EagleHerald/Billy Betts
Stephenson’s Jesus Becerra breaks a Cedarville tackle attempt during last week’s playoff win. The Eagles will head downstate for Saturday’s 2 p.m. state semifinal.
EagleHerald/Billy Betts
Stephenson’s Jesus Becerra breaks a Cedarville tackle attempt during last week’s playoff win. The Eagles will head downstate for Saturday’s 2 p.m. state semifinal.

STEPHENSON — The Stephenson football team will have its hands full with undefeated Central Lake in an MHSAA 8-man Division 1 semifinal Saturday.

“The kids are excited,” Stephenson coach Logan Carlson said. “It just feels like we’re at another level in practice right now.”

The Eagles (9-2) will have to hit the road to take on the 11-0 Trojans. The game kicks off at 2 p.m. CST. 

Last week, Stephenson held off Cedarville 30-24 from the Bridge Alliance Conference.

Montell Glover rushed for 270 yards, but it came down to a defensive stand for the Eagles.

Central Lake thumped Sutton Bay 58-26 to advance to Saturday’s semifinal.

Stephenson is wading into the unknown with Central Lake. The teams have never met and don’t have any common opponents. Carlson said they actually have more tape than usual though.

“We were able to get a few films from opposing coaches,” he said. 

Carlson said the film shows a pretty polished team.

 “They look very put-together,” he said. “They don’t make a lot of mistakes.”

The Trojans are primarily a running team, but when they throw they’re efficient, according to Carlson.

“When they pass they’re all long passes,” he said, “and they complete a lot of them.”

Central Lake’s running game is multifaceted as well, and the Trojans average more than 53 points per game in the wide-open 8-man format.

“It’s tough to defend, because they have three 1,000-yard rushers,” Carlson said.

Central Lake was a 2-7 team playing 11-man football last season, but the Trojans have yet to play a game closer than 12 points this year.

“It’s their first year, and the first year for a few teams in their conference playing 8-man,” Carlson said, “But on film they look disciplined.”

The Eagles played the year in the Western U.P. Eight, one of the toughest 8-man conferences in the state.

“I feel that, even as good as they look, they haven’t played the competition we have,” Carlson said.

Stephenson will get back defensive back and receiver Alex Hanson, who missed last week’s game with an injury.

“It will be good to have him back,” Carlson said. “Especially to open up our passing game on offense.”