Swami feeling a time crunch
Some things change and some things stay the same. With the first day of school always changing, Swami has been feeling a little bit of a time crunch this week. Since football season starts before Labor Day, it cuts down on Swami’s time to prepare his column, so he feels time pressured. But he feels that is when he does his best work.
There are merits to starting a column early and to working under pressure. But for now, this week’s column is done. Let the games begin!
ALPENA (0-0) at ESCANABA–THURSDAY–Week 1 brings a familiar opponent for the Wildcats. Last year was shocking because Escanaba came in as the favorite and was spanked by Alpena. That contest had Swami wondering were the Eskymos really that down or had the Wildcats suddenly found their niche and finally on the way to a successful season? In the weeks to come, the answer became very clear. Escanaba made it to the regional finals with a 9-3 record, whereas the Wildcats would only garner three wins.
That was last season and now it’s time to look to this season. Escanaba not only has home field advantage, but comes in with experience, except for some questions at quarterback. Coach Dave Howes says it will be a challenge to find someone to step in and not miss a beat. This could be a plus for the Wildcats, as everything goes through the quarterback position and no consistency won’t make for much scoring. The defense of the Eskymos misses very little though and could give Alpena’s new quarterback trouble as well.
There are many holes first year Alpena coach Eric Mitchell must fill including at running back and quarterback. Defensively, at least three veterans are gone, but Swami believes the Wildcats have a nucleus that can keep them in the game.
Swami sees both defenses holding offense at bay. The real question is which offense will get into a rhythm?
As much as he hates to go with the opposition, he has a sense the backfield of the Eskymos’ will carry Escanaba’s new quarterback of Escanaba and give him the confidence needed to get them over the top.
Swami Sez: Escanaba 28, Alpena 13.
HILLMAN (0-0) at POSEN (0-0)–FRIDAY– This would have been one of the better North Star League matchups, but both teams have shifted to the Midwest Central Michigan 8-man Conference and Swami thinks this should be a showcase game.
Hillman returns just about everyone and some conference members have listed them as the toughest team. Posen could be the dark horse in the conference; they have difference makers returning and it remains to be seen how the Vikings will fare. Posen should have a solid line on both sides of the ball, with the key being Gage Kaszubowski as he goes so will the offensive and defensive lines. Quarterback George Kroll will have plenty of options with Eyan Hincka, AJ Brunet, Tyler Brunet, Kyle Kensa and Chase Dubie, who are all capable of handling and catching the ball.
In its first year playing 8-man football Hillman did remarkable well. Looking over the roster, The All-Knowing-One only sees more woes for the competition. Seniors Gunner Mellingen and Caleb Sanders are a one-two punch that will provide not only yardage, but the ability to break out for a big gainer on every play. Sanders racked up 820 yards in only six games, while Mellingen used his 1,500 yards all purpose yards to cross the goal line 25 times. With nine seniors on the team, coach Cody Allen can switch up players with out missing a beat.
Swami sees this being a high scoring affair as both offenses will find the end zone regularly.
Swami Sez: Hillman 52, Posen 36.
CENTRAL LAKE (0-0) at ONAWAY (0-0)–THURSDAY–It had been six long seasons since Onaway has earned a playoff spot. The Cardinals have good numbers, but it is difficult to get a read on Central Lake. It finished 4-4 last season, but won a state title in 2017. With experienced players back, the Trojans could give Onaway trouble.
It should be an interesting after a good year like the Cardinals. Swami sees 11 juniors of the roster, which can only bode well for the next two seasons. Senior Austin Nash will take over the quarterback duties and will have plenty of help in the backfield with the likes of Kevin Pearson, Brendan Fenstermaker and Daniel Price. The entire offensive line returns as well. Question marks could surface on the defensive side. Taking that into consideration, the All-Knowing-One says the Cardinals may experience some growing pains early, but will jell as the season goes on.
Coach Steve Klinge has a realistic outlook on the season and the Cardinals will take it one game at a time. Onaway will get a good sense of how things may play out with this tough test.
Swami Sez: Onaway 26, Central Lake 21.
ROGERS CITY (0-0) at WHITTEMORE-PRESCOTT (0-0)–FRIDAY–Rogers City is hoping to build on last season’s success. The Cardinals of Whittemore-Prescott would like nothing better then run the football down the throats of the Hurons.
The Cardinals may have lost running back Ridge Schutte to graduation, but have a shifty junior, Dakota McKuen, waiting in the wings. If this spring’s track season was any indication, McKuen could leave many a defender eating dirt en route to the end zone. Schutte was durable, but Swami thinks the quickness and speed of McKeun, will gain him an inside and outside edge.
Rogers City coach Jesse Fenstermaker plans to mold his offense around an experienced team. Fenstermaker has handed the keys to Isaac Hein to direct the offense. Hein will have a full backfield consisting of Jaylen Fleming, Lewis Fleming, J.D. Ellenberger, along with junior Clayton Henry, to work with.
If the Hurons get bogged down, they can use Nick Freel, Matt Newhouse, Drew Flewelling or a run back coming out of the backfield to get the passing game going. The Cardinals may have a workhorse in McKuen, but the All-Knowing-One thinks the Hurons have more horses in this contest.
Swami Sez: Rogers City 28, Whittemore-Prescott 20.