Ramblers Play For District Title on Saturday

November 12, 2019

by Ben Murphy
Sports Writer

Thanks to their upset win over Oscoda last week, the McBain football team has a chance at a division seven district title this week. The Ramblers (6-4) will head to Traverse City St. Francis (7-3) on Saturday, at historic Thirlby Field. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m.

“In past years they’ve had a lot of size but this year they have a little more speed than size, they’re more slender and very quick and fast,” McBain head coach Pat Maloney said. “They are not a team that is going to get in the spread much though, they run a ‘T’ formation.”

The 12th ranked Gladiators have lost in the state semi-finals the last two seasons and are well-known around the state for having title-contending teams each season. The good news for McBain is St. Francis graduated over 20 players from last year’s team and may be a bit dinged up heading into this contest as well.

“From what we’ve seen in our scouting report, they’ve had some issues and have had to play some younger guys and back-ups due to injuries,” Maloney said. “Since they have some kids out, we have to try and take advantage of their youth. We see ourselves in another dog-fight.”

The Gladiators’ three losses have come to Kingsley, Glen Lake and Muskegon Oakridge; all playoff teams that won their first-round games as well. Like the Ramblers, they’ve played in a number of close games, averaging 28 points a game on offense and have given up 19 points a game on defense.

St. Francis won their playoff opener 42-28 over Houghton Lake last week. The Glads racked up 372 yards on the ground, led by talented senior running back Sterling Holcomb, who had 116 yards. Gabe Olivier added 113 yards and a touchdown in the win and Andy Simaz was able to run for 80 yards and two scores, though he did leave the game with an injury. Their quarterback Kolin Endres only completed three passes last week, but did add a rushing touchdown.

Maloney isn’t looking too much into the fact that St. Francis topped Houghton Lake while his squad suffered an 8-6 loss to the Bobcats back in week three.

“We are playing a lot better since then,” he said. “St. Francis is a good football team, of course and we are going to have to be sound and do a lot of fundamental things well. I think the defense has to get a couple of turnovers and the offense, we have to be able to work the ball and avoid the three-and-outs. It’s hard telling what the weather will be like but either way we have to be able to throw the ball better than we did last week so we can open up some running lanes. Whether it’s a calm afternoon or 15-mile per hour winds, we just have to be able to take care of the ball.”

Six of McBain’s 10 games this season have been decided by a single possession, including last week’s 14-12 win over Oscoda.

“It could come down to a two-point conversion or a PAT-kick,” Maloney said. “Every play is important, no matter when it happens. We have to win a lot more of the little things than they do.”

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