Wildcats’ season ends with blowout loss at Midland
MIDLAND–The Alpena High football team was blessed with an opportunity to get a taste of postseason football, something the Wildcats haven’t experienced in nearly two decades.
With that opportunity came an uphill challenge as Alpena drew a first round playoff matchup against the undefeated Midland Chemics.
The Wildcats knew coming in they would need a near flawless performance to pull off any kind of miracle in Midland. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, they made the same mistakes that haunted them all season and the Chemics made quick work of Alpena, handing the Wildcats a 44-0 defeat and putting an end to Alpena’s season.
“We had chances again early and we do what we did,” Alpena coach Eric Mitchell said. “It’s been a frustrating year and the way we finished tonight epitomized our season. All the way around, it was frustrating today because we had our chances early, but once again made way too many mistakes.”
The Wildcats doomed themselves from the start.
After going three and out on the game’s opening possession, the Chemics committed a personal foul, roughing the punter, allowing Alpena a fresh set of downs at midfield.
The Wildcats put their next snap on the turf and turned the football over.
Alpena caught another break as Midland failed to score. The Chemics dropped a wide open touchdown pass in the end zone on fourth down and gave the ball right back to Alpena.
Once again, the Wildcats went three and out and this time had the punt blocked. The Chemics took over deep in Alpena territory and opened the scoring when quarterback Al Money threw a 30 yard strike to Ty Smith for a touchdown.
“They has a short field early in the game and that was frustrating and it was just the story of our season,” Mitchell said. “We were banged up coming in and suffered a few key injuries during the game that hurt and we just couldn’t get our run game going.”
Midland took advantage of each opportunity the Wildcats gave them after the first two possessions and added another touchdown in the opening quarter and three more in the second quarter, including the final score of the half when Eli Gordon received a punt after a safety and weaved his way through the Wildcat special teams for a 60 yard touchdown to give Midland a 37-0 halftime lead.
“Despite the outcome, I think the experience of playoff football was good for everyone to get this opportunity. We explained all week that there is a huge difference between the regular season and postseason. Everything intensifies in the playoffs,” Mitchell said. “For is it was great for the program to get that extra week of practice and allow some of our underclassmen to come up and get playing time and experience. Little things like that will definitely help the program.”
Alpena’s best scoring chance came on the final possession of the game after a running clock was put into affect during the entire second half.
The Wildcats ran 17 plays that spanned nearly the entire fourth quarter as they tried to avoid the shutout. They came up just short as a pair of dropped passes late forced the Wildcats to turn the ball over. The final seconds ran off the clock as Alpena’s disappointing season came to an end.
“For us, we start in the weight room on Monday. We have to start lifting and retool some things defensively and offensively we need to work on our offensive line,” Mitchell said. “It’s a heart thing, it’s a desire thing and if you don’t have the desire to be great, it’s hard to be great. Not one thing really went our way this season, despite that, we are excited for the future of our program and we’re not going to let this bad season define us as a program going forward.”