Week 6 Results:
Cheboygan 28, Alpena 6Cadillac 41, Gaylord 0*Gaylord St. Mary 41, Ubly 22Grayling 48, Elk Rapids 28*Inland Lakes 56, Central Lake 30Johannesburg-Lewiston 36, Rudyard 14Mancelona 42, Pickford 6Mio 31, Rogers City 6*Onaway 25, Pellston 0Petoskey 42, T.C. Central 37** League Game
Week 7 Games:
Cheboygan (5-1) at Sault Ste. Marie (3-3)Gaylord (0-6, 0-3) at Petoskey (3-3, 1-2)*
Gaylord St. Mary (3-3, 1-2) at Mancelona (4-2, 3-0)*
Kalkaska (5-1, 3-1) at Grayling (5-1, 3-0)*Pellston (1-4, 0-2) at Inland Lakes (4-2, 3-1)*
Onaway (2-4, 1-2) at Joburg-Lewiston (4-2, 2-1)*
Mio (5-1, 4-0) at AuGres-Sims (1-5, 1-4)*
* League Game
Winless Gaylordnext for Northmen
b Ad Sedd
PETOSKEY – Tried and true, con-sistent and depend-able.That’s the waymost high schoolfootball coacheslike it.So when coach Kerry VanOr-man says he and his PetoskeyNorthmen are taking them oneat a time, one tends to take himat his word.That said, it would be hard tooverstate the importance of Petoskey’s 42-37 Big North Con-ference victory last week at Cur-tis Field over Traverse CityCentral.It was a win the Northmenneeded in the worst way, firstand foremost to keep their play-off hopes alive, but also to re-store a measure of confidencethat perhaps had slowly slippedaway during a three-game losingstreak, Petoskey’s longest sincethe 2007 season.“All in all it was a very goodwin for our kids,” VanOrmansaid. “We needed that after threetough losses. I think that from aconfidence point of view it wasbig for our kids, no doubt it.”It lifted the Northmen to 3-3overall and 1-2 in the league.Needing six wins to guaranteethemselves a playoff berth,Petoskey now faces Gaylord andAlpena in back-to-back BigNorth games. The Blue Devilsand Wildcats are a combined 1-11. The Northmen close the regu-lar season at West BranchOgemaw Heights, 4-2.“This game here really turns itback,” said Northmen senior andcaptain, Chase Ledingham, afterthe win over Central. “We startthe process again, we get rollingagain. Everyone re-starts. Weshowed what we could really do.”Which is plenty, particularlywhen the Northmen offense ishitting on all cylinder as it wasagainst the Trojans, 3-3, 1-2.The Northmen used theirtrademark ball-control offense towin a battle of contrasting stylesagainst the Trojans, whose wing-it and fling-it spread offense pro-vided plenty of highlights. Theteams combined for more than700 yards in total offense and theTrojans hit three quick-strikescoring plays, each of which cov-ered 66 yards or more.But in the end, the Northmendid what they have done so often – and so successfully – in thepast: Control the ball, control theclock, seize the lead, and grinddown the opponent.“I thought the kids up fronthad their best game of the yearand really, for whatever reason,sometimes things click withkids,” VanOrman said. “I thinkour backs ran really hard andwith some determination. I thinkyou saw a bunch of kids grow inconfidence as the game went on.It was a very good performance.”Indeed. Ledingham finishedwith 160 yards on 30 carries andscored a school-record tying fivetouchdowns, while Kurt Boucheradded 127 yards and a TD on 25attempts. The Northmen fin-ished with 334 yards on theground, and quarterback EvanWhitmore completed 4-of-5 passattempts for 35 yards.“We were prepared for this,”Ledingham said. “We were readyto go. It really means a lot. I’mproud of my line. They did agreat job. All week we reallywent hard, and we really focusedon the little things. The littlethings matter, especially in ouroffense because we need to be awell-oiled machine and if it’snot, it doesn’t go our way.”Central countered with 233passing yards from quarterbackSean Williams and four TDs fromdual-threat running back/re-ceiver Ethan Campball. Williamscompleted 16-of-28 pass attemptsfor three TDs. He connected withCampbell on two of the TDs, onecovering 66 yards, the other 18.Campbell also ran 74 and 68yards for TDs.The teams traded TDs on thegame’s first five possessions, fol-lowing nearly to a T their respec-tive offensive philosophies.In tortoise-and-the-hare fash-ion: — Petoskey struck first with a67-yard, eight-play drive, cappedby Ledingham’s 4-yard run. — Central scored on its firstplay from scrimmage, a 74-yardCampbell run. — Petoskey came back with 14-play, 72-yard march, ending in a12-yard Ledingham TD run. — Central scored on the thirdplay of its next possession, withWilliams connecting with Camp-bell on a 66-yard TD pass play. — Petoskey responded, going67 yards in 13 plays with Boucherscoring from 4 yards out.When the dust settled on thatworth-the-price-of-admission ex-change, the Northmen led, 21-14.