LEROY -- Pine River is small in numbers this season but is hoping for large contributions from the likes of Brandon Fulks and Clay Stokes.

Fulks is a sophomore corner back and running back for the Bucks. He starts on defense. But also came up big on offense in Friday’s 35-14 win over Benzie Central with 14 carries for 141 yards.

He’s successfully made the transition from JV to varsity in a hurry, especially the physical aspect. He’s been focusing on pass coverage and has had success in that respect.

“Denying the receiver the ball,” has been among his main strengths and he’s confident in his tacking ability. Quickness is a strength when he runs the ball.

“I think we’ll have more wins than last season,” Fulks said. “We have to play better defense.”

Stokes is a senior who plays linebacker and left guard. It’s his second season of varsity.

“We did pretty good,” Stokes said, referring to last season. “I did all right defensively. We had pretty good defense.”

He’s starting both ways this season. He’s been picking up a lot of tackles defensively. He’s been getting off his feet well defensively.

In the opener against Kalkaska, the Bucks struggled, Stokes indicated, but they came back strong in a win over Benzie. Stokes had 15 tackles against Benzie.

“We need to be able to stop the run and pass,” he said.

Playing both ways on a team with less than 20 players, especially when it’s hot, puts the pressure on, Stokes acknowledged.

“It gets tiring especially (against Kalkaska),” he said. “We have to stay hydrated and practice run a lot.”