REED CITY — It wasn’t easy getting to 5-0 and it won’t be any easier this week for the Reed City Coyotes

But after a hard fought 34-30 Central State Activities Association victory on Friday, Reed City is still perfect with five league wins and will attempt to stay undefeated on Friday at Manistee against the Chippewas in the only nonleague game of the season.

“It was a huge win for us especially under the circumstances of how we played,” said Reed City coach Monty Price. “We didn’t play the way I wanted to the first half. The kids really responded at halftime and came out well enough to get the job done.”

The Coyotes bounced back from a 20-8 deficit to the Hornets to pull out the win. They netted 26 unanswered points to build a 34-20 lead and hold off the host team.

“We didn’t come out hard in the first half and we needed to step it up,” said Vincent, a starting linebacker for Reed City. “We came out and ran a few different plays and changed our offense a bit.”

The ground game for Reed City clicked in high style with 366 yards on 54 attempts. Nate Kailing had a big night with 185 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Chad Samuels also had a pair of scores.

Garrett Benson added 63 yards on 10 tries while Trent Sims picked up 59 yards on 18 attempts.

“This says a lot about the resiliency of our kids,” Price said.

It was all running game for Reed City. The Coyotes were led defensively by Sims who had nine tackles, plus a sack. Dakota Gogolowski was credited with seven tackles while Vincent had six.

The Coyotes can catch an automatic playoff spot with a win on Friday.

“We’re keeping our intensity up,” Vincent said. “We have to come out harder in the first half. Teams would come out and kick our butt in the first half and in the second half, then we would come out like we should have in the first half.”

It will be critical, Vincent and Price said, to come out strong against the Chippewas on Saturday.

“They’re a tough team and run about the same offense as us,” Price said. “We know how to control their offense. But we have to come out tough against them.”

It will be Reed City’s only nonleague game of the season. With Newaygo joining the CSAA next year, all regular season games will count in the conference.

After the Manistee game, the Coyotes can resume their chase of the CSAA title.

“To be honest with you, we’re not looking past Manistee at this point,” Price said. “We have a tough one this Friday against a 4-1 Manistee team. They’re playing very good football right now. We’re trying to put all our focus and efforts on Manistee.”

What’s at stake, along with a win, is a chance to remain undefeated and also to be sitting in a good spot come playoff time.

“They’re 4-1 and playing solid football and most likely a playoff qualifying candidate,” Price said. “We feel this is a huge test for us and will obviously give us a lot of playoff points should we get the W. This is big game for us and we’ll focus solely on what we have to do to be successful against them.”

Price said the Chippewas run a similar offense to Reed City.

“It’s going to be like looking in a mirror,” Price said. “We’ll have to be very disciplined in our defensive execution. We’ll have to execute well on offense as well.”

Beating a tough team like Central on the road could prove to be a confidence booster for RC.

“That week is over and we’re going to Manistee,” Price said. “It’s a different place and will be a different atmosphere and environment.”

“We have to come out strong in the first half and show them we’re the better team,” Vincent said.

Vincent also punts and plays on kickoffs and kickoff returns and plays on the offensive line. It’s his first varsity season.

“I think I caught on pretty good right away,”’ he said. “But it’s a lot more intensity than on JVs. The line is supposed to blow their offensive line up and I’m there to make the tackles. I’m pretty good in getting to the ball fast.”