Traverse City Record-Eagle

July 24, 2009

TC Wolves gear up for home opener

Chicago is foe in Saturday's game

BY DENNIS CHASE

TRAVERSE CITY -- More than 1,400 tickets have been sold.

Ten light towers have been rented.

A new scoreboard is in place.

Two years in the works, owner Daniel Skibbe will see his dream realized Saturday night when the Traverse City Wolves host Chicago in their North American Football League home opener at Traverse City Central.

"This is something that's been boiling for two years," Skibbe said. "Now, it's here."

The Wolves, whose roster features several former area high school players, opened play last weekend with a 33-7 road win over Ypsilanti -- an outcome that's generated a buzz in town, Skibbe said.

"Tickets have been flying out the window," he said. "The victory last week really helped spark a lot of interest. This town is getting excited about us."

Chicago enters the game with an 0-1 record. The Wolverines lost their opener to the Indianapolis Tornados 40-0.

The Wolves, meanwhile, were dominant in beating Ypsilanti. They led 27-0 at half.

"It was exciting," linebacker Tyler Alpers said. "You're always nervous that first game because you never know how you'll come out and play. But we played fundamentally sound football, offensively and defensively. We need a repeat of that this week.

"We can't lose focus just because of what we did last week. That doesn't mean anything now. We have to come out and give that same type of effort every day, every game."

Alpers and Ryan Brown led the defense -- which did not surrender a first down (other than by penalty) until the fourth quarter -- with six tackles.

"We flowed to the ball really well," Alpers said. "We had 11 guys around the ball on almost every play. Guys were hustling, working hard."

The offense, led by quarterback Will Moran, went for nearly 400 yards. Moran completed 9 of 12 passes for 156 yards and three touchdowns.

"We were good and we were happy with the result," said Skibbe, who is also the team's head coach. "But we have a lot of work to do, too. Not to take anything away from Ypsilanti, but we did not play our best game."

What do the Wolves expect from Chicago? Well, they don't exactly know. They don't have any game film on the Wolverines.

"Our goal is to make sure we run our game plan the way we want to run it, and not let Chicago tell us how to run it," Skibbe said. "We'll look to establish the run, get them cheating in the box, and as soon as they do, we'll go up top just like we did last week."

And defensively?

"If we play our style of football," Alpers said, "we'll be fine."

Game time is 7 p.m.