Football team wins season opener 22-6 vs. Roscommon
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
The Grayling Vikings were able to run the ball on offense and stop the run on defense during Thursday night’s varsity football season opener vs. the Roscommon Bucks, and Grayling High School – the home team for the game – won by a final score of 22-6.
The Vikings kicked off to Roscommon to start the contest. After three rushing plays, the Bucks punted on 4th and 4. Zack Osga returned the kick for a touchdown, but the scoring play was nullified by a holding penalty.
After penalty enforcement, Grayling started 53 yards from the end zone. Runs by Osga, David Millikin, and Max Halstead picked up a first down. Osga ran for 28 yards on the next play. Later, on 4th and 9, quarterback Hunter Ventline completed a pass to Eli Jackson for an 11-yard TD, but the play was called back due to a holding penalty. On 4th and 19, Ventline threw to Osga in the corner of the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown. Osga ran the ball across the goal line for the two-point conversion.
With 5:31 left in the first quarter, Grayling led 8-0.
Pali Feri’s kickoff went into the end zone and Roscommon started at its 20-yard line. The Bucks gained five yards on two rushing plays. On 3rd and 5, Reid Cvitkovich sacked Roscommon’s QB for a five-yard loss. The Bucks punted on 4th and 10.
Grayling started at its 44-yard line after the kick. Millikin rushed for nine yards on first down. Halstead ran for 15 yards on the next play. On 1st and 10, Osga rushed for 23 yards. On 1st and goal, Millikin scored on a nine-yard touchdown run. Feri kicked the extra point.
With 2:45 remaining in the first period, Grayling had a 15-0 advantage.
The Bucks picked up a first down with a 27-yard run on 2nd and 7. Later, on 4th and 7, Roscommon went for it and Osga deflected the pass in the secondary. The Vikings took over on downs at their 36-yard line.
Runs by Halstead, Millikin, and Osga gained 23 yards. On 1st and 10, Halstead ran for five yards. He left the game due to injury after the play and did not return. Runs by Millikin and Osga – including one on 4th and inches – picked up another first down for the Vikings. Later, on 4th and 3, Roscommon intercepted a Grayling pass attempt near the goal line.
The interception return, plus a face mask penalty on the Vikings, put the Bucks at Grayling’s 45-yard line. The Vikings stopped Roscommon’s first down running play for a loss. A QB sack on second down resulted in a three-yard loss. After an incomplete pass on 3rd and 17 and a penalty (offside) on 4th and 17, the Bucks punted on 4th and 12.
Grayling started at its 12-yard line following the punt. Ventline threw to Jackson for a five-yard gain on first down. A run by Millikin, plus a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty on Roscommon, gained 23 total yards. A screen pass to Millikin picked up just enough for another first down. Millikin ran for another first down on the next play, and a penalty for late hit out of bounds added 15 yards to the run. On the 10th play of the drive – 4th and 10 – an incomplete pass ended the series.
The Bucks started at their 25-yard line with 1:16 left in the first half. They picked up a first down with three rushing plays. A completed deep pass gained 36 yards on 2nd and 9. Next play, incomplete pass. On the final play of the half – 2nd and 10, 23 yards from the goal line for Roscommon – Drew Kanary sacked the Bucks’ quarterback, ending the second quarter.
At halftime, Grayling led 15-0.
Osga returned Roscommon’s kickoff to Grayling’s 44-yard line. The Vikings drove to Roscommon’s 13-yard line, but the drive ended on downs after Grayling went for it and came up short on 4th and 3.
The Bucks punted after three plays.
Grayling started at Roscommon’s 47-yard line. A run by Osga gained five yards on first down. A screen pass to Osga picked up eight yards and a first down. On 2nd and 25, after an intentional grounding penalty, Osga rushed for 21 yards. After an incomplete pass on 3rd and 4, Grayling went for it on fourth down and a pitch to Osga gained enough for another first down. A pass to Jackson gained 13 yards on 2nd and 11. Osga rushed twice, picking up 11 yards. On 1st and goal, Osga ran for a two-yard TD. Feri kicked the extra point.
With 10:18 left in the fourth period, Grayling led 22-0.
Roscommon rushed three times, losing three yards, and the Bucks punted on 4th and 13.
Grayling turned the ball over with an incomplete pass on 4th and 16.
The Bucks drove 54 yards on eight plays, scoring on a five-yard TD pass on 4th and 5. The key play of the series was a 30-yard completion on 2nd and 8. Roscommon went for two and the pass fell incomplete.
With 4:19 left in the game, Grayling led 22-6.
The Vikings recovered Roscommon’s on-side kick at the 48-yard line.
Grayling ran the ball seven times in the final 4:16, ending the game.
The Vikings won 22-6.
“The defense played lights out,” Coach Eric Tunney said. “Hats off to them. Overall, defensively, that’s the way to play.”
Offensively, Coach Tunney said the offensive line and running backs played well, allowing the team to run effectively vs. the Bucks. Osga finished the game with 186 rushing yards. Millikin had 78 rushing yards.
“We’ve got a lot of stuff to clean up, but I’m proud of the way the big guys played up front. The running backs hit the holes,” Coach Tunney said.
Coach Tunney said the win offered returning players a bit of “redemption” after last year’s season opening loss vs. the Bucks.
“Overall, happy to be 1-0. Roscommon is a solid team. Winning is so difficult, anytime you get one is good. I’m excited for the kids,” Coach Tunney said.
The Vikings (1-0 overall, 0-0 conference) will host the Cheboygan Chiefs at 7 p.m. on Friday, September 6.
“We have another big, physical team next week vs. Cheboygan so it will be another tough challenge,” Coach Tunney said.