BY MIKE ECKERT
TRAVERSE CITY — Last Saturday was not one to remember for the Traverse City Wolves.
The North Division title and homefield advantage in the playoffs were on the line at Thirlby Field against the Capital City Stealth. And the Stealth came out on top 22-12.
The Wolves are hoping this Saturday will be much more memorable.
"We're going to come out stronger, firing on all cylinders, ready to go," Wolves coach Brad Haney said.
TC (8-2) will travel to Capital City for a 4 p.m. showdown in the opening round of the NAFL playoffs. The game will be played at Okemos Middle School.
"The good thing about it is after a loss, we've come out of the gates on fire for the next few weeks," Haney said.
In the regular season, the Wolves lost to Indianapolis 34-11, but came right back the next week with a 56-4 win over the Michigan Vikings. So will history repeat itself?
"We just didn't execute," Haney said of Saturday's loss. "We watched film for 2 hours and showed them why we played that way. Guys were not doing the stuff they've been taught. I think they realize that.
"It showed Saturday that when we play down to the level of an average team, they will take advantage of it."
Traverse City opened the season at Capital City and came away with a 40-17 win. So for the rubber match — and a spot in the second round of the playoffs — the Wolves will be playing somewhere they're familiar with.
"We'll see come Saturday, but I think so," Haney said when asked if it will help playing in familiar surroundings. "We know where we're going, we know the environment. We've been there, we've done that. And we took them down there."
After a pair of meetings this season, the two teams should be more than familiar with each other.
"They're very disciplined," Haney said. "They don't do anything fancy, they just do the little things the right way and stick to their gameplan."
Haney gave his team Thursday off from practice to heal up heading into the playoffs.
"We'll be ready to go," he said. "We'll be short-handed, but we have a lot of faith in our other guys."
The biggest injury for the Wolves is the loss of wide receiver Josh Tomaszewski, who tore his ACL two weeks ago in Ontario. His absence certainly played into the outcome last Saturday.
"It helped to get some more footage on the other guys," Haney said. "(Tomaszewski) was our quarterback's No. 1 guy. We did a lot of rotating, so now we've seen them on film."
The winner of Saturday's game will face either the Indianapolis Tornados or the La Crosse (Wisc.) Rough Riders for the North Central Regional title