BY DENNIS CHASE
KALKASKA — Grayling moved a step closer Friday night to its first Lake Michigan Conference football title — and first perfect regular season.
Ty Jensen rushed for 133 yards and a touchdown while Scout Tobin broke two long plays for scores as the Vikings defeated Kalkaska 33-6.
Grayling improved to 7-0 overall, 4-0 in the league, with the win. The Vikings are tied with Boyne City atop the league. The two squads collide in two weeks.
"This is a great program, great team," Jensen said. "I'm proud to be a part of it. We all are."
Kalkaska was looking to clinch a playoff berth and stay in the hunt in the Lake Michigan Conference. But the Vikings defense never let Blazers backs Zach Hill and Kaleb Hauser get untracked. Kalkaska, now 3-2 in the league and 5-2 overall, came into the contest averaging nearly 35 points a game.
"Our defense really picked us up," Grayling coach Tim Sanchez said. "Our offense made some big plays when they needed to, but our defense was just outstanding. I thought for sure Kalkaska would put up some points on us, but coach (Kevin) O'Connell did a great job dialing up a defensive game plan. Our kids were hungry. They did a great job tackling and swarming to 12 (Hill) and 25 (Hauser)."
The Vikings bolted to a 12-0 lead 10 minutes into the game. After Grayling recovered a Kalkaska fumble at the Blazers 35, Jensen capped a quick four-play drive with a four-yard scoring run.
Grayling covered 80 yards in four plays on its next possession to go up two scores. A Jake Swander to Tobin pass accounted for the final 51 yards.
"I was about to dive for it, but the wind pushed it back and right into my hands," Tobin said.
Kalkaska did itself no favors. Two holding penalties negated two Hauser touchdowns — one in each half. The Blazers also failed to convert on a 4th-and-1 at the Vikings 6 in the first half.
"We weren't ready to play," Blazers coach Jeremy Wilkinson said. "Way too many mistakes. Some of the mistakes we made were big, too. We just never snapped out of it."
The Vikings put the game away with two touchdowns in the third quarter — a 10-yard Swander to Tyler McClanahan pass and a 33-yard Tobin run.
"The line gave me a huge hole," Tobin said. "Easy touchdown."
Hill moved to quarterback late in the third quarter and engineered a 67-yard drive that culminated with his seven-yard scoring run.
Grayling closed out the scoring on a Kevin Harris 23-yard run.
"They have a great team," Jensen said of the Blazers. "So we had to be better. We had to be disciplined. I give all the credit to the coaches because they set up the schemes. We just did what they told us."
Swander finished 18 of 37 for 235 yards. Tobin rushed for 76 yards and caught two passes for 72.
"Grayling's a tough team," Wilkinson said. "We knew they were tough. This shows why everybody picked them to win the conference."
Grayling picked up some additional playoff points when St. Francis beat Saginaw Nouvel.
"I'm happy for Greg (Vaughan) and his staff," Sanchez said. "They deserve it. They've got good kids over there. They hit a little rough patch there, but that's huge for them, huge for us."