2018-09-12 / Sports

Battle of unbeatens meet in BWAC clash

810-452-2632 • krichardson@mihomepaper.com
810-452-2651 • bpope@mihomepaper.com

Almont’s Jace Rinke puts a move on an Algonac defender during last week’s con CLASH test.Photo by Austin VanDaele Almont’s Jace Rinke puts a move on an Algonac defender during last week’s con CLASH test.Photo by Austin VanDaele ALMONT — Both the Almont and North Branch football teams will head into Friday’s game with hopes of remaining undefeated through the first four weeks of the 2018 campaign. With both teams off to a hot start, a win won’t be an easy feat for either.

Almont has successfully outscored its opponents 148-20, while North Branch has surpassed its opponents 161-59. Along with massively outscoring their opponents, both teams have already accomplished huge tasks this season. Almont took down Algonac for the first time in four seasons, while North Branch has already notched three wins on the season after just one win last year.

Friday’s game will be a tale of the run game, as both offensives have capitalized on the success of their running backs.

The Raiders have five core running backs that have put up numerous yards and touchdowns on the ground. Jace Rinke, Michael Lulgjuraj and Austin Cody have done the majority of the work, with Rinke racking up seven touchdowns and 135 yards. Lulgjuraj has added 223 yards and four touchdowns, while Cody has 190 yards and a touchdown. Jack Paupert and Lucas Delaurier have also been key to the run game.

Standout receiver Colby Schapman has also been key to the offensive success of Almont. Schapman has been at the receiving end of almost every pass from quarterback Josh Hellebuyck, tallying 322 yards and six touchdowns.

North Branch’s offense put up 688 yards last week, as Christian Coy racked up 307 yards and five touchdowns. Facing off with Almont will be the Broncos first big test this season and is also the return of North Branch coach Jeremy Ferman to Almont, where he twice took the Raiders to the state semifinal when he was at their helm. The two teams are also now league rivals after North Branch left the Tri-Valley Conference-East to join the Blue Water Area Conference.

Defense will likely be a key factor with both teams having seemingly unstoppable rushing attacks. Also look for North Branch quarterback Gerrid Rutledge to air it out from time to time to catch the defense off guard and balance out the offense.

Regardless of who wins, that team will move up the league race ladder one rung, leaving the other with a stinging loss.

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