Nelson completes strong season for Bucks

LEROY — As only a sophomore, Skyler Nelson had an impressive football season for the Pine River Bucks.

The Pine River quarterback set a single season record for yardage with 1,167. He also threw for nine touchdowns.

Did he think he could achieve such statistics this season?

“I had no idea I was going to do that,” he said. “That was a goal for my junior and senior seasons.”

Nelson has been a quarterback since the Pop Warner level. He was quarterback for the junior varsity team as a freshman.

Nelson was among the three Pine River players that earned all-Highland Conference honors for this past football season.

Also on the first team from Pine River were inside linebackers Devin Ruppert and Clay Stokes.

“He had a pretty good season for me,” said Pine River coach Chad Phillips of Nelson. “He had good skills in terms of making reads. He came in and had no fear. He’s just a sophomore. He can still get a lot better. He’s continuing to progress.”

“We had a good passing game against Beal City,” Phillips recalled. “We also had a good passing game against Marion.”

Phillips said one area in which Nelson could improve upon is in completion accuracy which this season was 45.

“He was more of a pocket passer,” Phillips said. “He’s really not an option quarterback.”

“I think I have a pretty strong arm,” Nelson said, adding that even though football season has ended, “I’ll start throwing the football year round.”

Ruppert, a junior, had 89 tackles.

“He also had six games in double digits for tackles,” Ruppert said.

Stokes, a junior, had 102 tackles.

Zane Kanouse and Joe Miller earned all-league honorable mention honors.

Kanouse started at center for the Bucks.

“He was the leader on our offensive line,” Phillips said. “He also had 64 tackles on defense. He was one of our strongest leaders on the team.”

Miller played fullback after being moved from the tight end spot. He gained 463 yards, averaging 5.1 yards per carry. He scored three touchdowns as a running back and caught 14 passes for 85 yards and a TD.

Despite a memorable season for Nelson and other players, the 2-7 team record was a disappointment.

“I thought we would win more games than we did,” Nelson said. “It was disappointing to me.”

But there’s always next year and Nelson is confident the Bucks can have a strong season.

“We should win more games,” said Nelson, who next week focuses on the first week of varsity boys basketball practice. “He’ll be on the varsity again.”