FOOTBALL PREVIEWS: Brethren, Bear Lake have different goals in Week 9 doubleheader

Brethren’s Logan Tighe (72) in action earlier this season. Tighe and the Bobcats will put their slim playoff hopes on the line against Atlanta Friday. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

Brethren’s Logan Tighe (72) in action earlier this season. Tighe and the Bobcats will put their slim playoff hopes on the line against Atlanta Friday. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

BRETHREN — With only one night left in the regular season local football teams are aiming to give their squads something to remember, whether that’s an upset for the ages or a playoff berth.

Bear Lake (2-6) will open the night with a challenge against Central Lake (8-0) at 5 p.m., and Brethren (3-4) will be trying to fight off of the bubble and make it into the playoffs against Atlanta (4-4) in a doubleheader at Brethren High School.

Brethren still fighting for playoff berth

The Bobcats are in a position that extending the season for another week could come down to simply winning on Friday evening. The top 32 8-player football teams based on playoff points make the playoffs, and right now Brethren is 36th in playoff points (20.643 points).

That means they would have to jump four teams to find a way into the playoffs. Their opponent, Atlanta, is in the same position as the 33rd team in 8-player (23.625 points), meaning this game could be a win-or-go-home scenario for both squads.

Brethren coach Alvin Rischel says he and his team are aware of the implications, but also know that none of that matters if they don’t win this game.

“We’ve talked about it a little bit as a team, but to be honest, our focus needs to be just on competing and winning a game,” he said. “We have to just focus on taking care of business on Friday night.”

The Bobcats are coming off of an upset loss at Baldwin on last Friday where they turned the ball over six times and battled a couple of injuries to key players. Brethren was heavily favored in the game, but about everything that could go wrong, did.

“I’m okay if my kids remember that game a little bit and take the stinger of it with them. It should hurt,” Rischel said.

To go along with the turnovers in the game, quarterback Gavin Asiala and running back Jake Riggs went down, and the Bobcats are playing it by ear for this week.

If Asiala isn’t able to play on Friday, Rischel is confident that Hunter Gumieny can step into the quarterback position in relief.

“We’re still kind of on the bubble with some of them. We’re going to be prepared either way,” he said.

“I think Hunter Gumieny stepped up really well last week. I think he gave up everything he could. This team will rally around Hunter if need be.”

Atlanta, in some ways is a little bit like Brethren. They have had some games where they look great, and others where they get run off the field. For that reason, they are a little tough to figure out.

The Huskies run some spread looks, but also are willing to tighten up the offense and run it up the middle. On the other side of the ball Rischel hopes that some of his team speed will give Atlanta trouble on the edges.

“I don’t know how well they will handle our tempo. I’m hoping that gives us an advantage. From what I’ve seen on film we hope to run the ball on the edge on them,” he said.

This game will begin at 7 p.m. or directly after the 5 p.m. game.

Bear Lake looks for the upset of the century

It’s no secret that Friday will be an uphill battle for the Lakers.

Bear Lake will play the undefeated Central Lake Trojans, a team that leads all of 8-player football in playoff points. If the playoffs started today, Central Lake would have home-field advantage deep into the playoffs.

Playoff aspirations are out of the questions for the Lakers, but finishing the season on a high note would help build some momentum going into the offseason.

“We’re going to go out and play hard. I don’t care who we’re playing,” Bear Lake coach John Prokes said. “We have to take the attitude that we have one more day to play on a Friday night, which is the greatest thing in the world to do.”

The game will be the last for two Laker seniors that have been crucial for the program’s formation. Travis Johnson and Dane Mertes are two of the three players on the roster that previously played varsity football, but they did so last season in an Onekama uniform.

“I hope they finish up their high-school career with some great memories, about not only this year, but about what they meant for this team. It was more important than anything,” Prokes said. “They had to step up and be mentors, and show these guys what it takes. They’ve gone above and beyond that.”

The Trojans will look to run the ball early and often like they did last week in a 42-28 win over Onekama. Central Lake ran for 340 yards, many of which came up the middle.

Despite likely being the best team Bear Lake will see all season, the Trojan offense may be the simplest as well.

“As crazy as it sounds, and this is probably the best team we’ll play all year, there isn’t a whole lot of thinking to go up against it. They’re just going to come right at you. There’s nothing fancy,” Prokes said.

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Posted by Brian Fogg

Brian is the sports writer for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach him at (231) 398-3110 or bfogg@pioneergroup.com.

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