Vikings win Guardian Game Trophy

Grayling, with a strong second half performance, defeats Kalkaska Blazers 47-6 during rivalry game that features tributes to the military
Friday night’s Guardian Game – a Grayling vs. Kalkaska varsity football contest featuring a tribute to area veterans of the United States military and a traveling rivalry trophy for the winner of the contest – was close at halftime, but the Vikings outscored the Blazers 33-0 in the second half, and Grayling High School won the battle by a final score of 47-6.
The Vikings earned the Guardian Game Trophy for the second consecutive season. Guardian Game organizers created the event last year. During the 2017 Grayling vs. Kalkaska Guardian Game – the season finale for both squads – the Vikings won 50-33 for their sixth win of the season, earning an automatic playoff berth.
This year, Grayling started slow but finished strong vs. the Blazers. The Vikings led 14-6 at halftime.
The first scoring drive for GHS featured 14 plays and covered 68 yards. Highlights included an 11-yard gain by Zack Osga on a screen pass, a 12-yard pass from quarterback Eli Jackson to Logan Joseph, a 15-yard run by Joseph on 4th and 13 (a fake punt play), and a 15-yard touchdown reception by Nick Hunter.
Grayling’s defense set up the squad’s second scoring drive; Jacob Farmer intercepted a Kalkaska pass attempt, giving the Vikings the ball 44 yards from the goal line. The series featured a 22-yard catch by Joseph on 4th and 12, a 13-yard run by Jackson, and an 11-yard touchdown run by Joseph. Jackson ran the ball into the end zone for the two-point conversion.
Grayling got the ball back with a fumble recovery by Parker Dole.
Joseph ran for a 43-yard TD, but a penalty nullified most of the gained yardage and the touchdown. Jackson ran for 10 yards. Runs by Osga and Jackson picked up enough for another first down. The drive ended with a field goal attempt; Kalkaska blocked the kick.
Kalkaska responded with a 15-play drive that ended with a five-yard TD catch on 3rd and goal.
After two quarters of play, the Vikings led 14-6.
Grayling’s offense had the ball four times in the second half, and the Vikings converted all four possessions into touchdowns. Grayling also scored a TD on defense during the last 24 minutes of regulation.
Due to injuries sustained in the first half, neither squad used its starting QB in the second half of the game.
After a Kalkaska punt, the Vikings drove 41 yards on eight plays, finishing the series with a one-yard TD run by Osga on 3rd and goal. Joseph ran the ball for the two-point conversion.
With 7:58 left in the third period, Grayling led 22-6.
After a punt by the Blazers, the Vikings drove 71 yards, scoring on a 10-yard shovel pass from Joseph to Ken Dutton on 4th and goal. Grayling led 28-6.
On 3rd and 15 for the Blazers, Hunter intercepted a Kalkaska pass attempt and returned it down the sideline all the way for a touchdown.
Grayling finished a three-play 44-yard drive with a 43-yard touchdown run by Joseph. Pali Feri kicked the extra point and the Vikings led 41-6.
On the ensuing kick return, Kalkaska fumbled, picked up the ball, fumbled again, and this time Grayling recovered the loose football eight yards from the goal line. The Vikings finished the drive with a three-yard TD run by quarterback Justin Jamison.
The final score was Grayling 47, Kalkaska 6.
The contest, in addition to the Guardian Game military tributes, featured homecoming festivities for the Blazers.
“It was a good win for us. Kalkaska always plays us tough and they started out in a similar way. Defensively we played tough all night and forced Kalkaska into a few turnovers. Offensively we had a few missed opportunities, especially in the first half. We had to move some guys around and adjust on the fly but the kids executed regardless of the situation. That’s one of the things I love about these guys; they don’t get rattled, or down, or frustrated, they just go. I tell them whether we are up 20 or down 20, we play all out and I couldn’t have asked for more out of them,” Coach Eric Tunney said.
Jackson finished the game with 104 passing yards and one TD. Joseph had 109 rushing yards, 33 passing yards, and three total TDs (two rushing, one passing). Osga ran for 86 yards and one TD. Hunter had 46 receiving yards and one TD.
On defense, Drew Kanary had 10.5 tackles and one forced fumble. Blane Johnston had 6.5 tackles. Dole had 4.5 tackles and a fumble recovery.
The Vikings (3-3 overall, 3-2 league) will host the Benzie Central Huskies (3-3 overall, 1-3 league) on Friday, October 5, at 7 p.m. Grayling needs to win its last three games of the 2018 season in order to earn an automatic playoff berth. Friday’s match against the Huskies will include homecoming festivities for the Vikings.
“We have to heal up and get ready for Benzie Central this Friday. It’s homecoming and Benzie is fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive as well.  We appreciate all of the support Viking Nation has given us and will need their help Friday night,” Coach Tunney said.
Grayling will finish its 2018 regular season with a road game at West Branch Ogemaw Heights (1-5 overall) on Friday, October 12, and a home game vs. Glen Lake (3-3 overall) on Friday, October 19.
 
Northern Michigan Football Conference
 
The Northern Michigan Football Conference – Grayling’s athletic league for football – has three tiers. Grayling is in the division called “Legends,” according to the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s online Score Center. The Legends Division, also known as the large school division of the conference, includes Grayling, Kalkaska, Benzie Central, Boyne City, Cheboygan, Traverse City St. Francis, and Kingsley.
For the Legends Division, last week featured three conference games. 
Traverse City St. Francis defeated Boyne City 42-6. Kingsley won 44-24 vs. Benzie Central. Grayling beat Kalkaska 47-6.
Last week’s scores and current standings for all three tiers of the Northern Michigan Football Conference, courtesy of the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Score Center, are listed below.
 
Legends Division
Team, League, Overall
St. Francis .....................4-0 (6-0)
Kingsley..........................3-1 (5-1)
Cheboygan.....................3-1 (4-2)
Grayling..........................3-2 (3-3)
Benzie Central...............1-3 (3-3)
Boyne City .....................0-3 (2-4)
Kalkaska........................0-4 (0-6)
 
Last week’s scores:
Cheboygan 44, Ogemaw Heights 14 
Grayling 47, Kalkaska 6
Kingsley 44, Benzie Central 24
St. Francis 42, Boyne City 6
 
Legacy Division
Team, League, Overall
Harbor Springs...............5-0 (6-0)
Joburg-Lewiston.............3-0 (5-1)
St. Ignace.......................2-2 (3-3)
Newberry........................2-2 (2-4)
Gaylord St. Mary............1-3 (1-4)
East Jordan....................1-3 (1-5)
Inland Lakes...................0-4 (0-6)
 
Last week’s scores:
St. Ignace 54, East Jordan 8
Harbor Springs 26, St. Mary 13
Joburg-Lewiston 34, Charlevoix 0
Newberry 42, Inland Lakes 35
 
Leaders Division
Team, League, Overall
Glen Lake.......................3-0 (3-3)
Elk Rapids......................2-1 (4-2)
Frankfort.........................2-1 (4-2)
Charlevoix......................0-2 (1-5)
Mancelona.....................0-3 (1-5)
 
Last week’s scores:
Glen Lake 23, Elk Rapids 15
Frankfort 10, Mancelona 6
Joburg-Lewiston 34, Charlevoix 0
 
 

Crawford County Avalanche

Mailing Address
Box 490
Grayling, MI 49738

Phone: 989-348-6811
FAX: 989-348-6806
E-Mail: information@crawfordcountyavalanche.com

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