GRAYLING – Grayling’s football team seeks to snap a two-game losing streak Friday night when the Vikings conclude the home portion of their abbreviated schedule against Kingsley at 7 p.m.
But managing it is going to be a tall order against a Kingsley team that comes in with a 3-0 record after just having defeated Traverse City St. Francis, 36-23 last Friday. St. Francis which rallied for a 42-20 victory over the Vikings two weeks ago.
“It doesn’t get any easier, that’s for sure,” Grayling coach Eric Tunney said.”Coach (Tim) Wooer has them playing pretty well. They’re a good football team.
“They don’t have many holes. They have some pretty good standout players. We’ll have to definitely bring our ‘A’ game to have a chance to win.”
Despite their losing streak, Tunney reported that the Vikings are in good spirits and have had a good week of practice. Considering everything that’s going on with the pandemic, they’re just happy to be playing. No one has been hanging their heads and keep putting in the time and energy each day in practice.
Kingsley presents a different style of offense than the Vikings saw last week against Benzie Central in a 41-28 loss.
“It’s more towards St. Francis,” Tunney said. “They want to pound it out. A little more smash mouth football. So, we’re going to have to play disciplined and match their intensity.
“They do some mis-direction stuff, but they want to pack it in double tight (ends), three backs and pound it down your face. They busted some big runs against St. Francis last week, and we’ve got to try to limit that and get off the field on defense so our offense can score some points.”
Leading rusher Owen Graves is the real deal for the Stags. Against the Gladiators he rushed for 277 yards on 14 carries behind an experienced and bruising offensive line.
The Stags, who only lost a few kids from a team that went to the state semifinals last year, stepped up on defense in the second half, effectively bottling up the Gladiators offense and holding on fourth down three different times.
Defensively, it’s the same story with the Stags only losing a few starters on that side of the line of scrimmage.
“They play hard and they come off the ball low, and they want to get after it,” Tunney said. “They (play) mostly man. They like to blitz. We struggled last week picking up the blitz, and we’ve been working on that.
“He (Wooer) wants to bring pressure, and they flow hard and fast. Offensive line wise, we have to recognize the front and get to our guys, obviously, and create some holes for our running backs.
“In the passing game, we’ve got to get separation and crisp. The offensive line has to give our quarterback time. I know it’s a lot, but if we can do those things, we should be able to move the ball and score points.”
With the Michigan Supreme Court ruling that the governor’s emergency orders are unconstitutional, the school is waiting on the Michigan High School Athletic Association to reveal if there can be more people in the stands, and what pandemic protocols must be followed.
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