Martin, Oliver spark Pine River football

LEROY -- Pine River’s football season is nearing the midpoint with players like Maverick Martin and Mack Oliver anxious to help the Bucks attain winning success.

Martin is a 6-3, 170-pound senior defensive tackle and offensive tight end. He started on defense last year and is a starter both ways this fall.

On his defensive assignments, “It depends on the team they run,” Martin said. “If it’s dive or trap, I get in there first and make sure the running backs have nowhere to go and keep them off our linebackers.”

Pine River is off to a 1-1 start.

“Defensively, we’ve had some pretty good stands,” Martin said. “We could use a lot more work.”

As a tight end, Martin has been blocking and pass catching. He caught one pass the first two games.

“I have good hands,” he said. “My speed isn’t the best but my hands make up for it.”

The Bucks have less than 20 players and going two ways can make it physically challenging, Martin admitted.

“It’s always a challenge when you’re going 100 percent every play,” he said.

Oliver is a 5-7, 170-pound junior starting center. It’s his first varsity season, but he did play center on the junior varsity level his sophomore year.

“Last year was my first year,” said Oliver, who previously was a left guard. “They asked me to move to it. It’s pretty good. I like it.”

The move, Oliver admitted, did take some adjustment.

“You have to make sure the snap is good, and remember to count, then the block,” he said. “It’s gone very good. I haven’t fumbled a snap yet (after two games). I’ve been blocking pretty decent, but not to my coach’s expectations, but pretty decent.”

In the team’s first win of the season against Benzie Central “we had good pass protection and good offense. We have to keep our offense together, keep our pass protection good, get a lot of touchdowns,” Oliver said.

“Our defense was doing a great job stopping them in all aspects,” Martin said. “We need to play as a team.”

Oliver continues to work on snapping and pass protection.

This week, the Highland Conference schedule starts and Oliver expects teams like Lake City and Beal City to be extremely tough.

The win over Benzie “gives us confidence, gets us pumped up,” Oliver said. “We’re going for a winning record this year,” Martin added.