Northern Michigan Game of the Week: Big North favorites collide

Cadillac @ Traverse City West
With Petoskey’s fall from grace, the Big North Conference looks like it’s down to a three-team race amongst Cadillac, TC Central and TC West. Two of those meet Friday when Cadillac, 4-0, 2-0, heads to Traverse City West, 3-1, 2-0. Neither team has been challenged in the Big North, with Cadillac rolling over Petoskey and Gaylord, and West beating up on Gaylord and Alpena. West has also proven itself against solid West Michigan competition, losing a close one at Kenowa Hills, then winning a close one over Grand Haven.

The Vikings and Titans are similar in that they play defense and take care of the ball. West, in particular, has benefited from its takeaway margin. The strength of Cadillac’s defense is up front, led by behemoth seniors Riley Norman and Jack Ford, with junior linebacker Trevor Oliver cleaning up behind them. They’ll get to bang against another D1 lineman, West junior guard Connor Hayes. Gaylord was limited to under 100 yards total offense last week. West’s D is led by Derek Diver, a senior born to play middle linebacker at 6-3, 218, while junior  Jordan Stevenson is solid at OLB and 6-4, 218 defensive end James Peck can be a playmaker when he gets into the backfield. Alpena was held to 110 yards total offense last week.

This game will also feature the Big North’s top QBs.West senior Donny Cizek was injured last season but is making up for lost time. He’s 37-53 throwing for 522 yards and seven TDs, and has run for two more scores. He has a number of weapons at his disposal, most prominently junior Grant Balino, a run/catch threat out of the backfield. While Cizek is a solid quarterback who can control a game, his Cadillac counterpart, junior Jalen Brooks, is a dynamic talent who can take over a game, the perfect complement to the Vikings’ big senior line. He wasn’t the only running threat against Gaylord, as Tanner Derror rushed for 114 yards.

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