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Slow start dooms Wildcats in loss to Cadillac

News Photo by Jonny Zawacki Alpena’s Kadyn Budnik (32) tries to bring down Cadillac running back Kaleb McKinley (19) during the second quarter of a Big North Conference football game on Friday on Park Family Field at Wildcat Stadium.

ALPENA — The Alpena High football team entered Week 4 shorthanded and turned to senior Ryan Voltz to command the offense under center.

Cadillac faced a similar situation, starting a backup quarterback due to the absence of star signal caller Aden Gurden.

The Vikings didn’t miss a beat though as they started fast, jumped out to a big lead and got a solid performance from backup quarterback Charlie Howell.

In his first varsity start, Howell led Cadillac’s well-oiled machine of an offense past the Wildcats, 37-6, Friday at Park Family Field at Wildcat Stadium.

Alpena (0-4, 0-2 BNC) was doomed after an abysmal start to the game as the Vikings scored early and often.

Cadillac (3-1, 1-1 BNC) found the endzone 48 seconds into the game when Chris Reinhold ran 24 yards for a touchdown on the third play from scrimmage.

After forcing a Wildcats three and out on their first offensive possession, Howell and the Vikings struck again when Howell connected with Caden Windover for a 34 yard pitch and catch to put Alpena in a 15-0 hole six minutes into the contest.

“It’s frustrating. We talk about it all week, about how we need to play all four quarters and especially come out and start fast and tonight we did not do that,” Alpena coach Eric Mitchell said.

Voltz was picked off on Alpena’s ensuing possession and Cadillac turned it into three more points after a field goal to take an 18-0 lead early in the second quarter.

But the Vikings weren’t finished as they added another score with 7:09 left in the first half when Kaleb McKinley found pay dirt from a yard out to extend the lead to 25-0.

The Wildcats responded by putting together their best drive and it resulted in points when Voltz tossed a 26-yard touchdown to Brady Niedzwiecki with 53 seconds remaining in the half.

Closing the first half has been an issue for the Wildcats defensively this season as they’ve allowed opponents to march down the field in the final seconds and score.

It nearly happened again as Cadillac went 49 yards in 49 seconds, but was stopped at the two yard line.

“We could not stop trap. We knew what they were going to do, but we couldn’t stop it,” Mitchell said. “We have to be able to stop trap, until we figure that out, we are going to struggle because teams are going to continue running it because they know we can’t stop it.”

Cadillac’s offense slowed a bit in the second half, but still managed a pair of touchdowns. Alpena failed to get much going offensively and suffered its 12th consecutive loss.

“The effort was there again tonight, but we fail to start fast and can’t seem to put together four quarters of football. It’s hard to understand and extremely frustrating, but we have to get it figured out,” Mitchell said.

Offensively, Voltz was 8-of-12 passing for 133 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.

McKinley and Reinhold combined for 175 yards on the ground with 85 and 90 yards rushing respectively.

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