HOUGHTON - A goal that appeared unattainable early in the season is now within reach for the Houghton High football team.
After mowing down down the Baraga Vikings Friday night at Alumni Field by a 35-8 score, the Orange and Black can assure themselves of a spot in the playoffs if they can defeat archrival Hancock next Friday night.
"We're not too worried about that (playoffs)," HHS coach Karl Borree commented afterward. "At this point, we're just happy to get a win tonight for our seniors. We'll see what happens after that."
Houghton’s Ben Collaer runs from Baraga players during a fumble return for a touchdown Friday at Alumni?Field in Houghton. (DMG photo by David Archambeau)
The Orange and Black, now 5-3 on the season, pounced on Baraga mistakes to mount a 29-0 halftime lead on Senior Night.
The first Viking miscue was a big one as they lost a fumble that was picked up by Houghton's Ben Collaer and returned 75 yards for a score late in the first quarter.
"I won't say that play (Collaer TD) wasn't a big one," Baraga skipper Eric DeMink said. "We were moving the football pretty well, but that switched the momentum around completely."
Collaer, who had a big night in basically one half of action, tacked on the two-point PAT for an 8-0 lead.
The eventual winners scored 21 points in the second period, taking advantage of two Viking fumbles and a pass interception by Collaer.
A 60-yard scoring run by Thomas Schmidt started the second-quarter point barrage and made for a 14-0 lead.
Collaer found Sam Bethancourt with a 16-yard scoring strike after a BHS fumble, with Schmidt adding the PAT run to make it 22-0.
The Houghton margin moved to 29-0 after a 16-yard run by Jonathan Bostwick and an extra point kick.
With freshman Sam Collaer at quarterback in the second half, the Gremlins were content to stay on the ground.
Sam Collaer did add a 6-yard touchdown run late in the third frame for a 35-0 reading.
The Purple and Gold got on the scoreboard late in the game when senior lineman Nate Stockton rumbled in from two yards away. Dillon Hueckstaedt passed to Corbin Crittenden for the two-pointer.
Borree commended Ben Collaer for a "nice all-around game." The junior signalcaller picked up a game-high 118 yards in 12 carries and also tossed a TD pass.
Schmidt was next with 78 yards rushing and Bostwick added 43 more.
Hueckstaedt had a huge night on both sides of the ball for the 0-8 Vikings. In addition to rushing for 82 yards in 15 carries, he recorded 23 tackles.
"Dillon Huecksteadt played an amazing game tonight," DeMink said. "He was all over the field."
Borree said the hustle of the Vikings impressed him.
"They ran some nice plays on offense and they played hard," he said. "They're improving."
As far as the game at Hancock next Friday, Borree said his team will point at that and only at that.
"Beating Hancock is always important for us," he said. "The rest (playoffs) of it I just don't know."
Baraga goes to Ontonagon in search of that elusive first victory next Friday.