Familar foe awaits Coyotes

ON THE RUN: Reed City quarterback Chad Samuels (3) will look to lead his team to victory against Manistee tonight. (Pioneer file photo)
ON THE RUN: Reed City quarterback Chad Samuels (3) will look to lead his team to victory against Manistee tonight. (Pioneer file photo)

Reed City, Manistee set to renew nonconference rivalry in postseason

REED CITY — There should not be too many secrets between Manistee and Reed City. The two football teams used to battle nearly every year since Coyotes coach Monty Price took over the program in the 1990s. All of which means their first-round playoff game will come down to execution. “We have to be disciplined with our reads and disciplined with our assignments,” Price said. “But it all comes down to execution, on defense we have to be sharp.” Manistee will come to Reed City tonight with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m. for the Division 5 contest. The Coyotes are fresh off their second straight 9-0 season and champions of the Central State Activities Association. The Chippewas are 6-3 on the season. Earning a second straight undefeated season was not a complete surprise to Price. He saw a team that was hungry not only to go 9-0, but to do better than a team that reached the second-round of the playoffs before falling to Grand Rapids West Catholic. “We have a great group of kids who work extremely hard, who have bought into our system and everything we preach and every single day commit to excellence,” Price said. The commitment to excellence had led the Coyotes to a 9-0 mark and the right to host Friday’s contest. As the No. 1 seed in the district that also includes Newaygo and Grant, the bullseye is squarely on Reed City. Price believes his team will rise to the occasion. “Being home is huge,” he said. “That is why we play the regular season. Obviously, our first goal is to qualify (for the playoffs) and second is to host and have the opportunity to play in front of our own community is a huge bonus in my opinion. “I think it is harder to be on top,” Price continued. “But at this time of the year, everyone wants to take you down — we have to play well.” The Chippewas clinched their first back-to-back playoff appearances in program history with a 44-6 win against Benzie Central last week. The opportunity to play a team they’re familiar with is exciting to senior Mason Swidorski. “I think it was great to see a team that we’ve played before and know stuff about,” he said. “It’s better than playing a team you know nothing about and you don’t know anything going into the game.” The biggest area where Price believes his team has to play well is on defense. Manistee will run the T-formation and the single-wing. It is all about executing. “Who can establish the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, the team that gets the more vertical push is going to have the advantage,” Price said. “Turnovers also are going to be key, or the lack of turnovers, that will be huge.”
 Manistee News Advocate Sports Editor Matt Wenzel contributed to this story