Home > Northern looking to stay in hunt at Sterling Heights | USA Today High School Sports

Northern looking to stay in hunt at Sterling Heights | USA Today High School Sports

Port Huron Northern ended its football practice on Tuesday with a healthy dose of sprints.

After that, they took a knee and looked up at head coach Larry Roelens, who said words that will surely be repeated until they kick off at Sterling Heights on Friday.

The first message for the Huskies (4-3 overall, 2-2 MAC Gold) is simple – win and you’re in. With two games to go, the Huskies need to beat Sterling Heights (5-2, 3-1) and Port Huron (2-5, 1-3 MAC White) to earn a playoff berth.

“It’s a great situation to be in,” Roelens said. “My expectation in this program is to be here every year in this spot, and that’s what I’ve been telling the kids. Take one game at a time, and we can’t worry about things we can’t control.”

The second message was to a smaller group of players, telling his seniors he can only guarantee eight more days of football. Of course, if they win both and crack playoffs for the first time in five years that number of days will be raised.

“It’s so much more exciting than years past on varsity,” senior lineman Mike Mahaffy said. “I’ve been (on varsity) for three years and having actual contention for playoffs means a lot.”

In order to stay in the playoff hunt, Northern will have to win on the road this Friday at Sterling Heights. Both teams are coming off their biggest loss of the year as Northern lost to Marine City by 28 points and Sterling Heights lost to Marysville by 27.

“It was actually a good thing, to be honest,” Roelens said. “(Marine City) had their best game all season long and I had my worst game all season long … it’s good because it got our kids back focused, and now that we’re 4-2 we don’t have one to give up.”

Looking at last game, the biggest improvement Roelens wants to see is his team’s ability to run the ball. Last week the Huskies were stifled with 36 rushing yards on 32 attempts, but the spread offense was able to get 196 yards through the air.

The Stallions will also be running the same offense, stretching out the field with their speed on Friday. Since Northern plays the same style, Roelens believes that benefits his athletic defense.

“They’re very similar to us,” Roelens said. “They have some speed a little bit … it’s going to be a great football game on Friday night, and I think it will be a toss-up. We match up well with that offense because our defense sees that every day here at practice. For them, it’s kind of nice.”

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