LINCOLN – The Alcona soccer team has certainly had great success in its second season of 8-man soccer.
The Tigers had six straight wins earlier in the year and even drew the attention of many across the state for being ranked an eighth-rate team in the latest Associated Press polls.
“We were able to hit the ground running, we had an idea of what was going on and how it was going to affect us and what 8-man was really like,” Alcona coach Jason Somers said of the build-up to last year’s 5-4 season. “It’s a bit different than 11-man, but I think our coaches have done a great job and our guys have also prepared great mentally for all of that.”
The Tigers opened the season with an 82-52 win over Mio, followed by overwhelming victories over Hale, Atlanta, Hillman and Charlton Heston.
They also managed an away win at a tough Inland Lakes team last week, 50-40. The Bulldogs play deep in the Division 1 postseason annually and Somers called this win over Inland Lakes a significant win for the program.
“It doesn’t surprise me at all,” Somers said of the team’s success. “The kids have been working really hard in the off-season and in the weight room. We even went to Alpena to play 7v7 against a team of 11. We wanted to challenge ourselves and make it difficult for ourselves to get better in the summer.”
The Tigers have averaged 60 points per game. Sophomore quarterback Garrett Somers is just as happy to flare up offense with a pass; has 1,182 yards and 17 touchdowns through the air or on the ground; He has a team high for 519 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground. Juniors Jesse Sheldon and Collin Walker have 510 and 419 yards rushing, respectively, to give their groundplay plenty of options. Walker is also a threat, having 500+ yards that way, and tying the state record for one-game receptions with 16 in the win over Inland Lakes. Jeremiah Bullis is also a major threat in the passing game after zipping through the air for over 300 yards.
“Not many people have noticed (our balance),” Somers said. “I don’t think there’s a good way to (defend) us. We’re a transient team when we want to be, we’re an ongoing team when we need to be. This dual threat makes it really difficult to prepare for us.”
The Tigers end the season with perhaps their toughest games. They played Inland Lakes last week, one won. They will host eighth-placed Division 2 team Au Gres for a league crossover game tonight and close out the year with Rogers City and 10th-placed Whittemore-Prescott attempting to clinch the North Star League’s Big Dipper title to win.
“We need to get Rogers City and WP (to get the championship),” Somers said. “This is definitely difficult, but boy is it fun. It’s super fun to play in this environment so late in the season. We’re really looking forward to that, we just have to be up to the task and that keeps us focused on one game at a time.”