We’re going to do everything we can to keep the good things going that we have going. There’s a little bump in the road, but we want to get back on track to do the good things and having the good results after the game.”