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Tuesday December 6, 2022
LONG TIME COMING: Braves Win Football District

Click the thumbnails to see photos and video highlights, and hear post-game comments from Cole Potier, Tyler Darmogray, Mitch Cartwright, Austin Solis, and Coach Craig Ness.

Also listen to player spotlight interviews witrh Drake Johnson and Casey Alworden. And listen to the radio broadcast of the game, broken into 20-minute segments.

GLADSTONE---
The Gladstone High School football team scored 28 unanswered points to beat the Manistee Chippewas, 36-14, in the MHSAA Division Six district championship game Friday night. The Braves move to the state's Final Eight for the first time since 2008.

Cole Potier rushed for 157 yards on 21 carries and scored on touchdown runs of 29 amd 25 yards to lead the Braves offense.

Quarterback Nate Young added 93 yards on eight carries, including a three-yard touchdown run. He also threw two touchdown passes: a 15-yarder to Kaden Gibbs and a 17-yard connection with big sophomore tight end Aaron Hughes.

And on defense, the Braves shut down the Chippewas after their first two touchdown drives. A sack by Gibbs on 4th-and-11 from the Gladstone 35 by Gibbs was huge late in the second quarter when the game was tied at 14-14.

Then, with eight minutes left in the game, senior Tyler Darmogray intercepted a pass along the near sideline to set the Braves offense up in scoring position.

Potier scored on a 25-yard touchdown run on the next play, and Potier ran in the two-point conversion, making it a 30-14 game with 6:52 left.

And then on the next possession, the run-heavy Chippewa team was forced to throw, and another Braves senior, Mitch Cartwright, intercepted a pass at the 22 yard-line.

Four plays later, Young hit Hughes with the touchdown pass on 3rd-and-9, and that was the dagger, 36-14,

Early in the game, Manistee's running game did its job as the rain poured down at the Marble Athletic Field. The Chippewas stuffed Potier on a 4th-and-4 at the Manistee 44 yard-line, and then Manistee went on a 56-yard drive that was capped off by a three-yard touchdown run by Nick H0rnkohl. The two-point play failed, so Manistee led, 6-0.

The Braves responded, with Young using his running ability at the quarterback position while the Manistee defense hassled Potier.

Young's 36-yard run set the Braves up in the red zone, and then he ran it in himself from eight yards out to tie the game at 6-6.

Potier's two-point run made it an 8-6 Gladstone lead.

But Manistiee, which upset previously-undefeate Boyne City by one point last week, came right back up field. This time, the 58-yard drive was capped off by a Jeff Huber-to-Hornkohl eight-yard touchdown pass. Hornkohl ran in the two-point play to make iy 14-8.

The Braves went three-and-out on offense, and it looked like trouble was looming. But Elliot Vitito, who missed four weeks with an ankle injury, came through with a big punt that set the Chippewass back to their own 11 yard-line to start their offensive possession.

The Gladstone defense forced a three-and-out, and a short punt was returned by Casey Alworden to the Manistee 29 yard-line. It took only one play for "Big Putch", Potier, to sprint along the Braves sideline to score the tying touchdown with 7:53 left in the half.

The Chippewas put together another nice drive, starting on their own 26 yard-line, and using 13 plays, all on the ground, to get into Gladstone territory. But that's when Gibbs got the huge sack on Huber on fourth down, to give the Braves one more offensive chance before halftime.

And it didn't take long for Young to lead his team down the field.

A 24-yard pass to Vitito got things started (one of only four completions Young had in this monsoon). Then Young used his feet for anothet 26-yard run, and all of a sudden, the Braves were in the red zone. And Young, on 3rd-and-7 from the 15-yard line, found Gibbs open in the front of the end zone. It was a sliding catch for Gibbs, still playing with the club and heavily-wrapped hand. And Austin Solis scored the two-point play to make it 22-14 at the half.

Solis, incidentally, was a beast on defense, making tackle after tackle, especially early in the game when the Manistee running backs were getting penetration off the line of scrimmage. The same can be said for Cartwright, who had several bone-jarring hits and has turned into one of the top linebackers in the Upper Peninsula.

Solis's solo tackle-for-loss to start the second half against Kaden Kott on 3rd-and-7 gave the Braves the ball again. The Chippewas' Caden VanSickle got off a monster punt that buried Gladstone back to its own eight yard-line.

On offense, leading by eight, Potier and Solis took turns driving the Braves 61 yards up field into the red zone. But the Chips' defense stiffened, stopping both Solis and Potier for no gain, and two incomplete passes later, Manistee had the ball back, 81 yards away from a possible tying touchdown and two-point conversion.

Manistee got one first down, but Huber was flushed from the pocket, and appeared to be trying to throw the ball out of bounds as two guys chased him. The ball didn't make it, and Darmogray intercepted it. One play later, Potier was in the end zone again, and that was that.

Gladstone improved to 9-2 on the season, and advanced to the Elite Eight in the state Division Six playoffs. And because the Braves have so many playoff points, they will be at home again next weekend, against the winner of Saturday's Menominee-Negaunee game.

Manistee finished its season in the tough Muskegon-area league with a 7-4 record. The Chippewas were led by Hornkol's 119 rushing yads on 19 carries. Isaiah Davis, who palyed so well last week against Boyne City, had 42 yards on 14 touches. Kott had 45 yards on 12 carries.




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