Bucks football team relying on key seniors

LEROY — Two key seniors expect to boost Pine River’s hopes of being a playoff team this season are Luis Rodriguez and Derrick Waldfogel.

Rodriguez will play wide receiver and cornerback for the Bucks.

Rodriguez is heading into his second varsity season and expects to see more playing time this year.

“I’ve been exercising a lot, working out and getting ready for being back on the field,” he said, adding that catching passes will be his main role. “I have the speed, I’m still working on the hands.”

He’ll also be doing plenty of hitting when the Bucks put the ball on the ground, which Rodriguez estimates will be 60 percent of the time.

He’ll be a cornerback defensively and sometimes at safety.

“We’ve been taught to watch the quarterback and make sure you know what you’re doing,” Rodriguez said.

Waldfogel will play nose tackle and tight end for the Bucks. This will mark his third year on the varsity.

“The team, I thought we did pretty good as a group,” Waldfogel said of the 3-6 Bucks. “We had a lot of confidence in each other. Other than the scores being low and not having a winning record, I think we did pretty good.”

As a nose tackle, Waldfogel will be expected to plug up the middle and get plenty of tackles.

“I need to plug up the center, hit him hard, disrupt the backfield, stuff like that,” he said. “I’m quick off the ball.”

Waldfogel is ready to catch the ball whenever quarterback Skyler Nelson throws it.

“We look stronger than last year,” Waldfogel said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we go 6-3.”

Six wins automatically sends a team to the playoffs.

“The past two years, we were 1-8 and then 3-6,” he said. “We should go 6-3 if we keep moving up.”

“I have high expectations,” Rodriguez said. “We should be able to make it. We have a lot of pride. If we can work together we can make it.”

The Bucks will scrimmage 5 p.m. Friday at Mason County Central, They open the season Aug. 26 at Kalkaska.

At the scrimmage, the Bucks, will see MCC, Big Rapids and Manistee. All those schools have a bigger enrollment from Pine River.

“We got a lot of progress done (last week),” said Pine River coach Chad Phillips. “We have a good portion of our offense and defense in. We’ll be all go at the scrimmage. We had an intrasquad on scrimmage, saw a lot of good things and also things that we have to work on.

“We have to get more consistent line play, that’s going to be the challenge. We had pretty good play out of our running backs.. We struggled a little bit throwing a wet football so we’ll work on that this week.”

Phillips will pay close attention to how his players perform at the scrimmage.

“I tell them we’ll decide who starts when we see how they do against other teams,” he said. “It will be definitely important for our guys to compete if they want to earn a starting spot.”