Varsity football team to focus more on running the ball than in years past
Squad will play in its season opener vs. Roscommon on Thursday, August 29
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
The varsity football program from Grayling High School, following a productive offseason, started its official practice sessions for the 2019 fall season last week, and the team will play in its season opener next week.
The program’s overall numbers are down this year, especially after a few injuries during the first few practice sessions.
“We’re a little low. We knew we wouldn’t have a ton of kids,” Coach Eric Tunney said. “For practice it would be nice to have more but the kids we do have I’m pumped about. We’ll make it work.”
Coach Tunney said the players did a lot of work over the summer during the offseason, including weight lifting, conditioning, 7 on 7 events, and camps. Participation numbers were strong, he said.
The team offered weight training sessions three times per week and speed training two times per week during the summer months.
“We had a good, solid group who showed up to just about everything,” Coach Tunney said.
Players participated in five 7 on 7 events, Grayling High School’s spread camp in July, and the BAHUNA run in August.
Coach Tunney said the program conducted the BAHUNA run at Camp Grayling this year.
“It was a lot of fun,” Coach Tunney said. “It’s a good bonding, good conditioning test for the kids. We had a high percentage of kids at that. Everybody finished.”
Coach Tunney said the BAHUNA run event included timed exercises, team competitions in events such as tug of war and tire flips, and a 5.5-mile run.
“It’s tough. It’s grueling. The kids help each other get through it,” Coach Tunney said.
Coach Tunney said the camps and conditioning help the team prepare for practices and games.
“As far as pass plays and passing routes, those are installed in the summer, so that helps out a lot,” Coach Tunney said.
The program expects to run the ball more this year in an effort to take advantage of its strengths.
“We’re going to be big up front this year, so we’re really hammering out our run game. We’re expecting big things out of our run game this year,” Coach Tunney said. “At this point we have three running backs I’m confident can carry the load and share the load.”
“Our defensive front should be pretty solid,” Coach Tunney said.
Coach Tunney, on Wednesday, said the first three days of practice went well.
“It’s been good,” Coach Tunney said. “It’s been great working on our drills and our fundamentals. That’s a big thing we’re stressing this year, our fundamentals.”
The team has a mix of veteran players and players new to varsity football. Coach Tunney said “just being consistent” is one of the team’s areas of focus.
“Getting guys used to the speed and the physicality. We’ve got a good mix of guys who’ve played a lot of ball for us but also some guys who’ve never played varsity before, getting them to the next level,” Coach Tunney said.
With regard to goals, Coach Tunney said the program is looking to win the game that’s next on the schedule.
“Win week one vs. Roscommon. That’s always a goal. They got us last year. It was tough to swallow even though they were a good team last year,” Coach Tunney said.
Coach Tunney said the program is also hoping to “be in the running for a league title.”
The Vikings are in the Legends Division of the Northern Michigan Football Conference. Grayling’s division also includes Benzie Central, Boyne City, Cheboygan, Kalkaska, Kingsley, and Traverse City St. Francis.
“A lot of solid teams in the league. I really think it’s up for grabs for anybody,” Coach Tunney said.
Coach Tunney said players did a lot of community service during the summer, and he expects his players “to be leaders in the school and in the community” by helping and supporting others.
“Creating a culture here of winning, whether it’s cheering on the volleyball team or the soccer team or the girls basketball team, I think as a school we can make progress in that area, make it even better than it is,” Coach Tunney said.
The varsity football team from Grayling High School will open its 2019 season with a home game vs. the Roscommon Bucks at 7 p.m. on Thursday, August 29.
On Friday, September 6, the Vikings will host the Cheboygan Chiefs – a league opponent – at 7 p.m.
The varsity football squad will then play three conference games on the road – at Kingsley, at Boyne City, and at Traverse City St. Francis – on September 13, 20, and 27, respectively.
Grayling will host the Kalkaska Blazers on Friday, October 4. The team will end its 2019 regular season with a road game at Benzie Central, a home game vs. Ogemaw Heights, and a road contest at Glen Lake.