Coyotes, Warriors set to battle

Reed City looking to remain unbeaten on road trip to Chippewa Hills

REMUS — It's been business as usual for the Reed City football team this season as the Coyotes sit at 5-0 at the top of the Central State Activities Association (CSAA) as they head into Friday's game at 3-2 Chippewa Hills. With the Coyotes more than halfway to a third-straight 9-0 regular season, the Warriors know they're going to have a fight on their hands come Friday, which is why Chippewa Hills coach Larry Jose said it's vital for the Warriors to get off to a hot start Friday night in front of their home crowd. "Our kids aren't stupid," he said. "They know the records and they know what their recent history is. The one thing we focus on is establishing ourselves on the first series and that's what we're going to have to do against Reed City. "You can watch all the tape you want but when you get in front of a guy, then you find out what kind of player he is," he added. Jose said with a team like Reed City, the blueprint for having a shot a victory comes down to taking care of the football and keeping the Coyotes' explosive offense off the field. "I think the key to making sure it's a game against them is making sure it's still a game in the fourth quarter," Jose said. "If you can not turn the ball over and keep their offense off the field, you can give yourself a chance late in the game. But it's one thing to say it and another thing to do it against a team like that." The Warriors head into the game with confidence growing in their rushing attack after piling up 332 yards in a win against Big Rapids last week and Jose said he's hoping for that to carry into Friday's matchup. "I think the number one thing that's been allowing us to run better is our offensive line," Jose said. "When the running backs know they're going to have holes open to run through, they run a little harder. Success builds confidence." When the Warriors' defense is on the field against the Coyotes, Jose said while teams could just key on the Reed City running game in the past, the passing attack Reed City has unleashed this season makes it even tougher to stop them offensively. "The problem is they give you more gaps than you can cover," Jose said. "You used to have to worry about stopping their inside running game and making sure they didn't get outside on the edges. Now, they've added that third dimension with the passing game that they almost force you to play man-to-man on the outside because of the balance they have." Reed City coach Monty Price said Friday's matchup is like any other week in the CSAA, with the game against the Warriors serving as another tough test for his team. "I think they're a very well coached team and they are a hard-nosed, physical type of team," Price said. "I think it's going to be a great night of football. Going to Chippewa Hills is never an easy task." Price said one of the areas he expects the Warriors to be especially physical in is their offensive line play. "I'm pretty sure they're the largest offensive line that we're going to face so far this season," he said. "They are very good and they get great vertical push. They're a very physical group." No matter who the opponent is every week, Price said he trusts his defense to come away with a big play just like the Coyotes have done all season. "I think our defense has shown great resiliency every week," he said. "They're not afraid to take some chances in between the 20s. They know first downs don't count as scores and that's the approach they take every game. They've made big plays when we've needed them and they'll continue to do that." While the Coyotes have been enjoying a nice balance between the pass and the run this season, Price said the Coyotes will have to worry about the young, athletic linebackers the Warriors have on their roster. "I think they have one of the best linebacking groups in the league," he said. "I think (Marcus Merrill) is one heck of a player and they have plenty of other guys who are tackling machines. We'll have a tough assignment on our hands with those guys." Friday's game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. kickoff at Chippewa Hills High School.