Wildcats aiming for win in home opener

Alpena’s 15-7 upset of Escanaba last Thursday helped break two streaks for Alpena: it was the first time it beat Escanaba since 2008 and the first time the Wildcats won their season opener since 2010.

The Wildcats hope to break a few more streaks tonight at home against Sault Ste. Marie. A win against Sault would guarantee its first two-win season since 2010 and its first pair of back-to-back wins since 2009.

“We have a lot of talent in the skilled positions this year and they’re doing a really good job. They really have the size and talent to make a big difference this year,” senior linebacker and running back Cade MacArthur said.

The game begins at 7 p.m. tonight at Wildcat Stadium.

Some of the Wildcats success in Escanaba can be attributed to new coach Mel Skillman’s spread offensive style. Although he wasn’t at the game on Thursday, this new style of play appeared to fit the Wildcats’ talent pool more smoothly.

“We’re getting into the rhythm a lot better. We’re learning the plays really well and we’re finally getting it. It’s a lot different than (former coach Jason) Dubey’s system, but it does seem to work for us,” junior quarterback Tyler Pintar said.

Pintar completed 14-of-29 passes in his first game as a varsity quarterback, picking up 122 yards. He also threw for one touchdown and two interceptions. Jordan Ferguson picked up 132 yards on 11 carries, including an 80-yard touchdown run.

Winning its first game of the season has given Alpena a whole new sense of confidence.

“It’s changed my way of thinking. It makes us think we can win, that we know how to win and that we can have a good season. I’ve seen the morale of the team go up so much and even the morale in the school. Kids in the school think we can win now and it feels great,” junior wide receiver and linebacker Josh Bell said.

The Blue Devils are coming off a 6-4 2012 season that saw them creep into the playoffs. However, they lost the first game of its 2013 season 23-7 to Petoskey and expectations are high at Alpena for a home win.

Sault has a potentially dangerous offensive weapon in senior running back Raynell Anderson. Anderson picked up 114 yards in the Petoskey loss.

“We’re definitely watching their running back (Anderson). We’ve seen some tapes and we know he’s really good. Defensively, we’re going to focus in on him and keep him from getting big gains,” Bell said.