Return to the Gridiron: Onaway’s 2015 team

News File Photo Onaway’s Brad Brewbaker

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: Onaway coach Jim Cleaver: “It’s a big learning curve, just trying to learn a new ball game pretty much. But the changes are going good so far. They’re getting it down and I think we’re going to be alright.”

Final Record: 5-4

Season in Review: The 2015 season brought plenty of change for the Onaway football program as the Cardinals began their first season of 8-Player football. After making some adjustments in the offseason, Onaway proved it was up for the challenge.

After losing their season opener against Rapid River, Onaway rebounded to beat Bromley and Stephenson. Onaway went on to collect wins over Bellaire, Pellston and Charlton Heston and finished the season with a 5-4 record, narrowly missing out on a playoff spot.

Though the 8-Player game often sees higher score games, Onaway’s offense rolled in 2015, averaging more than 40 points a game, including four games where the Cardinals score more than 50 points.

Onaway’s two defensive standouts–Brad Brewbaker and DJ Fenstermaker–finished among the area’s leaders in tackles, including 106 from Brewbaker and both were named to the All-Alpena News team. But the Cardinals also had plenty of offensive firepower, with Brewbaker, Cortez Washington, Derrick Wregglesworth and Isaac Nave among those who made big plays throughout the season.

James’ take: It’s still crazy to think that when I started in 2010, only one local team played eight-player football. Now a good chunk of the North Star League is playing it, as is Onaway. Admittedly, I only saw Onaway play a few times that season, but what I did see was impressive. Wregglesworth was an outstanding playmaker at wide receiver and Brewbaker was a two-way force who did whatever was asked of him. It’s often been the case that teams going from 11-Player to 8-Player football find immediate success, especially offensively and Onaway did that to put together a successful year that had them in the playoff hunt right to the end of the regular season.


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