Ticked off Wildcats determined to get back on track against Cadillac

To say the Alpena High football team had a bitter taste in its mouth after suffering the programs toughest loss in school history would be putting it nicely. 

The Wildcats (1-2, 0-1 BNC) lost to a winless Division 7 opponent less than a week ago in a game they knew they should have won and according to head coach Eric Mitchell, his team is “pissed off.”

“We spent the weekend pretty pissed off, but we have to get over it,” Mitchell said. “For us coaches, we spent a lot of time on Sunday planning for our next opponent and whatever situations we may have this Friday.”

One of the Wildcat coaching staff’s situations is figuring out if starting quarterback Jake Zann will be available after missing last week with a quadricep injury. 

In his place last week, Kaleb Donajkowski filled in admirably, showcasing his ability to use his legs, but also his arm as Donajkowski threw three touchdowns in the 26-20 defeat to Sanford-Meridian.

“We won’t know for a few days whether Jake will be available or not, but we’re planning for both situations and if Jake’s unavailable, we’ll work on getting Kaleb in better situations to throw the ball so he’s more comfortable,” Mitchell said. “He did a great job last week despite very limited work and reps at the quarterback position, but this week we know if Kaleb is in, the box is going to be loaded and we’ll make adjustments. I think which ever player we have at quarterback, you’re going to see two totally different offenses.”

Alpena’s opponent this Friday night will have zero question as to who will be under center as Cadillac (2-1, 2-0 BNC) will be led onto Park Family Field at Wildcat Stadium by senior quarterback Charlie Howell who torched the Wildcats a year ago, throwing five touchdowns and rushing for another in the Vikings’ 46-14 victory over Alpena last season.

“Their quarterback is an athlete for sure. I haven’t seen in a long time, a high school quarterback climb the pocket as well as he does,” Mitchell said. “He’s looking to throw before he runs and obviously, he’s a threat running the ball to, but this week for us, we have to stay extremely disciplined on defense at all three levels.”

The Wildcat defense will have to come up with a plan and execute it to near perfection in hopes of slowing down Howell and the Cadillac offense if they can pull off what would be an upset Friday night.

Through three games, the Alpena defense is allowing 36 points per contest and are on pace to surrender over 300 points for a third consecutive season and are once again flirting with the wrong side of history if they can’t make adjustments and execute.

“We need to get pressure and not give him (Howell) time to throw the ball. It’ll be key for us to get a mix of pressure and coverage. We need to cover big time. Over the last few weeks, we’ve played some big receivers and I’m not saying Cadillac doesn’t have good receivers, but I don’t think they’re as good as some of the kids we’ve seen, but their quarterback is definitely the real deal,” Mitchell said. “All of us are still pissed off. At the end of the day, we can be angry, irritated, feel like we got robbed a little bit, but we had our chances and we beat ourselves more than anybody else. This week our major focus is punishing ourselves for mistakes, because we cannot make those mistakes this week. We’re at the point if we make mistakes, we have no chance. For us, it’s playing mistake free football and letting our frustration from last week motivate us for this week.”