(Courtesy Photo/Jim Hargrove, Sports Photography America)
by Graham Sturgeon, co-editor
The Morrice Orioles football team began its 2018 season, its fifth as an 8-man football team, with the goal of winning the 8-man Division 1 state championship after finishing 9-2 in 2017. With a 44-16 win over the previously undefeated Pickford Panthers on Saturday, Nov. 17 at Northern Michigan University’s Superior Dome, the team accomplished its goal in dominating fashion and secured a perfect 13-0 record to boot.
The Orioles entered the championship game having outscored their previous 12 opponents by a 521 to 62 margin, including six consecutive shutouts from Sept. 21 through Oct. 26, and the Orioles again stepped up on both sides of the ball. After finishing the first quarter tied with Pickford at eight points apiece, the Orioles shut down the Panthers, outgaining Pickford 353 to 255 for the game, and cruising to a decisive victory.
Quarterback Hunter Nowak (shown) led the Orioles with 192 yards rushing on 41 carries, running for three touchdowns and throwing for another, a 15-yarder to running back Austin Edington, who also rushed for 122 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.
While the Orioles’ offense gets most of the headlines, the team’s defense was just as dominating this season and in the championship game against Pickford. The Panthers came into the game averaging 54 points-per-game, and they scored on their opening drive of the game to take an 8-0 lead. The Morrice defense came to life after that, shutting the opposing offense down until Pickford scored its final touchdown with 1:24 remaining in the third quarter.
Leading the defense were Beau Dietz, with 10 tackles, followed by Connor Lucas, with seven tackles. Shane Cole and Jarrett Wood each recorded an interception to give the Orioles a plus-two turnover advantage.