Football team to play at Reed City on Friday night during MHSAA postseason game after getting sixth win in season finale at Kalkaska
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
Grayling’s postseason hopes for football came down to Friday’s regular season finale. The Vikings needed a win to earn a playoff spot, and they got it. Grayling defeated the Kalkaska Blazers 50-33 on Friday night during a Northern Michigan Football Conference Legends Division game, earning a sixth win and an automatic berth in the Michigan High School Athletic Association playoffs. Kalkaska hosted the contest.
The Vikings scored touchdowns on their first seven possessions and they led by as many as 29 points in the sedcond half, but it was a back and forth game early.
Kalkaska kicked off to Grayling to start the contest, and the first drive for the Vikings began at their 21-yard line. A pass from quarterback Justin Nicholas to Logan Joseph gained 23 yards. A run by Zack Osga and a catch by Ken Dutton picked up another first down. Osga caught a pass for eight yards. A reception by Rickey Heavner on 2nd and 2 picked up a first down. Osga rushed for five yards on 1st and 10. Nicholas threw to Chris Hunter for a 27-yard TD on 2nd and 5. Osga ran the ball into the end zone for the two-point conversion.
Grayling led 8-0.
Kalkaska, on 4th and 6 from its 32-yard line, went for it and the pass attempt fell incomplete. The Vikings took over 32 yards from the goal line.
On 3rd and 9, Osga caught a pass for a 31-yard touchdown. Two-point conversion attempt, no good. The Vikings led 14-0 with 7:21 left in the first quarter.
Kalkaska returned Grayling’s kickoff to midfield. The Blazers drove 52 yards on 12 plays, converting three times on fourth down, including a 27-yard touchdown pass on 4th and 7. They kicked the extra point.
With 1:42 remaining in the first period, Grayling led 14-7.
Kalkaska’s on-side kick attempt went out of bounds, giving the Vikings possession of the ball at their 47-yard line. Osga ran for 10 yards on first down. Runs by Nicholas and Osga picked up another first down. Catches by Gabe Ervin and Joseph brought up 1st and goal. Jacob Farmer caught a nine-yard pass for a touchdown on the next play. Nicholas threw to Heavner for the two-point conversion, and Grayling led 22-7 early in the second quarter.
Kalkaska drove 74 yards on seven plays, scoring on a 13-yard TD run. The Blazers kicked the extra point, cutting Grayling’s lead to 22-14 with 7:58 remaining in the first half.
Another possession for GHS, another touchdown. The Vikings drove 70 yards, finishing the series with a 28-yard TD catch by Hunter on 4th and 18. The series also included a 19-yard catch by Dutton, an eight-yard reception by Osga, a 12-yard catch by Dutton, and a 17-yard reception by Joseph. The two-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful.
With 5:19 left in the first half, Grayling led 28-14.
Kalkaska recovered Grayling’s on-side kick at its 49-yard line. The Blazers drove 51 yards on eight plays, scoring on a 17-yard TD pass on 3rd and 5. They added the extra point kick to pull within seven, 28-21, with 2:18 left in the second quarter.
Heavner returned Kalkaska’s kickoff to the 41-yard line. A catch by Joseph gained 16 yards. Two catches by Ervin picked up 23 yards and a first down. A toss to Osga and a reception by Dutton brought up 1st and goal at the 10-yard line. Grayling finished the series with a nine-yard TD catch by Hunter on 2nd and goal. Nicholas completed a pass to Joseph for the two-point conversion.
Kalkaska, after the kickoff return, had the ball at its 25-yard line with 23.6 seconds before the end of the period. The Blazers ran it, completed a pass, and ran the ball, ending the second quarter.
The halftime score was Grayling 36, Kalkaska 21.
The Blazers, on the first possession of the third quarter, punted on 4th and 9; it was the first punt of the game.
The Vikings drove 63 yards on five plays, most of which came on a 51-yard reception by Joseph. Grayling scored on 3rd and goal with a two-yard TD reception by Joseph. Heavner caught a pass for the two-point conversion.
With 9:03 left in the third quarter, the Vikings had a 44-21 advantage.
On 4th and 15, Kalkaska went for it, and Grayling’s defensive line forced an errant pass, giving the Vikings possession of the ball on downs.
Grayling started 35 yards from the end zone. On 4th and 7, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Kalkaska gave the Vikings a first down. Later, on 4th and goal, Nicholas completed a pass to Joseph for a six-yard TD. The pass play on the two-point conversion attempt resulted in an incomplete pass.
With 6:10 left in the third period, Grayling had a 50-21 lead.
The Blazers drove from their 30-yard line to Grayling’s 11-yard line. The Vikings held the first down play to a one-yard gain. Jacob Macfalda tackled the Kalkaska ball carrier for a loss on second down. Grayling’s defense held the Blazers to a one-yard gain on 3rd and 14. On 4th and 13, Parker Dole got to the quarterback for Grayling, forcing an incomplete pass.
The Vikings took over at their 14-yard line. A pass to Joseph gained 14 yards on first down. Later, on 4th and 1, the Vikings went for it and came up short.
