GRAYLING – Kingsley is roaring toward a potential perfect season, while Grayling is mired in a losing streak that reached three straight games following the Vikings’ 40-21 loss to the Stags in their final home game of the season Friday night.
Not much has gone right for the Vikings since a season opening win over Kalkaska, and the schedule hasn’t been kind to them either. Kingsley was just the latest buzzsaw they’ve run into in the last three weeks.
It’s been like facing a murderer’s row. In order, the Vikings went against Traverse City St. Francis, Benzie Central and now Kingsley, teams that capitalize on any mistakes and make you pay.
“Kingsley is a good team, and was a great challenge for us,” Grayling coach Eric Tunney said. “These are the types of games you need if you want to make a run in the playoffs.
“It was not the outcome we wanted, but I love the way these kids continue to fight. (Kingsley) came out and took an early lead, (but) our kids never flinched and just kept playing hard.”
The Stags quickly jumped out to a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, establishing command and putting the Vikings in comeback mode. Although they never quit, and fought hard throughout the game, the Vikings could never come close to the Stags than two touchdowns.
Anthony Fisher got the Vikings on the scoreboard when he clipped off a 58-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
Kingsley came right back, answering that score with a five-yard touchdown.
Grayling didn’t flinch, however, as David Millikin scored from two yards out, and the Vikings kicked the extra point again, but still trailed by 14 points, 28-14 at the half.
But the Stags scored a touchdown in the third quarter on 21-yard run, and then punched in another in the fourth on a two-yard scamper to drive ahead, 36-14.
Grayling snapped its scoring drought with a 40-yard run from Millikin, but the Vikings failed to score again.
“They make you pay for any little mistakes,” Tunney said of the Vikings. “There’s a reason they went to the semifinals last year, and a lot of those same kids played Friday night.
“We’ve got some kids that are still learning and are getting better each week. We have to continue to get better each day and each week, and hopefully peak at the right time for the playoffs.”
Hunter Ventline was 9 of 19 passing for 106 yards. Andrew Kanary had five receptions for 86 yards. Millikin gained 90 yards on 15 carries with two touchdowns. Fisher had three carries for 61 yards and a score.
Millikin was the defensive leader for the Vikings with 17 tackles, eight of them solo hits. Fisher was also in on 17 stops, with six solos. Wakeley had 10, five solos, and Reid Cvitkovich made 14 tackles, two solos.
Kingsley pounded out 342 yards rushing, led by Owen Graves who had 184 yards on 20 attempts with two touchdowns. Aiden Schier added 77 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown.
The Stags close out this pandemic shortened season with two road games, the first this Friday at Cheboygan.
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