**ARTICLE BY JOSH LONGSTRETH**
The Gladwin Flying G’s have put together a special year for their football program. Coming into the 2nd week of playoff action, Gladwin remains undefeated on the year and would have a chance to secure their first district title since 2000. The Flying G’s were able to cruise in last weeks opening round win over Ogemaw Heights, 35-20. Head Coach Marc Jarstfer knows this is when the competition is second to none each week, “It’ll be a great challenge for us this week, once you get to the playoffs it’s difficult sledding each week. This game is a chance to move into the top eight. We have to play well and limit turnovers”. He reiterated that against a solid Kingsford team, “They have some guys that are very shifty and can really take over a game. They show a lot of different looks that we need to be ready for”. The Kingsford Flivvers come into this one coming off a big come from behind win over Kingsley last week. Balanced on both sides of the ball, Kingsford would look to make the long trip back to the UP with some hardware in their possession. Gladwin just wouldn’t let them sniff that in front of a packed house at Gladwin High School.
The home town Flying G’s would get off and running early in this one. Gladwin would jump on top off a Nick Wheeler rushing TD. A good PAT would put them up 7-0 just a few minutes into the game. It wouldn’t be long before Gladwin found themselves on the board again. Lucas Mead would plunge into the endzone to give Gladwin a 14-0 after the PAT. As if the home faithful needed anymore excitement, it amped up even more with a quick start from the blue and white. Late in the opening stanza Kingsford would calm things down a bit. Cole Myllyla would find his way to paydirt on a play where he was able to not go down. A failed 2-point try would cut it to a 14-6 Gladwin lead.
Gladwin would grab the momentum right back early in the 2nd quarter. Logan Kokotovich would keep the offense rolling finding his own way into the endzone for six. This would make it a 20-6 game to that point. The Flying G’s defense would force another three-and-out on the ensuing drive and would they make it count. Wheeler would put Gladwin on the board again making it a 26-6 game. The wheels were rattling for the Flivvers and on the very next drive Wheeler would make sure they would completely come off. He’d find his way in again just midway through the 2nd quarter. A successful 2-point attempt would put the G’s in complete control, 34-6. They weren’t done yet in the half. Gladwin would keep the house rocking on a Logan Kokotovich TD on their ensuing drive. It would be 40-6 Gladwin with just a minute left in the half. The Flivver offense would give themselves some life though to wind down the half. Sophomore QB Nic Novara would connect with Nic Nora (Michigan Tech commit) on a deep pass that would cut the Gladwin lead to 41-12 heading into the half.
The 2nd half would start with a bang for Gladwin. Picking right up where they left off from the 1st half, Earl Esiline would break free and grab the first score of the half. Gladwin would take a 49-12 lead to begin the half. The Flivver offense would show some life midway through the 3rd. A great catch by Nora would cut it to a 49-18 Gladwin lead. That’s where we would stand after three quarters of play.
The offense of Gladwin used much of the 2nd half to put together methodical drives to take the clock down. The offensive line continued to dominate in the 4th. They would tack on another three more after a Treyton Siegert FG making it a 52-18 game. The Kingsford offense was able to put some things together, however. Novara would find Cardel Martin where Martin would do the rest take it all the way in. This would cut it to a 52-25 game. Gladwin started the scoring, they would end the scoring. Esiline would punch one in to top things off. Gladwin grabs their first district title since 2000 ending the Kingsford season, 59-25.
The Gladwin offense came out and piled up 484 yards on the ground in this one. Earl Esiline lead the way with 244 yards rushing to go with 2 TD’s. Logan Kokotovich piled up 140 yards with 2 TD’s. Wheeler pitched in with 88 yards rushing and 3 TD’s. Lucas Mead helped with a rushing TD. The Gladwin defense forced several 3-and outs on the day. They would limit the Flivver offense outside of a few explosive plays on the day.
There’s no denying it in this one, Gladwin came out laser focused. It was a team that got off to a fast start much like most of their season. The offensive line is dominant and they control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. When the running game is going, it can be tough to stop. The run game is powerful but there’s a lot of speed as well. Receivers do a great job blocking and when they have a chance to make a play in the pass game they make the most of it. The leadership is tremendous as it’s a group that’s talking at all times and helping guys out. If you’re a Gladwin football fan, buckle up. It’s a team that has the look to be playing late into November.
Gladwin remains undefeated on the year, but the road will not get any easier. They’ll face a Muskegon Oakridge team that is very good. It’ll be interesting to see if the Eagles can slow down a Gladwin offense that is clicking on all cylinders. That should be one heck of a matchup when the two face off next week. The day and time are to be determined.