Football team to open season with home game vs. Roscommon
Tue, 08/17/2021 - 8:40am caleb
Squad has low overall numbers, will feature a group with a mix of experience levels
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
Grayling High School’s varsity football squad started its official practices for the upcoming fall season last week with a group that has a mix of experienced varsity players and new members.
Overall numbers are down a little bit this year, Coach Eric Tunney said.
“A little light this year. We’ve got one class that’s pretty small,” Coach Tunney said.
Official practice sessions for this year’s football season began on Monday, August 9. Coach Tunney said the first week was a productive one for the Vikings. The work included conditioning in addition to offense, defense, and special teams drills.
“I thought it went great,” Coach Tunney said. “We tested the kids. I feel like the last couple years we didn’t perform well in the second half and I didn’t want that to happen again.”
The Vikings prepared for the preseason with weight room work, conditioning, 7 on 7 events, and helmet-only practices during the summer.
“We had a good group of kids that missed hardly ever,” Coach Tunney said. “It was nice to be able to do some 7 on 7s this year.”
Coach Tunney said the team’s experienced returning players should be a strength of this year’s program.
“We’ve got some returning guys that have experience. They were key guys last year so that helps. Up front we’ve got some big boys. I think that will be a strength for us if we can stay healthy,” Coach Tunney said. “Health and conditioning will be key.”
Coach Tunney said the team is working on consistency.
“Just being more consistent,” Coach Tunney said. “I know at times we look really, really good, then a play later that falls off. Just being consistent. That comes with reps. We coach these guys hard and they’ve responded well so far.”
Coach Tunney said his expectation for the players is for them work hard on improving.
“Just to bring it every day,” he said.
Coach Tunney said the team’s goal is to win game one and then focus on the conference and the playoffs when the time comes.
“Win the first game and then be in contention for a league championship, and now the expectations have shifted to districts, regionals, but that’s a long way out,” Coach Tunney said.
Last year’s squad won a district title and a regional championship; it was the school’s first ever regional title for football. The 2020 season – which ended in January of 2021 because of delays caused by COVID-19 restrictions in the state – featured a variety of unusual circumstances, including postponement of the campaign to spring, reinstatement of the fall season minus three regular season contests, automatic playoff berths for all squads, required COVID-19 testing, and spectator limits at stadiums. Coach Tunney said the support from the community during the 2020 playoff run meant a lot to the program.
“I’m really excited for fans to be able to come in unlimited and pack the stadium,” Coach Tunney said.
The Vikings will open their 2021 season with a home game vs. the Roscommon Bucks at 7 p.m. on Thursday, August 26. Grayling will play at Traverse City St. Francis at 7 p.m. on Thursday, September 2.