• American Legion BB 6/21: Escanaba 9, Plover 7
  • American Legion BB 6/21: Gladstone 8, Niagara 0
  • American Legion BB 6/21: Marquette 12, Saginaw 3
  • American Legion BB 6/21: Norway 7, Copper Country 4
  • American Legion BB 6/21: Norway 13, Eastern U.P. 2
5971 articles
Tuesday June 25, 2024
DOMINATING OPENER: Braves Smack Marquette

Click the thumbnails to see photos and videos, land isten to post-game interviews with Nate Young, Casey Alworden, and Braves Coach Craig Ness.

Also click the AUDIO buttons to listen to the radio replay of the game, and halftime interviews with Austin Solis and Johnny Soderman, and Marquette Coach Eric Mason.

The Gladstone High School football team dominated in all three phases of the game Friday night and vlew past Marquette, 36-7, in the season opner at the Marble Athletic Field. Braves senior Nate Young intercepted three passes on defense, including one for a touchdown, and he had a hand in three touchdowns on offense.

"I thought at times, we played very well," Gladstone Coach Craig Ness said. "We took advantage of a couple of things that we thought we could. Nate executed the way we thought he would. (Linemen) Wyatt Cole and Giant Aaron Hughes played their butts off."

"I'm very proud of them. How about Aaron Hughes leading Nate Young into the end zone on that (pick-six) interception? He's 6-5, 240 pounds, busting his tail, playing both ways. He's a man-child."

That pick-six for Young, his third interception of the game, put the mercy rule into effect late in the third quarter as the Braves went ahead, 36-0. Marquette scored a touchdown to break the shutout in the fourth quarter, but that did nothing to take away from a dominating performance on the defensive side of the ball that lasted virtually the entire game.

"I saw the ball coming, the guy wasn't looking, so I was like, okay, I'll take it," Young said. "My calves were about to cramp on the way to the end zone, but we make it! It's a great way to start the year. We played physical. That's pur style of football. They beat me up pretty good, but I can take it."

Gladstone's derfense set the tone on the opening series with a three-and-out, and a short punt set the Braves up at the Marquette 42-yard-line. But Marquette dodged a bullet as Kyler Sager jumped in front of Kaden Gibbs and intercepted Young's pass at the five yard line.

"That was my bad," Ness admitted. "I thought I saw something and Marquette adjusted."

But that Gladstone defense drove the Redmen back to their own one-yard-line on three negative runs by Tucker Welch, and after a punt from the end zone, the Braves took over at the Marquette 39-yard-line. Four plays later, Young found Casey Alworden under the coverage with the pass. Alworden slipped past the defenders into the end zone for a touchdown.

"Good way to start the season," Alworden said. "We started hot and kept it up all the way through the game. I think I did good. Trying to do my job throughout the whole game."

He did his job, especially on special teams, with several long punt returns that set the Braves up in positive field position. That, combined with the dominance of the defense, saw the Gladstone offense start inside Redmen territory multiple times.

The defense came through two plays after Alworden's opening touchdown as Young intercepted his first pass of the night. And four offensive plays later, on fourth-and-six, Young dumped off a screen pass to Austin Solis. Solis picked his way up the sidelines into the end zone for a touchdown. The second straight two-point pass to Kaden Gibbs made it 16-0.

Marquettte's offense continued to sputter, and the Braves stopped them on a 4th-and-2 at the 43 yard-line as Welch was thrown for a three-yard loss. Gladstone navigated the 40 yards in seven plays, helped along by a pass interference penalty, and Young scored on a three-yard bootleg to the left. A pass to Alworden on the two-point conversion made it 24-0.

That's how it was at halftime as the two teams exchanged interceptions: Marquette senior Will Gale.on a Young pass along the sideline, and then Eli Berthaume on a Jaxon Jurmu desperation heave on the final play of the first half.

It was a 24-0 game at the half, but Marquette had successfully shut down the Gladstone running game. That changed on the first possession of the third quarter as the Braves went on an 85-yard, 13-play, drive that chewed up nine minutes of clock. Trevor Thorbahn scored from nine yards out, with several of his linemen pushing him (and the pile) the final few yards.

"I challenged them," Ness said. "We turned it into some old-fashioned power football. I'm really damn proud of those kids. They were base plays. They just came off the ball, and they wanted it more."

Then the icing on the cake was the pick-six for Young, and the Braves were 1-0 heading into next week's early-season showdown against the Negaunee Miners.

The Miners beat the Braves twice last year, including a tight state quarterfinal game as Negaunee made its way to a state championship game berth at Detroit's Ford Field.

"Everybody strives to be a Negaunee-type program," Ness said. "They're in the playoffs year-in, year-out. It's a program you want to play. It tests you. It sees where you're at. The better team will come out and hopefully we get 'er done."

"They got the best of us the past few years," Young said. "We've just got to work hard and come up with a good game plan."

Thursday night's game starts at 7:00. It will be broadcast live on FM-93.5 and AM-600 on the radio, and on the Internet at www.rrnsports.com.

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