Pine River falls, Ruppert breaks tackles record

Devin Ruppert
Devin Ruppert

LEROY — Devin Ruppert ended his senior season with a career record for tackles at Pine River.

Meanwhile, Pine River couldn’t stop the Beal City offense in a 51-14 loss on Friday.

The Bucks turned the ball over five times in the first half against the undefeated Aggies to fall behind 48-0 at halftime. The Bucks then outscored Beal City 14-3 in the second half.

Mitchell McDonald scored one touchdown on the ground and added another through the air on an 18-yard pass to James Harvey in the fourth quarter.

“Beal City is the real deal,” said Pine River coach Chad Phillips. “They’re not 9-0 for nothing. You can’t have five turnovers in a half even to a poor team.”

McDonald finished 8-of-16 for 140 yards through the air, while Harvey caught three passes for 39 yards and a score. Dakota Wieczorek had two catches for 74 yards.

Ruppert led the Bucks with 14 tackles, while Cason Rawson had 13. Pine River finished the season at 2-7.

Phillips points to Ruppert’s achievements defensively as one of the highlights for the Bucks.

Getting a homecoming victory and raising monies during the Armed Services game with Evart were also highlights.

The Bucks entered the season with number problems. Five players expected to play decided not to come out for injury or other reasons.

“We were down five even before we started the season,” Phillips said. Mitch McDonald had his varsity season curtailed, coming off an injury from a few months ago and also having sustained a concussion.

Midway through the year, the Bucks lost quarterback Skyler Nelson to a collarbone injury. Wieczorek filled in as QB for the end of that game and another full game before McDonald came back from the injury list.

With the likes of Beal City, Evart and Lake City on the schedule, the Bucks had their hands full.

“Those three are in the playoffs,” Phillips said. “McBain was a pretty good 4-5 team. They play a tough non-conference schedule.”

So do the Bucks who were only able to defeat Benzie Central in the non-league slate.

Ruppert, with 131 tackles this season, had the second highest total for a regular season. But his 283 total tackles in three seasons breaks a school career record.

Pioneer prep editor Bob Allan contributed to this report.