KALKASKA — The Traverse City St. Francis Gladiators are headed back to the playoffs for the seventh year in a row following a 61-7 trouncing of Kalkaska in Kalkaska on Friday.
This season marks the 29th time in the last 30 years the Gladiators (6-2, 5-1 NMFL-Legends) will be making an appearance in the postseason (they went 4-5 in 2012) but it didn’t come without it’s share of worries.
“We talked about it quite a bit after getting that second loss, it was a big deal to get that sixth win to guarantee us a playoff spot,” Glads head coach Josh Sellers said.
Any worry of a loss on Friday went away quickly as the Gladiators put up 21 points in the first quarter and led 49-0 at halftime.
‘We came out and executed very well in all three phases of the game,” Sellers said. “We also had a lot of short fields we were able to capitalize on.”
The Gladiators had six different players score a touchdown on the ground and had 13 different players have at least one carry.
Aidan Schmuckal led the way with three rushing scores and 71 yards on four carries. Jack Williams had six carries — the most of any Gladiator — for 43 yards and scored a touchdown.
Sterling Holcom led the backfield with 74 yards on the ground, breaking off the longest run of the day for 49 yards and a touchdown.
Tyler Arntz and Kolin Endres each scored on the ground as well.
Andy Simaz provided a spark on defense when he forced a fumble on a designed blitz, scooped the ball and scored from 45-yards out to put the exclamation point on the big win — he also rushed for a touchdown.
Keegan Burley had the lone touchdown for the Blazers (0-8) and 58 yards rushing. Ben Porter led the Blazers with 60 rushing yards and went 1-for-8 passing for 15 yards.
The Gladiators will face off with Muskegon Oakridge (8-0) in the final game of the season. Oakridge won 27-20 over Ravenna in overtime on Friday.
“It’s going to be a great challenge for us and will be a good barometer for us going into the playoffs,” Sellers said of the looming matchup.