“We both did what we do,”Central coach Tom Passinaultsaid. “We’re a spread them out,get the ball to our playmakers(type of team) and that workedextremely well for us. They grindit out and they chewed a bunchof clock.”Still, somebody had to playsome defense, and the Northmenstruck a blow late in the secondquarter, and it was a turn of events that eventually wouldprove critical.With Central working from itsown 20-yard line, Petoskey seniorsafety Steven Snider intercepteda Williams pass and returned itto the 14 yards to the Trojans’ 26.Eight plays later, Ledinghamscored on a 5-yard run andNathaniel Reed booted his fourthextra point of the night, extend-ing Petoskey’s lead to 28-14.Central got a 37-yard field goalfrom Jake Gorter as time ran outin the first half, cutting theNorthmen lead to 28-17.But clearly, the Snider inter-ception that led to a TD turnedthe game in Petoskey’s favor.And while Central continued tolap at the Northmen’s heelsthroughout the second half – theTrojans drew to 28-23 and then35-30 – Petoskey refused to relin-quish the advantage, a credit toits ball-control gind-it-out offenseoverall, and its front seven inparticular.“I think our kids, as the gamemoved on, they felt they weregoing to move the football,”VanOrman said. “Just the linesurge said a lot to me. We haven’tbeen able to do that consistentlythis year at all.”Ledingham, who now sharesthe school single-game TD markwith two legends, Irv Menzel andJoe Robbins, came up with twogame-changing plays on defenseas well.With the Northmen clinging toa 35-30 lead, Central took over atits own 28-yard line afterPetoskey’s one and only punt of the night. With the Trojans fac-ing a second-down-and-6 at theirown 33, Ledingham threwWilliams for a 3-yard loss. An in-complete pass set up a fourth-and-9 from the 30, andLedingham, blitzing from his in-side linebacker position, sackedWilliams, giving Petoskey theball at the Trojan 20 with 3 min-utes, 24 seconds remaining.Petoskey went from the 20 tothe 12, where it faced fourth-and-2. Needing just 2 yards for thefirst down, Ledingham got it, andthen some, emerging from ascrum of players just beyond theline of scrimmage and followinga devastating block by guardJames Gazarato into the endzone. Reed’s extra point kickmade it 42-30 with under 2 min-utes to play.The block by Gazarato wassymbolic of the way the North-men front seven – Gazarato, AlexPionk, Trevor Denoyer, ChandlerMatelski, Jeremy Hiatt, SheaWhitmore and Anthony Duran – performed all night.And the hope, of course, in thePetoskey camp is that that con-tinues as the Northmen continuein their quest for a playoff berth.With that, VanOrman returns tothe one-at-a-time battle cry.“We can’t even think aboutplayoffs or anything else yetuntil you get there,” he said,turning his attention to a Gay-lord team that is 0-6 under coachWill Cleaver, who is in the firstyear of his second stint incharge of the program.Cleaver coached the Blue Dev-ils from 2000-07, leading them toa 55-24 record and six playoff ap-pearances.Gaylord lost to Big North-lead-ing and unbeaten Cadillac, 41-0,last week. It’s been a struggle forthe Blue Devils to score points.Their highest point total this sea-son was 14 (in a 35-14 loss to T.C.Central), and three times theyhave been able to muster justseven points.“This is a big game for us,”VanOrman said. “They’re (Gay-lord) doing a lot of things, really,the right way. They’ve lookedtough defensively and they’veheld their own. I don’t thinktheir record indicates how wellthey’ve played, or how farthey’ve come. I think they’reheaded in the right direction.”
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Big win over T.C. Central keeps Petoskey in playoff hunt