Coyotes set for season football opener against Big Rapids

OPENER: Pine River football players work on a running play Monday. (Herald Review/John Raffel)
OPENER: Pine River football players work on a running play Monday. (Herald Review/John Raffel)

REED CITY — Area football teams hope they enter the holiday weekend enjoying the fruits of their labors after their season opening games on Thursday.

Reed City is home against Big Rapids in Central State Activities Association play while Evart is at Suttons Bay and Pine River at Kalkaska in non-league games.

It’s rare that teams open on Labor Day weekend, which usually features a Thursday game. This season, the 14-week high school football season with nine weeks in the regular season and five in the playoffs, needs to start this particular time in order to end up with the state finals on Thanksgiving weekend.

REED CITY

The Coyotes are coming off two straight 9-0 regular seasons and CSAA titles. Their big rivalry against Big Rapids opens the regular season.

Reed City is coming off a scrimmage last Thursday at Muskegon.

“I think we have a little bit of work to do,” said Reed City coach Monty Price. “I think it was kind of a status quo scrimmage for us. We did a lot of things well. And there are things we have to improve on.

“I’m not displeased and I’m not overly happy,” he added. “But I think we’re on track and on pace for where we want to be. We have work to do. The biggest thing we need to work on is tackling. I wasn’t real content with our tackling fundamentals. We have to brush up on our execution, especially at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.”

While Chad Samuels will be at quarterback, Price said the running back spots would be determined in practices this week.

“We have some kids battling it out,” Price said.

Reed City faces a Big Rapids team that was 8-2 last season.

“Both teams will be extremely motivated,” Price said. “We have to control our motivation and have to play a controlled, disciplined style of football and we have to compete. We have to remain focused. It’s a huge week for both schools. Every kid involved in this game and every community member involved in this game is going to be fired up.

“We want to try to contain our emotions and keep our focus at a high level and go out and compete very hard.”

EVART

The Wildcats were 8-3 last season, losing only to state powers Beal City and Lake City (twice), They will try to open victoriously Thursday on the road.

Evart scrimmaged Thursday at Tawas.

“I was overall pleased,” said Evart coach Pat Craven. “I thought our kids played hard. We identified a lot of things we have to get better at. We have to continue get better in all areas of technique. Fundamentally speaking, we all have to fine-tune and get better and work on the small things.”

Evart scouted Suttons Bay on Thursday.

“They have a couple of dangerous players that we’ll have to take care of,” Craven said. “We’ll have to play disciplined football and put our best foot forward Thursday night.”

PINE RIVER

The Terry Martin era opens Thursday when the new Pine River coach takes his team to Kalkaska to open the season.

Martin felt his team had a fair amount of success last Friday in its scrimmage at Mancelona.

“There were bright spots to take away from it but we identified some things to improve on,” Martin said. “Our option, the overall timing of it, with handoffs, pitches and reads, that part of it was better than I anticipated.”

Martin noted that Kalkaska is coming off a playoff season.

“I think they’re going to be a pretty good football team,” he said. “They have a lot of experience. Their quarterback is a three-year starter and their running back a four-year starter.”