After the Alcona football team made the playoffs last season, Tigers' coach Dave Schneider let his team know a new standard had been set for the program.
"I told them, 'Guys, you know how good this feels. The key is going to be to come back and start right here next year,'" Schneider said.
The Tigers have done just that this season and after finishing the regular season at 9-0, they were rewarded with a home playoff game. They'll host McBain at 7:30 p.m. tonight in a Division 7 predistrict game.
News File Photo
Alcona’s Garrette Norling, second from right, takes a handoff from Cody Franklin (8) during a game against Mio last week at Alcona High School. The Tigers will host McBain at 7:30 p.m. tonight in a Division 7 predistrict game.
Alcona's Power-T offense has wreaked havoc on opposing defenses this season to the tune of more than 47 points per game. Tonight however, the Tigers will line up with an opponent that favors the same offense. McBain (5-4) has used the Power-T with great effectiveness this season, despite being in somewhat of a rebuilding year.
The Tigers have played a few teams that run the Power-T and stopped them easily, but Schneider knows what kind of damage the offense can do if it's run correctly and isn't overlooking the Ramblers.
"One of the advantages is that we should know how to stop it. I know what causes us problems and we'll try to create problems that way," Schneider said. "Our defense knows what the offense is going to run. But it's a deceptive offense and you can't guess wrong at all."
McBain (5-4) at Alcona (9-0)
7:30 p.m., tonight Alcona HS
Notes: First meeting between the two schoolsThis is Alcona's 4th playoff appearance and the 16th for the RamblersMcBain has made two state finals apperances (1993 and 2001)Alcona is 0-3 in the playoffs all-time, McBain is 18-15
Senior Zach Stephan leads McBain's offense with more than 1,300 all-purpose yards and Seth Barnette, one of nine starting sophomores for the Ramblers, has more than 700 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns.
On the flip side, Nathan Fettes leads Alcona with 1,365 yards on 116 carries with 20 touchdowns. Quarterback Cody Franklin (913 yards) and running back Josh Mead (980 yards) are both within striking distance of 1,000 yards.
In nine games, Alcona has piled up 4,209 rushing yards-more than 450 per game- and McBain will focus on slowing the Tigers down.
"We're going to have to contain the run game. They run the ball well and they have a lot of speed," McBain coach Chad Grundy said.
Tonight's game marks the second straight season Alcona has made the playoffs after ending a 12-year playoff drought last year. The return to the playoffs was short-lived however as Ishpeming topped the Tigers 40-12 in a predistrict game.
With a squad that includes 12 seniors, Alcona hit the ground running this season and piled up milestone after milestone. The Tigers won the North Star League's Huron Shores Division title, became the first varsity football team in school history to have an undefeated regular season and vanquished Whittemore-Prescott for the first time in 21 years.
All of these accomplishments came as a result of the players' hard work and the program is becoming what Schneider hoped it would become when he took over in 2010. The Tigers went 9-9 in his first two seasons, but finally broke through last season, finishing 6-3.
"My dad told me, 'When you take over a program, it takes three years (to get things in place)," Schneider said. "The coaching staff has worked hard and the kids believe in it (our system). We knew we had a talented group and they've built an offensive front and build a strong defense."
James Andersen can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.