2014-11-06 / Sports

Suttons Bay players ready for Gladiators


ZACK RICE of Suttons Bay carries a couple of Mancelona defenders — Chase Ritchie (9) and Nick Biehl — after a short run Friday night. ZACK RICE of Suttons Bay carries a couple of Mancelona defenders — Chase Ritchie (9) and Nick Biehl — after a short run Friday night. Suttons Bay football players appear more respectful than intimidated about facing Traverse City St. Francis, which has won five state titles. The teams will clash Friday night in the District finals of the state playoffs after recording lopsided wins in the first round of play.

“They are a very good football team and a powerhouse in sports,” said senior receiver and defensive back Lars Thornton. “But we shouldn’t be intimidated. We have to play harder than them, play smart, play physical.”

Added junior linebacker Zach Smith, the team’s leading tackler, “I think with St. Francis, it’s a mental game. We have to think of them as a faceless opponent. If we play the best we can, I feel we can leave the field with a win.

“We’re a good team, also.”

The Norsemen have been on a roll since losing to Glen Lake in their opener by one point when a controversial ruling by officials determined that their final offensive play ended up inches from the goal line. Suttons Bay coach Joe Trudeau thought otherwise, but the result was still a 14-13 loss.

Since then, the Norsemen have reeled off nine straight wins.

“We’re not undefeated,” said Thornton while reflecting on the team’s journey. “And we haven’t gotten all of the goals we set, but we are still playing. I think the Glen Lake game motivated us to finish strong.”

It’s the first playoff experience for both players, who started on the varsity in their sophomore seasons.

“The playoffs are a new thing to us,” said Smith. “We’ve made it this far. I just feel we’re all ready to go out and play our best football. This is fun; it’s a new season.”

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