Wildcats hope to get going offensively vs. Blue Devils
For the second consecutive week, something has to give.
Alpena and Gaylord meet tonight in a Big North Conference matchup that features a pair of winless teams and two programs that have struggled offensively through their first two games.
Not only have the Wildcats (0-2, 0-2 BNC) been unable to put points on the board in either of their first two games, Alpena has yet to make a trip inside the red zone.
The result of a stagnant offense and missed opportunities has resulted in Alpena being outscored 76-0 through its first two games.
The Wildcats are hoping much could change this week as the team finally gets a full week of preparation with head coach Eric Mitchell who returned to practice one week ago.
With a full week of practice with its head coach, Alpena is aiming for a big turnaround on Senior Night when the Wildcats welcome the Blue Devils.
“Practices have been good, it’s very nice to be back. We have really talked about eliminating mistakes. Despite what the final score may indicate, we are in both games, but we just shot ourselves in the foot early,” Mitchell said. “We missed wide open guys, missed assignments and we realize we haven’t played awful, but it comes down to doing our job and we’ve spent a lot of time making sure there is no miscommunication. We need to know exactly what we’re doing on every play.”
Big problems through the first two games for Alpena has been its inability to run the football effectively and the way it starts games.
The Wildcats will need to get off to a fast start on the offensive side of the ball and put pressure on its opponents, something they haven’t been able to do the first two weeks.
Unlike the Wildcats, Gaylord has scored this year. The Blue Devils held a 14-6 lead in their opener against Petoskey, but were held scoreless the rest of the way and then could only muster seven points against Cadillac in a 21-7 defeat last week.
Blue Devils quarterback Corey Deer has displayed the ability to hurt opponents with his arm and his legs. Running back Quinn Schultz and wide receiver Gavin Freeman also possess the ability to make life difficult for Alpena.
“Although Gaylord is 0-2, they are not a bad team. I think we match up very well with them athletically and size wise the same way. We feel like we know exactly what we’re going to see,” Mitchell said. “I don’t want to say or make it seem like they’re predictable, but we feel like we know what plays they have that work and we need to just eliminate those plays.”
The Wildcats will once again have the advantage of playing on their home field and will have added motivation playing on Senior Night. Alpena is hoping for a similar performance to last year when it traveled to Gaylord and blew out the Blue Devils 30-6.
Last year’s win for the Wildcats snapped a four-game losing streak against Gaylord and three of the last four meetings between the two schools have been decided by a touchdown or less. Alpena was on the short end of a close defeat each of those three games.
It’s been eight years since the Wildcats began a season 0-3 and seven years since Gaylord started 0-3.
Tonight, one team will suffer the unfortunate fate of being winless through three weeks, while the other looks to turn the page and gain some much needed confidence.
“We want to come out and punch them in the teeth right from the opening snap and keep that intensity for four quarters,” Mitchell said. “We need to make sure we start strong and the rest will take of itself. We need to continuously build the idea that we can overcome anything and if we start off fast, we won’t have to.”