Evart, Pine River face unique football challenges this week

TURNOVER: Larry VanBuren (52) grabs the loose football after a punt attempt by Pine River. (Herald Review photo/John Raffel)
TURNOVER: Larry VanBuren (52) grabs the loose football after a punt attempt by Pine River. (Herald Review photo/John Raffel)

Fortunes have struck Evart and Pine River in different ways this season.

But both will be looking to enter the final four weeks of the regular season with a victory Friday night in Highland Conference action.

Evart, 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the league, is home against McBain while Pine River, 1-4 travels to Manton.

Evart is coming off a 49-14 win over Pine River last Friday and will bid to continue its drive toward a winning record and playoff spot which is automatically rewarded to teams with six wins.

“They are certainly big and strong and will look to run the ball,” Evart coach Pat Craven said of the Ramblers, who lost last week to McBain. “They have some talented guys up front. We’ll have to make sure we find ways to attack the line of scrimmage.”

Craven said McBain’s loss to Lake City indicates how tough the Trojans will be. Evart is at Lake City for week 7.

“Lake City right now is probably the team to beat in the league, but it doesn’t make McBain any less of a team,” Craven said. “They’re both good football teams. We’ll need to play one of our better games to have a chance to beat them.”

Craven said McBain will have different strengths than Beal City, which defeated Evart earlier this season.

“McBain’s strengths are their guys up front,” Craven said. “It’s a different match up. We’ll have to make sure we have a good game plan going in to work against their offensive and defensive lines.”

Pine River is 0-3 in the league and will bid for conference victory No. 1 at Manton.

“They don’t have lot of numbers and have had injuries problems, kind of like us,” said Pine River coach Chad Phillips. “They always play hard and it’s their homecoming.”

Phillips said the Bucks will be going for the rest of the season without junior quarterback Skyler Nelson, who left late in the first half against Evart with a shoulder injury, which has now been diagnosed as a broken left collarbone.

He was slated for surgery Tuesday.

“He got sacked and landed on that shoulder,” Phillips said.

Nelson threw for two touchdowns against Evart prior to his injury. Dakota Wierczorek, a running back, will take over at QB.

“We worked a lot on that today trying to get him comfortable and learn more of the plays,” Phillips said after a Monday practice. “We don’t have anybody on our team that’s ever started at quarterback before. It’s definitely going to feature different parts of our offense. Our passing game had been one of our stronger parts.”