Wildcats out for revenge, fast start in season opener against Flint Powers

The wait is almost over.

Another high school football season is about to begin and for Alpena High, the Wildcats kick off their 2023 campaign Thursday night at home on Park Family Field at Wildcat Stadium when they welcome Flint Powers, with kickoff set for 7 p.m.

“We’re really excited. We’re whole, we’re healthy and we have a bunch of seniors who have a bad taste in their mouth from last year and we’re ready for the challenge,” Alpena coach Eric Mitchell said. “This is kind of our little revenge tour. This is a game we’ve had circled, because it was a game last year where we made a lot of mistakes and the results were certainly on us so we’re excited for the challenge and opportunity to prove something in this first game.”

Alpena’s senior-laden squad is out to avenge a disappointing 34-7 loss last season against the Chargers at the famous Atwood Stadium.

This year the Wildcats will have home field advantage on their side along with the bitter taste in its mouth from a majority of the roster that was a part of that lopsided defeat and frustrated 2022 season.
This Alpena team is eyeing a fast start against a Chargers team entering with a new head coach in former offensive coordinator Tyler Wellman, but Powers has plenty of firepower of its own returning. Of the 10 returners, junior quarterback Javonte Ross leads the group and accounted for a pair of touchdowns, one on the ground and one through the air in the victory last year. The Alpena defense must be ready for Ross’s dual threat ability, along with limiting senior wide receiver Braxton Edwards and running back Jack Camara.

“We expect to see a lot of the same formations and game plan from last year. They use trade motion a lot and for us we’ll be making sure we adjust and slide so we don’t get tripped up by that at all,” Mitchell said. “They run more zone, we run more power so they block differently. We have to be disciplined on the defensive line and offensively, we want to put on a good showing by controlling the ball and owning the football field. We’re looking to sustain drives, take time off the clock and finish. We had too many drives last year that stalled out inside the red zone and we can’t have that happen this year.”

Look for the Wildcats to feature plenty of senior playmakers Kaleb Donajkowski and Easton Srebnik if they hope to sustain long drives and wind up in the end zone. Turnovers doomed Alpena last year in the loss to Powers. Offensive line play will be key for the Wildcats as quarterback Jake Zann threw a 61-yard touchdown in the first quarter of last year’s game, but was under pressure much of the contest and fished 7-of-26 passing for just 108 yards, the lone touchdown and a pair of interceptions, so the senior signal caller will be looking to bounce back in a big way Thursday night.

“It’s way too early to say this week is the season and our goal every week is to go 1-0, but as a program, for the school, everything, winning Week 1 would be great,” Mitchell said. “We might be able to pull more kids out by winning Week 1 and for us, we need the confidence right now. We have guys that have the ability, but they just need to prove that to themselves that they can get the job done. We’re up for the challenge and I think it’s going to be a great contest for Week 1 and I think if we get this one, we’re not just starting the way we want to, but we’ll be on the right path for the rest of the year.”

Listen to Doc Z and JT Pepper bring you every live Wildcat football radio broadcasts on 107.7 The Bay and also streamed at https://www.truenorthradionetwork.com/streaming/sports-streaming/