GRAYLING — Grayling senior receiver Tyler McClanahan knew he didn’t want to end his stellar prep career losing at home to U.P. rival Kingsford. On Saturday in the Division 5 pre-district playoff opener against the Flivvers, he helped to make sure it didn’t happen.
McClanahan caught 10 passes for 191 yards and three touchdowns as the high-octane Vikings outscored the visitors 42-25 in a thrilling slugfest to advance to the district title game against Menominee.
“Our mindset going in was revenge for them beating us up there last year (in the playoff opener),” said McClanahan, who also re-set the single-season Grayling receiving record with his performance Saturday. “There’s no way we wanted to lose to them at home, especially all the seniors. In three years on the varsity, none of us seniors have ever lost a home game.”
Grayling (9-1), the No. 2 seed, travels to the western U.P. to take on the top-seeded Maroons (10-0), who defeated Houghton 63-6 in Saturday’s other district contest. It is the third time in the past four years that Grayling will play at Menominee in the postseason.
Last year, Grayling didn’t play at Menominee but traveled to nearby Kingsford to open the playoffs and lost 36-14. This year, the Flivvers made the long trip from the U.P. to Grayling and the Vikings returned the favor.
McClanahan had TD catches of 11, 50 and 9 yards, all in the first half, as Grayling built a 28-13 advantage.
The Flivvers closed the gap to 28-19 on their first possession of the third quarter but the Vikings answered right back a minute later as senior QB Jake Swander fired his fourth TD pass of the game, a missile that Brandon Latusek wrestled away from converging Kingsford defender Cole Tengesdahl in the corner of the end zone.
Kingsford trimmed the lead to 35-25 early in the fourth quarter but the Vikings responded with an 18-play, 80-yard drive to finally seal the victory with 2:50 remaining when Swander found a seam up the middle on a keeper from 3 yards out. Kevin Harris’s fifth successful PAT of the game gave the home team an insurmountable 17-point lead.