Alpena’s perfect ending
Wildcats win on Senior Night, Guthrie breaks rushing record
The Alpena High football team couldn’t have scripted a much better ending to the season.
The Wildcats entered the season finale in the midst of a frustrating six-game losing streak, but had a golden opportunity to finish the year on a positive note as they welcomed Chelsea on Senior Night.
Emotions were running high as 15 Alpena seniors played their final high school football game in front of a home crowd and standout Logan Guthrie entered the contest on the verge of making history by becoming the school’s all-time leading rusher.
The added motivation was all Alpena needed to put together a dominant performance and overwhelm Chelsea, beating the Bulldogs 28-14 on Friday.
“The kids came out and battled tonight. They made a commitment to each other to play their butts off and they did. There were ups and downs, but one thing we did is we kept fighting the entire time and at the end of the day, I know this is what we’re capable of doing week in and week out. To finish like this was just awesome to watch us mash a team in the face and come out and play tough defense,” Alpena coach Aaron Sims said. “It’s definitely a great way to put our seniors out and really help the juniors get a good foundation for really taking over the program next year.”
The Bulldogs (6-3) displayed their ability to throw the ball early on and took a lead with four minutes left in the opening quarter when Quinn Starkey connected with Hunter Neff for a 19 yard touchdown.
Chelsea’s lead lasted just over five minutes before the Wildcats responded with a 10-play scoring drive to tie the game up at seven.
On a night where Alpena (3-6) honored its seniors, it was junior Jordan Schultz who led the way for the Wildcats as he scored Alpena’s first touchdown and wore down the Chelsea defense on his way to 150 yards on 24 carries.
On Alpena’s next possesion, the Wildcats converted three fourth down attempts and sustained a 16 play drive that resulted in another rushing score, this time from Eric Troy who pinballed his way up the middle for a seven yard touchdown to give Alpena a 14-7 lead.
“Tonight was just a perfect example of what happens when you work your butt off for four quarters. Our offensive line came out and gave our backs opportunities to make things happen and our backs did by running tough,” Sims said. “You could tell throughout the course of the game that they (Chelsea) aren’t used to having teams come out and try to just run them over. They are not used to the kind of physicality that we brought tonight and we came out and punched them in the face.”
After taking a 14-7 lead into the break, the Bulldogs responded by taking the opening kickoff of the second half back for a touchdown to tie the game up at 14.
Moments later, history was made 1:51 into the third quarter when Guthrie took a handoff inside the tackle and bounced to the outside for a 10-yard gain to cement his name in the record books as Alpena’s career rushing leader.
“A record and a win with all of my brothers, the win most importantly is the best thing that could have happened today and it will definitely go down as the greatest memory that I’ve ever had,” Guthrie said. “There was a lot of excitement when I broke the record and you could definitely tell that they were targeting me for most of the game, but that teaches you to play better and I’m glad I was able to play through it, get the extra yards and if I couldn’t get the yards, I was blocking for the guys running behind me and I thought I did a good job with that. In the end we got the win and I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Guthrie finished the game with 85 yards rushing, ending his senior campaign with 1,073 yards on 187 carries. For his career, Guthrie goes into the record book as the new rushing king with exactly 2,700 yards.
Momentum quickly started to shift Alpena’s way late as it regained the lead when they had the Bulldogs pinned back in their own territory and Eli Winter stepped in front of a pass and took it back 30 yards for a score to give the Wildcats a 20-14 lead.
Alpena recovered an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff to gain even more momentum, but the Wildcats were unable to turn it into points.
Alpena’s defense took over the rest of the way and held the Bulldogs scoreless the rest of the way after the Wildcats came up with another crucial turnover as Troy delivered a hit that knocked the ball loose from receiver Parker Murphy and the Wildcats recovered on their own 26 yard line.
Despite not converting on the turnover, Alpena forced a three and out on Chelsea’s next possession and the Wildcats orchestrated a perfect drive that chewed up nearly five minutes of game clock. They went 80 yards on 14 plays and Winter put the game on ice with a four yard touchdown with 1:59 left as Alpena converted the two-point attempt to give them a 28-14 lead.
“Our guys had their focus on tonight and it was awesome. That is the stuff we’re capable of doing and it was fun to watch,” Sims said. “This was the first third year class for me and it’s just awesome to see them go out like this.”