Only 8 (wins) is enough

 

Manistee’s defense swarms to the ball during the Chippewas’ 36-8 win over Burton Bentley last Saturday. From left: Spencer McDougall (33), Tanner Vadeboncoeur (24), Corbin Miller (62) and Logan Guenthardt (right). (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

Manistee’s defense swarms to the ball during the Chippewas’ 36-8 win over Burton Bentley last Saturday. From left: Spencer McDougall (33), Tanner Vadeboncoeur (24), Corbin Miller (62) and Logan Guenthardt (right). (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

Mission Not Accomplished.

That was the message Manistee head coach Tod Miller had for his team this week, as they prepared for tonight’s contest at Cadillac.

The Chippewas (6-1) clinched an automatic playoff berth with last Saturday’s 36-8 win over Burton Bentley, but with teams like undefeated Reed City and perennial state title contenders Muskegon Oakridge and Grand Rapids West Catholic projected to possibly be included in a Division 5 playoff district with Manistee, every win, indeed every playoff point, is crucial to the Chippewas.

At least Miller hopes that it is, with two games yet to play before the postseason.

“Our motivation is eight wins,” Miller said. “If we win them both, there’s a good chance we’ll have a home (playoff) game.”

But more important than that is simply banishing complacency in general, which will be made more difficult considering that the two teams left on Manistee’s schedule, starting tonight with the 1-6 Vikings, have won just 2 games total all year.

Miller said that he has talked to his players this week about how to handle success.

“You just can’t reach a point where you say, ‘I’m satisfied.’ If you’re truly competitive, truly a person who wants to get better for yourselves and your teammates, you’re going to keep striving and keep pushing to get better,” Miller said. “It wouldn’t matter if you’re 6-1 or 1-6, are you the kind of person who is going to work your butt off to get better next week or not?”

Cadillac’s 1-6 record may be somewhat deceiving. Four of those six losses have come at the hands of Class A schools Traverse City West, Gaylord, Alpena and Petoskey, all league opponents of the Vikings.

“They play consistently better competition than we do week in and week out, so they’re battle-tested,” Miller said. “They’re going to give us all that we want right now, we’re going to have to play a good game.”

And they also have been without the services of their biggest weapon on offense, 3-year starting running back Michael Holdship, for part of the season. Holdship has battled through knee and shoulder injuries this season, but has rushed for 317 yards and 3 touchdowns in the five games he’s played for Cadillac.

Miller said that the plan for the Chippewas is to concentrate on Holdship, and force someone else to beat them.

“He’s a big kid, but he’s banged up,” Miller said. “He’s an integral part of their offense, we have to try to cover him, cover that aspect of the game.”

Onekama is in a similar place, having clinched its spot in the playoffs last week, and clinched the outright Northwestern 6 league championship as well.

And the Portagers (6-1) also have to guard against complacency tonight against 3-4 Holton, but for a slightly different reason: The regular-season finale a week from today against Frankfort, ahead to which they must not look if they want to position themselves for an 8-win season — the program’s first since 1987 — and a home game in the first round of the playoffs.

Neither Manistee Catholic Central nor Brethren are playing varsity football games this week.

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Posted by Scott Yoshonis

Scott is the sports editor of the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach him at (231) 398-3112 or syoshonis@pioneergroup.com.

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