Pine River advances to football district finals

TAWAS CITY — After earning their first playoff berth since 2005 during the regular season, the Pine River Bucks kept the magic alive on Friday night as they defeated Tawas, 25-19, to move on to the Division 6 district championship. 

The score was knotted at 7-7 at halftime, but the Bucks outscored the Braves 18-12 the rest of the way to secure the victory. 

“It was obviously a pretty exciting night for Pine River football,” Bucks coach Terry Martin said. “Being the first (school) playoff win was a huge deal for this group of kids. I don’t think we ever actually trailed but no team led by more than seven.”

Brandon Fulks played the hero once again for the Bucks, scoring their first touchdown from three yards out. Fulks also added a 68-yard touchdown reception and a 95-yard kickoff return touchdown to cap off the victory for Pine River. 

“He picked it up with just a couple yards of space is all and that was with a couple of minutes left in the game,” Martin said. “It was an awfully exciting night of football.

“Brandon Fulks had an absolutely amazing game.”

Mason Powell finished the contest with 113 yards on 17 attempts along with 118 passing yards with a touchdown. Fulks had 45 yards on the ground and 95 yards receiving along with his kick return score while Greg Park had a catch for 23 yards. 

“It was windy,” Martin said. “It was a pretty consistent 30 miles an hour wind. We were (close to) Lake Huron over there.”

Fulks made plays on defense as well, snagging two interceptions, while Mitch McDonald and Jeff Gross each added 12 tackles apiece. 

The Bucks will take on Sanford Meridian in the district final 7 p.m. Friday night.

Meridian defeated Morley Stanwood 19-14 in the other district semifinal last Friday night.

“They seem to be extremely well coached with everybody doing their job well,” Martin said. “Their offense is well balanced. They have a pretty good passing game along with the run game. What stands out to me is that they play great defense. Their special teams and defense are consistent. They’ve held some very good teams to very few points.

“I think they’ll be different than Tawas. Tawas had a couple of guys that they really relied upon that had excellent speed whereas Sanford seems to be a balanced team. They get good production out of their run game. They have a pretty balance offensive set.”

The Bucks will head into this game with plenty of confidence, Martin acknowledged.

“Just the way we finished up the last couple of weeks, we put together a good performance against McBain to pull out a win late in the game and this game was an excellent effort. Tawas is a very good football team.”

Sportswriter Daine Pavloski contributed to this report.