Kalkaska gained 35 yards on first down, bringing up 1st and goal. After a two-yard run, the Blazers scored on a one-yard run on 2nd and goal. They tried for two on the conversion and the pass fell incomplete.
Grayling led 50-27 with 9:44 left in the game.
Kalkaska tried an on-side kick and Justin Youngblood went up to catch it. Grayling started at its 40-yard line. A catch by Osga gained 20 yards. A reception by Ervin picked up 34 yards. The drive ended a few plays later with an incomplete pass on 4th and goal.
Kalkaska drove 97 yards on 14 plays, scoring on a 24-yard TD pass on 3rd and 6. Two-point conversion attempt, no good (incomplete pass).
With 4:44 left in regulation, the Vikings led by 17 points, 50-33.
Joseph recovered Kalkaska’s on-side kick attempt. The series ended with a punt on 4th and 4.
The Blazers threw deep on 2nd and 8, picking up 40 yards. A penalty on Grayling brought up 1st and goal at the 6-yard line. Three rushing plays picked up five yards, bringing up 4th and goal at the 1-yard line. Grayling’s defense stopped the fourth down rushing play for a loss, completing the goal line stand.
The Vikings killed the final 1:06, and Grayling won the game 50-33.
Nicholas finished with 372 passing yards and seven TDs. Joseph had 123 receiving yards with two TDs. Hunter had 67 receiving yards and three TDs. Osga had 47 rushing yards and 70 receiving yards with one TD. Ervin had 63 receiving yards.
On defense, Dole had 14 tackles and one sack. Jordan Harris had 11 tackles and two sacks. Youngblood had 10 tackles. Heavner, Joseph, Macfalda, and Tyler Withers each had seven tackles. Withers had one sack. Eli Jackson, Jesse Book, and Miguel Quinones each had six tackles.
“We were very happy to come away with the victory vs. a tough Kalkaska team. This win gets us into the playoffs, which is a spot we weren’t sure we were going to be in five quarters ago. We know we are blessed to be here, as the majority of football teams turned their gear in this weekend. We need to take advantage and enjoy every moment of it,” Coach Tim Sanchez said.
The Vikings (6-3 overall) will play at Reed City (8-1 overall) on Friday, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m. in the Michigan High School Athletic Association playoffs (Division 5, Region 1, District 2). If Grayling wins, it will play at Remus Chippewa Hills (7-2) or at Clare (8-1) next week for the district championship. If Reed City wins, it will host Chippewa Hills or Clare for the district title game.
Grayling High School is offering a spectator bus to the Reed City game. Students must sign up using the registration form on Google. Community members can contact the GHS office at 344-3506 to sign up. The registration deadline is 3 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 26. The bus is scheduled to leave Grayling High School at 4:45 p.m. on Friday. Cost is $10 per person (includes game ticket).
Northern Michigan Football Conference – Final Standings
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, Elk Rapids, Traverse City St. Francis, and Kingsley.
For the “Legends,” the league championship came down to a battle between Boyne City and Traverse City St. Francis. Both squads were undefeated in conference play (and overall) going into Friday night’s contest. The Ramblers defeated the Gladiators 19-13 to finish at 9-0 overall (7-0 league). St. Francis finished second in the Legends Division at 6-1 (8-1 overall).
Elk Rapids won 36-6 vs. Cheboygan last week. The Elks finished third in the Legends Division at 5-2 (7-2 overall). Grayling defeated Kalkaska 50-33 on Friday. The Vikings finished fourth in the Legends Division at 4-3 (6-3 overall).
Grayling, Boyne City, Elk Rapids, and Traverse City St. Francis all qualified for the MHSAA playoffs this year.
This week, during the MHSAA playoffs, Grayling (6-3) will play at Reed City (8-1). Boyne City (9-0) will host Glen Lake (6-2). St. Francis (8-1) will host Calumet (6-3). Elk Rapids (7-2) will host Ishpeming Westwood (8-1).
Last week’s scores and the final 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 – Final
Team, League, Overall
Boyne City .....................7-0 9-0)
St. Francis .....................6-1 (8-1)
Elk Rapids .....................5-2 (7-2)
Benzie Central...............0-7 (1-8)
Last week’s scores:
Boyne City 19, St. Francis 13
Grayling 50, Kalkaska 33
Kingsley 43, Benzie Central 28
Elk Rapids 36, Cheboygan 6
Legacy Division – Final
Team, League, Overall
Gaylord St. Mary............5-0 (9-0)
Harbor Springs...............3-2 (4-5)
Inland Lakes...................2-3 (2-7)
St. Ignace.......................1-4 (1-8)
East Jordan....................0-5 (1-8)
Last week’s scores:
St. Mary 41, East Jordan 8
Hillman 58, Inland Lakes 8
Joburg 50, Harbor Springs 8
Newberry 57, St. Ignace 20
Leaders Division – Final
Team, League, Overall
Glen Lake.......................3-0 (6-2)
Last week’s scores:
Glen Lake 56, Evart 0
Charlevoix 44, Mancelona 32