**ARTICLE BY JOSH LONGSTRETH**
Putting together their best season in program history, Gladwin was able to cruise to a District Title against Kingsford last week, 59-25. The Flying G’s were off and running early in front of a boisterous home crowd who enjoyed every minute of it. It was a game in which Gladwin couldn’t take their foot of the pedal, however, knowing very well that the Flivvers made a big come back the previous week in their opening round win. The Flying G’s didn’t let them sniff that in this one. As we get deeper in the playoffs, you’re faced with a different test each week. Head coach Marc Jarsfter couldn’t reiterate that enough, “When you get to this level of playoff football, trying to get into the final four, I think it’s important we come out and play fundamentally sound football. Grab our points when we can and we really strive the basics. They’re a great all-around team with no weaknesses so we have to strive in our fundamentals”. They would be in for a tall task in facing a very good Oakridge team on a cold November afternoon.
This one would be a tight battle throughout the first quarter. Each team would really feel the other out in the opening 12:00. Turnovers would derail any points and we would head into the second quarter with no score.
Gladwin would finally put a big drive together early in the 2nd. They would break into the scoring column when Logan Kokotovich pounded it in from 3-yards out. This would give the Flying G’s an early 6-0 lead after a failed PAT. PAT’s would be hard to come by in this one with a nice breeze throughout the day. The Oakridge offense would feel a little urgency after the Gladwin score and they would come right back and put together their first scoring drive on the day. Trevor Jones, who was an absolute bruiser in this one, would find his way into the endzone to knot the score at 6-apiece. They would then take the lead after the two-point attempt was good. Gladwin would have a chance to grab some points in the waning minute of the half but the Eagles defense would stand tall. It would be Oakridge with the lead at the half, 8-6.
If you wanted some offense on this cold day, you would get it in the 3rd quarter. Earl Esiline would provide some big momentum for Gladwin when he would find some space and take one in all the way from 62-yards out. The two-point try was good and Gladwin would take the lead 14-6. The Eagles offense would put together a drive that seemed destined for points on the ensuing drive but a big stop from the Flying G’s defense would get the ball back for their offense. Gladwin would be able to gain a little breathing room with just a few ticks on the clock in the quarter. It would be Esiline again, this time on a 13-yard run. This would give the visiting team a 20-8 lead heading into the final quarter.
Gladwin’s defense would step up big in the 4th. They would limit the Eagles offense to hold on to the lead. The Gladwin offense would go right back to work and grab another big TD midway through the quarter. Nick Wheeler would plunge in from 3-yards away. The two-point try would be no good and Gladwin would have themselves a 26-8 lead. It would be enough in this one as Gladwin puts together a monster 2nd half to cruise past Oakridge.
The Oakridge defense did a great job of limiting the Gladwin offense in the first half but they couldn’t contain them in the second. Gladwin would grab 300 yards of total offense while limiting the Eagles to just 219 yards of total offense. Usually a dominant line on both sides of the ball, Oakridge gave Gladwin fits early in the game. Both lines would come up big after the half as Gladwin would finally be able to impose their will on the line of scrimmage. Earl Esiline was a game changer on the day much like he has been all year. He would rack up 145 yards on the ground to go with 2 TD’s on the day. Nick Wheeler was able to pitch in 78 yards on the ground with a TD. Logan Kokotovich added a TD on offense but was an absolute nightmare for the Eagles offense on the defensive side racking up 13 tackles for the Flying G’s defense. Trevor Jones was tough to stop for the Gladwin defense but they were able to limit his big play opportunities. He would go for 162 yards in this one with 1 TD.
The dream season continues for this Gladwin team. They were faced with some adversity today, and as great teams do, they responded in a big way coming out of the half. The Flying G’s will move to 12-0 on the season. Now capturing a district title and regional title, they’ll look to keep things rolling next week. They will face a Grand Rapids Catholic Central team who is widely known around the state on a yearly basis. The Cougars are coming in at 11-1 on the season, with the lone loss coming to a very good South Christian team 36-34. That one will be played at Ithaca High School with the time set for 1:00. This is one you will not want to miss.