Return to the Gridiron: Oscoda’s 2018 team
News Sports Editor James Andersen is taking a look back at football teams from the last 10 years, offering his view of the best team from each of the nine schools in The News’ coverage area in the span.
Preseason Outlook: Oscoda coach Mark Whitley: “Our goal is always to win as many games as possible. We want to be competitive and have our shot to win a league title and not only get back to the playoffs this year, but we want to win a few games and hopefully bring home a district title.”
Final Record: 8-2
Season in Review: With a talented class of juniors and capable playmakers dotting the roster, the Owls were eager to build on past successes in 2018. After dropping their season opener, there wasn’t much the opposition could do to slow them down.
Week after week, Oscoda made opponents look silly, earning wins over Vestaburg, Alcona, Mio, Rogers City, Tawas, Whittemore-Prescott, Muskegon Heights and Farwell. An 8-1 regular season was more than enough to earn Oscoda a second consecutive playoff berth and a pre-district matchup with Iron Mountain. Oscoda hung with the Mountaineers for a half, but Iron Mountain, shaped by past playoff experiences, got the better of the Owls in the second half.
On both sides of the ball, Oscoda’s season was one for the books. Oscoda averaged 40.6 points per game on offense and just 11.3 points per game on defense, including seven games where opponents were held to eight points or less.
Ten different Oscoda players earned all-North Star League honors and seven earned spots on the All-Alpena News team.
James’ take: Oscoda 2019 team (or perhaps even the 2020 team) could give the 2018 team a run for its money, but any way you slice it, 2018 was Oscoda’s best teams of all time. It’s hard to find a spot on the field where Oscoda didn’t have a playmaker. Whether it was Brayden Mallak launching passes to the likes of Owen Franklin and Devin Thomas, a stellar offensive line blocking for the likes of Andrew Dault or many of those same players keeping opponents in check on defense, the Owls were a talented bunch. When he took over the program in 2016. Whitley spoke of having a team that was defensively sound, physically strong and a mainstay in playoffs. The 2018 team was a group where Whitley’s goals all seemed to come to fruition, resulting in a special season.