Early mistakes costly for Pine River in season-opening loss to Kalkaska

Coach: Pine River football coach Terry Martin (left) and his Pine River Bucks are preparing for Benzie Central Friday night. (File photo)
Coach: Pine River football coach Terry Martin (left) and his Pine River Bucks are preparing for Benzie Central Friday night. (File photo)

LEROY  — Pine River opens its home schedule against Benzie Central on Friday with hopes of gaining that first win of the football season.

Pine River could not overcome early mistakes and lost the season opener to Kalkaska 28-14 last Thursday.

Brandon Fulks led all rushers with 103 yards on the ground, while quarterback Skyler Nelson added 142 through the air.

It was the debut for Bucks coach Terry Martin.

“Overall, it was not terrible,” he said. “We had in the first half a couple of breakdowns in pass coverages that cost us big plays. Our defense played fairly solid throughout the game but had three breakdowns in pass coverage that cost us 40-yard touchdowns each.”

The defense had a well balanced group of tacklers led by Kyle Nixon and Tyler McCurry who both recorded eight stops.

“In the third quarter, we had a goal-line stand out of our defense,” Martin said. “On the very next play we miscommunicated somehow and ended up with a fumble in the end zone that they jumped on.

“It was big mistakes that led to their touchdowns We couldn’t seem to get our offense going. We couldn’t contInue or maintain a drive. We’d get a couple of first downs but not enough to get all the way down the field, it seemed like.”

Pine River (0-1) will host Benzie Central in another non-league game this week. Both teams have the same type of offense.

“Their offense is complelely brand new,” Martin said. “They’re going to run the option this year as well. They played Mason County Central in a real close game, 16-0 (Benzie loss). I thought their defense played pretty well in that game, especially. As a result, our offense struggled and their defense performed well. It will be a big key for us, getting our offense going against their defense.”

Martin has 18 players on the varsity right now and almost all are playing both ways. Martin said about eight or nine start both ways. Last Thursday’s game was a test for the players considering it was warm.

“We struggled with fatigue a little bit,” Martin said. “We’re getting there. We’ve been talking a long time, getting prepared for that. We had a couple of kids that probably came off for three plays the whole game. We definitely had some kids pull their own weight, and then some, especially our linemen. We’re thin on the line. Having those guys going back and forth from offense to defense, by the end of the game, they were definitely fatigued.”

Pioneer sports editor Martin Slagter also contributed to this story.