FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Portagers talk military, hope to remain unbeaten at Forest Area

Onekama’s senior football players pose with retired Marine Corps officer Richard Jibson (center) in the jerseys they will wear Friday at Fife Lake Forest Area. From left: Wyatt Lawson, Jay Sturgeon, Ben Johnson, Jibson, Ben Acton and Rylan Clarke. (Kyle Kotecki/News Advocate)

Onekama’s senior football players pose with retired Marine Corps officer Richard Jibson (center) in the jerseys they will wear Friday at Fife Lake Forest Area. From left: Wyatt Lawson, Jay Sturgeon, Ben Johnson, Jibson, Ben Acton and Rylan Clarke. (Kyle Kotecki/News Advocate)

Onekama football looks to keep its season unblemished in its first road game of the season with a trip to Fife Lake to take the Warriors in a Midwest Central-West conference showdown.

The Portagers may have a little extra pep in their step Friday after Wednesday’s inspiring talk from retired Marine Richard Jipson, who served with Onekama assistant football coach Justin Sedelmaier. Jipson spoke to the team about brotherhood, maintaining composure, discipline and determination with hopes that it would help the players both on and off the field.

“I do hope that something sunk in as far as them treating each other right and being humble,” Jipson said. “Those that are exceptionally great at the game should be humble enough to teach those who are struggling. Just to make that chain strong and get everybody on that same playing field. And then they’ll be unstoppable.”

Onekama’s matchup against the Warriors is a military appreciation game and the Portagers will be sporting special uniforms for the occasion.

Though the Portagers were recently named the third-ranked team in the state, Onekama football coach John Neph feels his players are going to have a tough game on their hands.

“We have to do our jobs better this week than we’ve done all season,” Neph said. “These guys are going to give us quite a challenge. We know that. We’re going over there for the first time on the road (this season). And it’s a huge night with the military appreciation game and this game means a lot to us so I think you’re going to see our best effort.”

Onekama defeated Forest Area 62-6 last season, but the Warriors finished 2-7 and have already amassed that many wins after three games so Neph expects a closely contested game.

“I think that Coach Mumby (of Forest Area) does a great job over there with those guys,” Neph said. “Like I said, so far this year they’re a really good football team. We’re going to have to play well.”

The game kicks off in Fife Lake at 7 p.m. Friday.

Brethren off to Big Rapids 

Coming off a convincing 42-20 win over Marion, Brethren football looks to maintain its momentum in a Friday away game against Big Rapids Crossroads, which is coming off of its first win since 2015 with a 28-14 victory over St. Joseph Michigan Lutheran last week.

“We’re coming off a high of beating Marion and we kind of shut down what they are traditionally known to do,” said Brethren head coach J.J. Randall. “With Big Rapids Crossroads, in the last couple years they’ve been down, but last week they got their first win in the last two or three years. We just have to focus on the task at hand. If we do that, hopefully — with our athletes — we’ll be good. If we go in there half-heartedly, football is a crazy sport and anything can happen.”

The Cougars were beat by Marion 78-0 in week two, so one might think worry about the Bobcats taken their opponent lightly and looking ahead to their upcoming game against Suttons Bay, but Randall has his players focusing on one week at a time.

“Our goal is to look at film each week,” Randall said. “We look at each opponent each week and game plan from that film and continue to try to build on that success each week. We’ve been successful in three games but that’s a small sample size, so right now we’re just focusing on our weekly goals so we can accomplish what we want to accomplish.”

The game starts at 7 p.m. Friday in Big Rapids.

Manistee Catholic home to Mesick

Manistee Catholic Central football hosts West Michigan D League foe Mesick Friday after coming off of a 38-0 win over Bear Lake.

Sabers coach Jake Szymanski is anticipating a close contest and expects the Bulldogs to attack MCC’s defense both on the ground and through the air.

“Mesick is a very athletic team,” Szymanski said. “They are by far the most balanced team running and passing that we have seen all year. They’ve got some really solid players all across the board. Their running back is definitely going to be a focal point for us. He is slow to the line. He reads his blocks and he has a burst of speed that will get him out of people’s way.”

Szymanski expects Mesick to send a lot of blitzes and is ready to make any necessary adjustments to keep the Bulldogs on their toes.

“Defensively they are very aggressive,” Szymanski said. “They love to blitz. They are going to try to overpower our offensive line. I feel that if we need to run our spread to get them off balance a little bit we can do that. I’m confident we can do that very well.”

The game kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday at Manistee Catholic Central.

Leave a Reply