Former Coyotes recall past perfect seasons
REED CITY — When Reed City’s football team plays at Lakeview Friday night and goes for a 9-0 record, the Coyotes will try to finish off something in the regular season that available records indicate hasn’t happened since the 1960s.
George Vasicek was an all-state running back for the 1966 Coyote team that finished 8-0. He coached the Coyotes in the 1980s for football and also was the baseball skipper for many years.
They didn’t have the playoffs back, then Vasicek noted. The state didn’t start playoffs until 1975 and didn’t adjust to its current format, with teams that win six games or more getting in, until 1999. He still lives in the area. As a player, Vasicek was in the backfield both ways.
Many players earned all-conference honors The Coyotes were back in the U.S. 10 Conference which included teams like Coleman, Meridian, Clare and Evart. Big Rapids was an independent at that time.
Big Rapids was also the only team to score against Reed City all season with one touchdown.
The closest game, Vasicek recalled, was a 6-0 win over Clare.
“We scored on a quarterback sneak,” Vasicek said. “Clare was ranked high that year.”
There was an easy reason to explain the Coyotes’ success.
“We had a bunch of real good athletes,” Vasicek said. “It was a good group of athletes. We were good at every position.”
The field was in the same location as it is now. Vasicek recalls the last game of the undefeated season against Evart. Because there were no playoffs in the 1960s, the regular season would start in early September and end in early or mid-November. The night before the game, there was heavy snowfall and a foot of snow rested on the field. Vasicek recalls there was talk of canceling the game. Instead, various interested individuals got together to clean the field and have the game played on Saturday afternoon.
Had there been playoffs that season, “I think we would have done well,” Vasicek. “I don’t know if we would have gone all the way.”
The previous season, Reed City was 6-2 when Vasicek was a junior, losing to Edmore and to Hart.
Vasicek has watched some games this season for the Coyotes and coach Monty Price.
“They’re having a good year, Monty has done a good job,” Vasicek said. “I hope they go far.”
Pat Kailing was defensive tackle on the 1966 team. He also played the following year when Reed City was 6-2. He added that the 1968 teams was 7-0-1.
“We had a lot of good athletes, not just one or two,” Kailing said. “It was a class that had a lot of talent. We had good team speed. That was one of the biggest things. Reed City has usually not been big. But that team had a lot of speed.”
Dave Goodell was the head coach while Greg Hornbaker was the assistant.
Kailing’s cousin Nate is a running back on the current Coyote team.
Kailing notes that with his cousin Nate, Trenton Sims and others, the 2011 Coyote team has depth in the backfield. Such was the case in 1966, Pat recalled, with the likes of Vasiciek averaging 10 yards per carry and others in the lineup averaging six or seven yards a try.