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FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Big North Conference

By: MATTHEW B. MOWERY, August 29, 2019, 10:23 am

BIG NORTH CONFERENCE

Returning all-state players 

Tylor McCoon (2021), P, Traverse City Central (AP Division 1-2 all-state 2nd team)

Trey Searles (2020), WR, Traverse City Central (AP Division 1-2 all-state HM)

Kaleb Kindsvatter (2020), P/K, Petoskey (AP Division 3-4 all-state 2nd team)

Tip Baker (2020), QB, Cadillac (AP Division 3-4 all-state HM)

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Returning all-league players

Trey Searles (2020), WR, Traverse City Central (1st team)

Kaleb Kindsvatter (2020), P/K, Petoskey (1st team)

Tylor McCoon (2021), P, Traverse City Central (1st team)

Dakota Simerson (2020), DL, Cadillac (1st team)

Christian Boivin (2021), LB, Traverse City West (1st team)

Alec Barczewski (2020), DB, Cadillac (1st team)

Mitchell Pfeifer (2020), OL, Alpena (2nd team)

Eli Winter (2020), LB, Alpena (2nd team)

Seth Gallagher (2020), LB, Traverse City West (2nd team)

Gabe Whitmore (2020), DB, Petoskey (2nd team)

Patrick O’Connor (2021), DB, Traverse City West (2nd team)

Anakin Sims (2020), QB, Alpena (HM)

Blake Swiger (2022), OL, Cadillac (HM)

Carson Briggs (2021), OL, Traverse City Central (HM)

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Defending the title: Traverse City West (7-3, 5-0 BNC) — The two-time defending BNC champs, the Titans return eight starters on offense and six on defense, but will have to work in a new signal-caller, with Andy Soma — who didn’t play as a junior — looking to take over under center from three-year starting quarterback Sam DeKuiper. He’ll have weapons in junior back Christian Boivin and wideouts Aiden Griggs, Josh Tanis and Jake Klassen, and tight end Zac Tokie. Second-year head coach Greg Vaughn has six returning starters on a defense that gave up 106 points on the season, and 36 in five conference games, but will have to replace all-state linebacker Odin Sofferdine. 

The challenger: Traverse City Central (7-3, 4-1 BNC) — The Trojans graduated a ton from last year’s second-place team in the BNC — including all-state lineman Jack Sherwin and quarterback Tobin Schwannecke — but they do have some star power. All-state wideout Trey Searles will be catching passes this season from Peyton Smith, a transfer from Ithaca whose older brothers (Jake and 2013 STATE CHAMPS! Mr. Football winner Travis) also quarterbacked the Yellowjackets. 

Dark horse: Petoskey (5-5, 3-2 BNC) — Gavin Fralick was elevated from within, the longtime defensive coordinator for the Northmen replacing VanOrman, and becoming Petoskey’s fourth different head coach in nearly 60 seasons. Fralick returns the majority of a defense that allowed just 19.6 points per game last season, and has dual-threat quarterback Gabe Whitmore at quarterback, while all-state kicker Kaleb Kindsvatter will be running the ball more this year, behind a line that returns just one starter.

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Picks: 1 Traverse City Central (7-3, 4-1 BNC), 2 Traverse City West (7-3, 5-0 BNC), 3 Petoskey (5-5, 3-2 BNC), 4 Gaylord (6-4, 2-3 BNC), 5 Cadillac (1-8, 1-4 BNC), 6 Alpena (3-6, 0-5 BNC).*

*— results of the BNC writer’s poll (courtesy of the Petoskey News Review) 

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Graduated all-state players

Jack Sherwin, DL, Traverse City Central (MHSFCA Dream Team, AP Division 1-2 all-state HM)

Tobin Schwannecke, QB, Traverse City Central (AP Division 1-2 all-state HM)

Logan Guthrie, RB, Alpena (AP Division 1-2 all-state HM)

Odin Sofferdine, LB, Traverse City West (AP Division 1-2 all-state HM)