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Wildcats aiming for massive upset against TC West

News File Photo Alpena’s Joseph Blewett (21) and a host of Wildcats swarm to a Cadillac ball carrier during the first quarter of Big North Conference football game again in Week 4. The Wildcats will travel to Thirlby Field tonight to take on Traverse City West.

ALPENA — Tonight may mark the final time the Alpena High football team will travel to Thirlby Field to take on the Traverse City West Titans.

After recent changes, the Big North Conference will be no more after this football season and it is almost certain that tonight’s matchup will be the final time the schools square up as conference foes.

“This week, our biggest thing is getting healthy for one, we had 24 guys healthy when we started Wednesday’s practice and of course the other huge thing for us is playing four quarters. That’s something we’ve been talking about for four weeks now, we have to play every single play for every single quarter. This week we need to make sure we eliminate mistakes,” Alpena coach Eric Mitchell said. “Knowing that they’re not a huge sweep team, we have to be ready to stop it because we anticipate they are going to run it because we haven’t shown that we can stop it. I think we’re going to see a heavy dose of inside power and inside zone.”

Tonight’s game will mark the 25th time that Alpena and Traverse City West have played each other.

The Wildcats (0-4, 0-2 BNC) have never officially defeated West, 0-24 overall against the Titans despite technically earning a victory in 1999. Alpena won that 1999 season-opening meeting 33-28, but was forced to forfeit that game and four other games that season due to an ineligible player.

Alpena is hoping to snap a lot of lengthy losing streaks tonight as Alpena enters a loser of 24 straight to West and is in the midst of an 11-game losing streak and seven-game conference losing streak.

With a win tonight, the Wildcats can put all of those losing streaks to rest, but doing so will be no easy task.

“We have to be laser focused all day. Laser focused on the bus trip, in the locker room and making sure we are ready to go right from the opening whistle. We’ve played well in the second half of games, we just have struggled early on in games and we don’t have the luxury of starting off slow this week, because if we do, it could get ugly fast,” Mitchell said. “For us, it’s perfecting and getting off to a fast start and getting ready to play for what could be the last time in quite a while.”

The Titans enter tonight’s matchup with a 3-1 record and are coming off their only loss of the season, falling a week ago, 42-14, to Traverse City Central.

The Titans have some impressive wins on their resume, having beat Midland, Grand Haven, and Cadillac who have a combined record of 8-4. West has been tested too as their combined opponents’ record is 11-5.

The Wildcats will need to come up with a perfect game plan and execute to perfection. If they fail to do so, this final meeting could get out of hand in a hurry.

“Executing the game plan is the hard part. All 11 players have to do their job to perfection, because there are going to be multiple times where we are one-on-one and we need that one guy to make a play,” Mitchell said. “We need to use the fact that we’re not going to see them again for a while to our advantage. We’ve talked about it all week and we know for whatever reason, we get over to Traverse City and we do not play the same. For us, it’s get off the bus and don’t worry about who’s in the crowd or what’s going on, we just need to go play. We have a great opportunity, they have a couple of kids getting college scholarships and there is going to be people watching. This should be a week where we want to get out there and fly around and make plays, not just for that, but because it’s the last chance we get to play them for a while and we want to end this series on a positive note.”

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