League title and playoff push on the line as Michigan Center preps for Manchester
By Mike Moore
Michigan Center – The first week was somewhat lopsided, followed by a one-point loss in Week 2.
The walls could have caved in, a white towel possibly thrown.
But Troy Allen and the Michigan Center football team held firm, rallied past Napoleon 41-26, handled its business against East Jackson (42-0) and then pulled out a huge, 41-24 victory last week against Addison.
From 0-2 and in the lights being turned out to 3-2 and “every goal we set before the season still in front of us,” as Allen put it.
Now comes Manchester, a 4-1 squad riding a four-game win streak with an offense scoring at will.
“It’s a huge game for us,” Allen said simply. “We know we’re young, and we dropped a couple early games, but we’re in a position now where if we want a conference title and a possible playoff berth, these are games we have to win. We’re in must-win situation now.”
After falling to Clinton 20-19 in the season opener, Manchester has wins against Addison, Hanover-Horton, Grass Lake and East Jackson in games the Flying Dutchmen have scored 41, 41, 23 and 41 points, respectively.
“They mix up formations real well,” Allen said of the Manchester offense. “But the biggest thing is slowing down their running backs. I think (Trevor Humphrey) is one of the best in the county.”
To Allen’s point, Humphrey rushed for 374 yards on 33 carries and three touchdowns two weeks ago in the victory against Grass Lake.
“It’s a tall task, but we have to find ways to minimize the big plays he’s able to get,” Allen said.
As for the Cardinals’ offense, which has scored 110 points during the winning streak, Allen said he doesn’t plan to change very much.
“We’re scoring the past three games, and I think that has a lot to do with our skilled kids,” Allen said. “We’re doing a good job moving the ball right now, and we have to keep that up.”
The Cardinals were firing on all cylinders last weekend, as Tavian Gaddy passed for nearly 300 yards and four scores, connecting with six different receivers.
Four running backs had 20 yards or more, including Andrew Tordy who averaged 10.4 yards per carry and had two touchdowns on eight carries.
Needless to say, while Manchester has plenty of options when it comes to big plays, so does Michigan Center.
“We want a little redemption from last season,” Allen said. Manchester rolled to a 48-27 in Week 7 last fall when the Cardinals finished the season 3-6. “We set goals, and we have a couple goals sitting right in front of us right now. We started slow, but we still have the chance to accomplish everything we want to. The kids are aware what’s on the line.”
The Friday night game is also the 2015 Homecoming event for Michigan Center.
“That can be a distraction sometimes, but we’re going to look at the positives,” Allen said. “We feel like our home games are unlike any other we’ve seen. I’d certainly rather be here than Manchester. We’ll have some more people out to watch. Sure, there will be distractions, but the kids understand Homecoming and understand what we have to do here.”
Vandercook Lake (5-0, 4-0) sits alone atop the Cascades Conference standings, while Manchester (4-1, 4-0) and Michigan Center (3-2, 3-1) are right behind.