SSC bows out of playoffs with a loss at Grayling
GRAYLING — The Standish-Sterling Central Panthers went into Grayling with high hopes of winning their first-round playoff matchup.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, Grayling had another idea.
Although SSC shut out the Vikings in the second half, Grayling was able to score 31 first-half points and keep the Panthers from scoring the entire game, with the final score ending up 31-0.
“We had three or four opportunities to score,” head coach Paul Walderzak said. “We just did not get it done. Grayling’s defense was good, but part of it was our fault.”
Walderzak said that his team moved the ball well at times, and the Panther defense was strong in the second half.
“We did not play well enough to win,” he said.
Although the Panthers won the turnover battle 3-1, their offense was unable to turn those turnovers into points.
Walderzak was quick to praise Grayling.
“They (Grayling) have a very good offense,” he said. “They have size and speed, and did a good job stopping us.”
Despite the loss, Walderzak said he is proud of the way his team played this season.
“I am not satisfied with the way our season ended,” he said. “I am proud of the team. We had a successful season.”
Walderzak said the Panthers’ seniors performed well throughout their careers.
“This season, they performed well for us,” he said. “I feel good about what they have done. They are a great bunch of kids. They came to work every day, I love what they gave.”
Walderzak said the future looks bright for SSC, after watching the younger players grow during the season.
“We started out this season with a lot of juniors and a couple of seniors who did not have a lot of playing time,” he said. “Our team did a lot of growing up this season. The seniors did a great job, and the juniors stepped up and became varsity players.”
Walderzak said he saw improvement with the entire SSC football program.
“The (junior varsity) team had a good season,” he said. “We have a lot of good players, but we have a lot of good people here too.”
The Panthers will have 11 starters returning next season, four on offense and seven on defense. As SSC continues to search for a conference for next season, Walderzak said with the group he has returning, he feels confident they will be successful no matter what.
“I really like what I see with our younger guys,” he said. “We still don’t know where we are at, but we would be happy to get into a conference.”
Leading the way for the Panthers in the loss were Garrett Pierce, who ran the ball 18 times for 111 yards, and Ryan Whitman, who had six completions for 44 yards passing. On defense, Tanner Mitrzyk had five tackles to go along with a fumble recovery and an interception. Zac Nead recorded 12 tackles. Channing Spencer forced a fumble and recovered it, and also had one interception. Cole Walderzak had four tackles and an interception. Alex Hill had five tackles.