Ludington’s football team will be renewing a series that stretches beyond 100 years when it travels to Petoskey for a season-opening non-conference game Thursday evening.
Both high schools were 3-6 overall last year, but Ludington football coach Charlie Gunsell is quick to point out the tough football schools from the Big North Conference.
“The record is a bit deceptive as Petoskey was playing very good competition,” Gunsell said.
According to Gunsell, the kids and the coaching staff are excited and ready to play.
“We just need to play people now,” said Gunsell. “The kids are invested. They have paid the price in the weight room and in conditioning and are ready to play.”
Gunsell says Petoskey is bigger and stronger than the Orioles. Jim Webb is the coach and the Northmen are an extremely disciplined team. The Orioles watched the Northmen scrimmage against Mount Pleasant and Swan Valley, and they saw them hold their own.
The Orioles will want to spread out the offense to force the Northmen to cover the entire the field. The same could be said of the defense.
“We need to get them in to space on both sides of the ball to be successful,” Gunsell commented. “They will want to get us in to the telephone booth and beat us up.”
Gunsell says both teams have strengths and success will depend on staying true to the Orioles’ strengths.
“Kids want to play in front of people,” Gunsell commented, as he talked about the Ludington faithful making the trip to Petoskey. “Petoskey’s football facilities are some of the nicer ones in the State of Michigan. It will be good for fans of Ludington football to see this awesome facility.”
He is hoping a bunch of people will come and take in the day of football.
“We are excited to play Petoskey. It is a great way to open up the season and I hope we continue to do so. We like playing these road trip games before the school year begins,” Gunsell said.
Both high schools have had a change in the make-up of the conference they will compete in for 2022. The Big North Conference has gotten smaller as Traverse City Central and Traverse City West left for the Saginaw Valley League, leaving only four schools to compete in the league including Petoskey.
Ludington has moved from the Lakes 8 Activities Conference to the new dual division West Michigan Conference, a conference rich in football history.
History is also within the series. The Ludington-Petoskey football series began in 1911, when the Orioles won the first game, 11-0, and the all-time record stands at 12-12-0, making the game on Thursday a tie-breaker with bragging rights.
The Orioles last played the Northmen in 1994, when Petoskey won, 14-6. Ludington last won in 1991, and Petoskey currently has a three game win streak.
Thursday has quite the line-up of games that will be of interest to high school football fans in Mason County. Mason County Central’s junior varsity team plays the Petoskey freshmen squad at 1 pm on Thursday, followed by the Orioles’ JV team taking on Petoskey’s JV at 3 pm and the flagship varsity game is slated for a 6 pm kickoff.