BY DENNIS CHASE
TRAVERSE CITY — If area football teams are to win district titles this weekend, most will have to do it on the road.
Of the six area teams still alive, five will travel. Only Cadillac will play at home. The unbeaten Vikings host Big North rival Ogemaw Heights on Friday.
Facing the toughest assignments? The Grayling Vikings in Division 5 and the Glen Lake Lakers in Division 6. Grayling is at top-ranked Menominee on Saturday. Glen Lake is at top-ranked Ithaca on Friday.
Ithaca, in fact, has pieced together a 52-game winning streak that includes three consecutive state titles.
“You don’t win 52 games in a row and not be prepared — and that’s one thing about Ithaca, they’re well prepared,” Lakers coach Jerry Angers said.
The 10-0 Yellowjackets are outscoring opponents by nearly 50 points a game — 54.4 to 4.5
Quarterback Travis Smith, who has made a verbal commitment to Toledo, runs the offense. He’s completed 108 of 145 passes for 2,095 yards and 28 touchdowns. He’s also rushed for 385 yards and nine scores.
Bryan Shaw, a 5-11, 225-pound bruiser, is Ithaca’s leading rusher. Logan Hessbrook, Josh Hafner and Eli Villalobos are part of a talented receiving corp. The 6-3, 200-pound Hessbrook has snared 34 passes for 666 yards and 11 touchdowns. He’s rushed for 524 yards and another 10 scores.
“(Coach Terry Hessbrook) runs a great program,” Angers said. “They’re fun to watch on film, that’s for sure.”
Glen Lake enters the contest 9-1 after disposing of Lakeview 21-13 in last week’s pre-district. The Lakers can put up points, too, averaging 34 a game. Running back Trevor Apsey leads the attack. He’s rushed for 1,335 yards, averaging about 13 yards a carry.
Quarterback Carter Lee is back after missing time with an MCL injury. But running back-linebacker Travis Wiltjer injured an ankle in the final seconds of last Friday’s win.