Wildcats, Titans aiming for better results in Week 2 clash
Two teams that wasted no time putting opening week behind them were Alpena and Traverse City West.
Tonight the Big North Conference foes will aim for better results as they meet on Park Family Field at Wildcat Stadium in Alpena’s home opener.
Alpena and West are coming off disappointing losses in Week 1. The Wildcats were shut out 27-0 at Cadillac and struggled to get into any kind of rhythm offensively.
The Titans also endured a frustrating defeat as they were blown out by rival Traverse City Central 53-13 and trailed 47-0 at halftime.
Not much went right for either team, but both schools have had a week to make adjustments with the hopes of being better prepared and flipping the script tonight.
The Wildcats played Cadillac tough in the opening quarter, but couldn’t keep the Vikings’ option attack in check as a pair of touchdowns in the second and third quarters were more than enough for Cadillac to win. Alpena’s biggest problem a week ago was their inability to move the football, especially on the ground. Alpena was held to just 196 yards of offense.
Junior quarterback Ryan Voltz attempted 30 passes, completing 17 for 153 yards and the Wildcats could only muster 43 yards rushing.
Alpena head coach Eric Mitchell will also be back on the sideline tonight and being forced to quarantine for the last week. Mitchell returned to practice yesterday and Alpena’s head man is hoping his team fixes last week’s mistakes.
“It’s tough not being here. I watched what I could, listened to what I could and no matter what, you’re not there so even though I was up to date, it’s still not like being able to give the input and deep down it really hurt me,” Mitchell said. “Every single mistake that we made is fixable. A lot of our mistakes were effort mistakes. We didn’t have low pad level and we didn’t play off the ball real well. I thought defensively we did our part in the first few drives. We know that all of the mistakes that we made last week are fixable.”
West featured a new offense against the Trojans, but found little success.
Titans junior quarterback Branden Konchek was intercepted three times in the game, despite scoring a touchdown on a quarterback draw late in the contest. The Titans’ other score came from Christian Boivin who ripped off a 65-yard touchdown early in the third quarter.
Unlike other teams under West head coach Greg Vaughan, this Titans team tried using a passing attack last week instead of the run and were outgained 471-245 in the game.
Despite the slow start against Central, Vaughan believes the changes on offense will eventually lead to the bigger goals in the long run.
With both teams having struggled on the offensive side of the ball in the opener, tonight’s matchup may set up for a closer contest than what many are used to seeing when these two schools do battle.
The Wildcats are 0-23 all time against their opponent tonight and haven’t come within single digits of a victory in two decades.
“For us, one of the biggest things is we need to establish the run. Now, that doesn’t mean run the ball every play, but we need to establish some sort of running game and we were unable to do that last week. When we do that, it will open up our passing and we’ll have better success,” Mitchell said. “West is in a new offense and they tried some different things against us last year. I truly think they are going to out-athlete us. They weren’t able to out-athlete Central last week and I think they’re coming in here thinking they’re going to out-athlete us. They have skill, they have speed, but I also think they have a lot of questions right now.”
West will test the Wildcat defense with a passing attack and Alpena will counter with what it hopes will be a more improved ground game with the ability to spread the field and air the ball out.
“The first couple of series will be absolutely crucial for us. If we can go out, punch them in the teeth and put them on their heels a bit, that’s when they’ll understand they’re not rolling through this team like they’re used to,” Mitchell said. “I’m excited to be back and I feel really good about our chances.”