Alpena senior Guthrie nears career rushing record

News File Photo Alpena running back Logan Guthrie (34) eludes an Escanaba defender during an August game at Wildcat Stadium. Guthrie needs 182 yards to break Alpena’s career rushing record and could do so tonight against Petoskey. Last season Guthrie ran for 226 yards and four touchdowns against the Northmen.

Last year, Logan Guthrie torched Petoskey’s defense for more than 200 rushing yards and four touchdowns.

If he has a similar performance tonight, Alpena’s senior running back could take a special place in program history.

As the Alpena football team returns home to host Petoskey for homecoming tonight, Guthrie sits on the cusp of history. He sits just 182 rushing yards shy of breaking Austin Leeck’s career mark of 2,652 and has a chance to do so tonight.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Wildcat Stadium.

For three seasons, Guthrie has been a workhorse for the Wildcats and has flourished in Alpena’s run-first offense, averaging a touchdown a game for his career. He currently has 2,471 career rushing yards including 844 this season. He’s topped 100 rushing yards in every game but one in 2018 and is averaging 120 yards per game.

“He’s carried the ball a lot of times and he’s run sweep, he’s run trap, he’s run power. He’s run pretty much every run play we have and he just keeps grinding,” Alpena coach Aaron Sims said. “Even when he’s a little dinged up, he just keeps pounding through and that’s really all you can ask from the guys is to give their best all the time.”

Guthrie emerged as a playmaker in Alpena’s backfield as a sophomore and finished the season with 742 yards on 114 carries. He also had one touchdown catch.

As a junior, Guthrie improved on his numbers and gained 885 yards on 169 carries with 10 rushing touchdowns and two touchdown catches.

Despite defenses scheming to stop him this season, Guthrie has put up strong numbers again. In seven games he has 844 yards and nine touchdowns on 151 attempts; an average of 5.5 yards per carry. As one of Alpena’s biggest scoring threats out of the backfield, Guthrie has embraced his status as one of the top runners in the Big North Conference and said the extra defensive attention has made him a better player.

“It makes you better because when you know everyone’s coming after you, you’ve got to think and you’ve got to know which way to go. You’ve got to know when to cut and it just makes you a better player,” Guthrie said. “When you don’t get stopped, you know you did your job, you know you did a great job.”

Leeck did his job as Alpena’s premier back from 2008-2010 and broke Alpena’s career rushing record late in his junior season. He finished his career with 2,652 yards on 474 carries, averaging 5.6 yards per carry and 98 per game.

By comparison, Guthrie has 2,471 career rushing yards on 434 attempts, averaging 5.7 yards per carry and 98 per game.

Recently, Guthrie saw some video of Leeck leading the Wildcats to victory over Traverse City Central in overtime and was impressed by what he saw. In that 2009 game, Leeck scored the game-winning touchdown on a four-yard run and finished the game with 126 yards and three scores on 27 carries.

A similar performance tonight could put Guthrie in a class all his own.

“I’ve known him for quite a while,” Guthrie said of Leeck. “He’s a great guy.”

Alpena has lost its last five games, but faces off against a run-oriented Petoskey squad who enters the game looking to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot.

The Northmen are coming off of a dramatic victory over Gaylord and are expecting a physical contest where yards will be hard-earned. Petoskey will once again be without four starters including two offensive lineman. With the game-time temperature projected at 42 degrees and a slight chance of winter weather, the team that can run the ball effectively and stop the run on defense will likely come out the winner.

“I’m sure the crowd is going to be wild and it’s going to be in our favor. I’m just really looking forward to it,” Guthrie said. “We do better (defensively) against running teams. You saw that against TC West and Escanaba,” Guthrie said.

Guthrie got dinged up in the first half of last week’s loss against Traverse City Central and was held to 33 yards on 12 carries. Aside from that, he’s been a hard man to catch, averaging at least 110 yards per game in Alpena’s other six contests. His season high came two weeks ago as he ran for 180 yards on 37 carries.

He’s also within striking distance of Alpena’s career touchdown record. In 25 career games Guthrie has 25 total touchdowns and is nine shy of the 34 Leeck scored during his career.

If he can help the Wildcats to a win tonight and give a supportive homecoming crowd something extra to cheer for, breaking the record would be the icing on the cake for Guthrie.

“I’m more concerned about the team wins and stuff, but if that happens I’d like to have that on my shoulders; something to remember and something to leave my mark at AHS,” Guthrie said.

Guthrie has come a long away from his initial football goal, making the varsity team and should he break the record tonight, Alpena’s coaching staff and players will be happy to celebrate with him.

It will be even sweeter if they can come out with a victory.

“If we can win, it’d be awesome. It’s going to be awesome either way. We’re looking for wins, and personal achievements (paired together with) wins are definitely awesome. We still like personal achievements, but we still want to do them through the team and winning,” Sims said. “At the end of the day, Logan, this will be my third year with him and having those records like that is pretty special too.”