Coyotes, Wildcats celebrate banner football seasons

Losing the final game of the season is never fun for a football team. Yet, Reed City and Evart football squads endured what was another memorable season.

The Coyotes went 9-0 for the second straight season and won the Central State Activities Association title. A 30-29 loss to Newaygo ended the team’s hopes of making the third round of the playoffs. The Coyotes ended at 10-1.

“We had an outstanding group of kids who had an outstanding year,” said Reed City coach Monty Price. “I’m very proud of them, conference champions, undefeated, second round of the playoffs, unfortunately we lost a heartbreaker. But it was still very successful when you look at the whole body of work.”

Newaygo “made some big plays and we didn’t,” Price said. “I can think of six plays that were the ballgame and those six plays went Newaygo’s way. Sometimes, the bounce of the ball, the luck on the field, call it what you want, but they made the plays and we didn’t. It’s a game of inches and it cost us.”

Evart ended up 8-3 after a 1-1 regular season. The Wildcats posted the school’s first ever playoff win, 16-12 over Carson City-Crystal and lost to Lake City 48-7 in the regional finals. It was the most wins since 2007 when Evart was 8-1, won the league and lost in the first round of the playoffs to Montague.

“People were excited and I think they understood we could have a really solid year,” said Wildcat coach Pat Craven “These kids haven’t played together much, this junior-senior class, because we’ve had kids split. I feel our coaching staff thought we could be very successsful. The kids did too. They played tremendously as a team, pulled together and played for each other and did a nice job.

“I thought we would have the talent to compete for a league championship, make the playoffs and potentially do some damage when we got in. I thought we were right where we needed to be. A couple of breaks here or there, things may have happened differently.”

The ratio of players lost and players returning will be about half-and-half, Craven indicated.

“We’ve had some solid classes the last few years as far as numbers,” Craven said. “We’ll have a good mix. We lose some key players on both sides of the ball. We’ll have some places where kids will have to step up and work hard in the offseason to fill those roles. If we want to continue to compete for conference championships and playoff appearances and playoff wins, our kids have to understand the importance of working in the weightroom and doing things necessary to make things better. I think we have the talent to continue on that path. We have to stress the importance of getting faster and stronger. If you don’t have a solid offensive or defensive line, you’re in trouble, no matter how good your skilled kids are.”