**ARTICLE BY JOSH LONGSTRETH**
Gladwin comes into the 2022 Playoffs at 9-0 on the year, their second season in a row doing so. The Flying G’s would pick up another big win last week using a big 2nd half to dominant a previously undefeated Standish Sterling team. Gladwin has catapulted all the way to #2 in Division 5. But even they know, it’s not enough for a team that has even higher goals. Now they have a chance in reaching those goals with the post-season beginning. They would see if they could keep that going facing an Ogemaw Heights team riding a 6-game winning streak. For the latter part of four weeks, the Falcons have dominated their opponents. They would give Gladwin some fits in this one.
The visiting Falcons would jump up early in this one. A 2-yard TD run plunge and successful PAT would give Ogemaw Heights a 7-0 lead. That’s where it would stand after one quarter, the first time on the year that Gladwin hasn’t had the lead heading into the 2nd.
Gladwin would get things rolling in the 2nd quarter. They would find the endzone for the first time on the night when Nick Wheeler would hook up with Kaden McDonald from 17-yards away. An Anna Seebeck point after would knot this would at 7-apeice. Wheelers would then find his own way in from 1-yard out. The PAT would be no good, but Gladwin would take their first lead on the night, 13-7. They would take that lead into the half with some momentum after one half of play.
The Flying G’s would give themselves some more breathing room early in the 3rd. On the first play from scrimmage in the half, Logan Kokotovich would find some room and take one 60-yards to paydirt. A Wheeler two-point conversion would put Gladwin up 21-7. Gladwin would settle in a bit here when Wheeler would scamper from 7-yards out giving his team a 28-7 lead after the Seebeck PAT. The Flying G’s would have all the momentum heading to the 4th.
Ogemaw Heights would draw a little closer, however. They’d open up the scoring in the 4th on a 22-yard TD run cutting the Gladwin lead to 28-14. Gladwin would then put together a monster drive that would take nearly 6:00 off the clock. It would be capped off by a Wheeler TD pass to Lucas Mead from 14-yards away. Seebeck would make it a 35-14 game late in the 4th. The Falcons would find the endzone again after a long kickoff return that was paid off by a 1-yard TD dive. It wouldn’t be enough though on this night as Gladwin grabs a playoff opening win, 35-20.
The Gladwin offense would rack up 373 yards of total offense on the night led by a balanced attack. Nick Wheeler would go 10 of 11 on the night for 124 yards passing, 2 TD’s, and just 1 INT. He pitched in another 87 on the ground and 2 TD’s. Logan Kokotovich had himself a night. He carried the ball 17 times for 154 yards, 1 TD, and led the Flying G’s defense with 9 tackles. Earl Esiline had 4 catches for 70 yards. Kaden McDonald and Lucas Mead each added a receiving TD.
There was never a doubt in this one even after trailing heading into the 2nd quarter for Gladwin. It could come as a blessing in disguise for them as they look to keep their season rolling. Head Coach Marc Jarstfer credited his offensive line for really setting the tone for much of the game. “Our offensive line should get a lot of credit in this game. They did a good job of providing opportunities for our backs to have success”. It was a performance that continued throughout and Jarstfer reiterated that, “The last drive was as good of a drive as we’ve had in a long time. We were able to take a little over six minutes off the clock and were able to get a TD off of it late”.
Gladwin will have a chance to continue what has been a special season next week. This time, they’ll have a chance to take down the Kingsford Flivvers. Kingsford comes out of the Greater Northern UP Conference. They come in at 7-3 on the season. The Flivvers were able to take down a tough Kingsley team on Friday night. They are making their 3rd trip in a row to the playoffs.