Kickoff return sets tone in Pine River victory


LEROY — Brandon Fulks returned the opening kickoff 77 yards for a touchdown and ran for two other scores to lift the Pine River Bucks to a 39-6 victory over nonleague foe Kalkaska in the season opener for both teams Thursday night.

Quarterback Mason Powell completed three passes for 28 yards and ran nine times for 83 yards.

Fulks also had 84 rushing yards for the Bucks, who led 33-6 at halftime.

“Obviously I thought it was a great performance, a really good way to start the year,” Pine River coach Terry Martin said. “Brandon Fulks really started us. The (kickoff return) kind of set our pace. He had a good first quarter after that.”

Fulks had an 8-yard running touchdown and Jeff Gross a 1-yard scoring plunge in the first quarter, which ended in a 19-9 Bucks lead. Mitch McDonald and Gross both had 1-yard runs in the second quarter. Greg Park had three PATs in the first half.

Kalkaska scored its lone touchdown in the second quarter. Fulks had a 62-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter.

“We’ve been opening with Kalkaska for a few years,” Martin said. “They graduated a couple key components but they’ve been a consistent playoff team the last few years. They have a lot of kids in their nine through 12 classes. It was a good win to start the season.”

Powell made his debut as starting quarterback.

“I thought he had a great debut,” Martin said. “He was almost tied for our leading rusher. Overall he did a good job of managing our offense. I thought he made good reads all night long on our option. He managed the game well.”

McDonald added 53 yards rushing. Payton Pacola caught two passes for 25 yards.

Defensively, Dominic Garcia had 12 tackles and Greg Park added nine.

“Improvement-wise, we certainly had too many penalties,” Martin said. “We had too many miscues that hurt ourselves, more times than what we would like to see.”

Pine River plays at Benzie Central this Friday night.

“That could be a tough game,” Martin said. “They’re really big and strong, a physical team. They’ve got a new coach. In week 1, in figuring their offense out they had some miscues that cost them in their game. I would anticipate it will be a competitive game.”

Benzie lost 40-0 to Mason County Central.

“They’re running an option,” Martin said. “They threw the ball a little over 50 percent of the time. They’re half-and-half in the pass-rushing ratio. They’ll be big across the offensive and defensive line. That’s something we’ll have to prepare for.”