Coyotes add Baldwin for new opponent in football opener

REED CITY — Reed City’s football team will bid for its fourth straight 9-0 regular season in 2014. But the schedule will take on a new look including a unique opener for the next two years.

The Coyotes will have five new opponents in the 2014 season including two new faces in the Central State Activities Association (CSAA). While the old 10-team format had nine league games locked in, the new format of a Gold Division, which includes Reed City and six other teams, plus the Silver Division, which has six schools, will mean six Coyote opponents.

Meanwhile, Reed City and Baldwin have entered a two-year deal for the two schools to play each other in football for the season opener in 2014 and 2015. The game will be in Reed City this year and in Baldwin 2015.

The Coyotes will play the six teams in the Gold Division including four current league foes in Big Rapids, Central Montcalm, Chippewa Hills and Newaygo. The other two squads are new to the CSAA and will be in the Gold Division: Grant and Tri County. Five other opponents the Coyotes played last season — Hesperia, Holton, Lakeview, Morley Stanwood and White Cloud — are joined by league newcomer Kent City in the Silver Division. The Coyotes won’t play any of those opponents in football.

That left three dates—the first, fourth and ninth — open on the Coyote schedule. While Baldwin is the first non-league opponent, the next two will be Grandville Calvin Christian and Schoolcraft. Calvin Christian will be at Reed City this season while Schoolcraft is on the road.

“We feel pretty good about beefing up our schedule,” said Reed City football coach Monty Price. “All three of our non-league opponents are playoff teams. Schoolcraft has a rich tradition and has been successful for many, many years. Grandville Calvin Christian and Baldwin in recent years have both been playoff programs. We feel good about our schedule and the challenges it will present us and the quality of opponents we’ve been able to lock in for our non-league dates.”

Price said it was “extremely difficult” to find opponents for the three open dates.

“It turned out that weeks one and nine were our toughest,” Price said. “I thought while looking at week 4, we would never fill it. By the grace of God, we filled it almost immediately. I thought one and nine would be a little easier because most school’s open dates are one and nine. But we ran into a buzzsaw in trying to get teams to commit to us and were close. We were willing to travel anywhere and we had a lot of schools just not comfortable playing us.”

Schoolcraft is south of Kalamazoo.

“When you look at our options, which were none, we took it,” Price said. “We want our kids playing rather than going to an eight-game schedule.”

While the Coyotes have competed in Division 5 in football, Baldwin is in Division 8 and considerably smaller in size to Reed City. The fact that Baldwin has upgraded its football program considerably in recent years was attractive to Price.

“We’re very comfortable with it,” Price said. “I talked with coach (Doug) Bolles at Baldwin. He contacted us and said they had week one open. I spoke with him. I think they have some great things going on. They’ve been in the playoffs at 7-2 the last two years. They’re a Class D school, so there’s a little hesitation in terms of (computer playoff) points in that regard. But since they’ve been so successful and are thinking they’ll be even better this year, we’re confident that either way it goes, it will be a benefit for both teams especially since we’re so close and may be able to establish a little bit of a rivalry.”

“They’ve built a great program and they’re a state contender. That will be a great challenge for our program,” said Baldwin athletic director Shawn Williams. “It’s pretty tough. We’re Class D. We have a lot of athletes. A lot of the Class D area schools here don’t have football. A lot of Class C schools don’t want to play us. Sometimes we have to go outside our area and take challenges like Reed City.”

“I’m excited about it, real exited,” said Bolles. “I was a little skeptical at first, being Reed City is Division 5 and us a Division 8. The next couple of years will probably be the two best teams in the 10 years I’ve been here. The distance, it’s a little local rivalry. I’m excited about it just to see where we’re at.”

Big Rapids had been Reed City’s opener. The Coyotes will be playing the Cardinals in CSAA action on week six.

Baldwin isn’t sure if it will field a JV team but the Coyotes have scheduled a game for opening week against Beal City on the road. The other opponents have JV teams. Because of the distances, the Calvin Christian and Schoolcraft JV games will be played 4 p.m. on Friday prior to the varsity. The other games will have the usual Thursday-Friday format.