Pine River football opens at home Thursday

LEROY — Pine River opens its home football season Thursday against Benzie Central and will look to even its record to 1-1.

In the season opener last Friday, the Bucks fell to Kalkaska 33-12 in a road game.

The Bucks trailed 19-12 in the fourth quarter and punted the ball. But Zack Hills returned it 90 yards for a Kalkaska touchdown that stunned the visiting team.

Dakota Wieczorek gained 106 yards on nine carries for Pine River and had a 2-yard run for the Bucks in the second quarter. The other six points for PR came in the third on Skyler Nelson’s 73-yard touchdown strike to Clinton Mitchell.

“We didn’t play very well,” said Pine River coach Chad Phillips. “I thought our offensive line played pretty decent. Overall, we executed poorly. We had four turnovers. Ours were pretty key turnovers. We had close to 400 yards offense. Those turnovers killed us.”

This week in practice, the Bucks will focus on tackling, Phillips noted.

“You usually have a lot of growth between weeks one and two,” he said. “But we have a short week. There’s not a lot of days to get it all in.”

Benzie Central runs a full house T offense.

“They’ll run it at us,” Phillips said. “Kalkaska was more of a spread out team and runs a lot of option. This team will be more pounding it at you.”


Pine River was 4-2 Saturday at the Kingsley Invitational. In pool play, the Bucks lost 25-12, 25-22 to Kingsley, but defeated Kalkaska 25-15, 25-17 and Houghton Lake 25-13, 25-22. The Bucks won 25-19, 25-15 to Elk Rapids in the quarterfinals and 25-11, 27-25 to Benzie Central in the semifinals. In the finals, the Bucks lost to Kingsley 25-11, 18-25, 15-11.

For the Bucks, Jessica Hoaglund had 32 kills, 17 digs, 15 blocks and served 34 for 34;

Cayman Gatt had 23 kills and led the team in digs with 69; Chelsea Nelson had 23 kills, 57 digs and 84 assists. And Kassy Nelson added 62 digs on the day.

Hoaglund and Chelsea Nelson were named to the all-tournament team.

“I thought the girls finished strong,” said Pine River coach Jana Dennis. “We had goals set and many of those goals were accomplished. We showed amazing tenacity being down by as many as 10 points at one time and closed the gaps. My goal for the team is to always show growth from week to week. They are continuing to achieve that goal. We had some younger players step up and show what they can do but I think the ones that really stepped up were our returnees.

“Jessica and Cayman really kept the team in games. Chelsea continues to be a great leader and go to girl.”

The Bucks are 11-3.

On Wednesday at Kalkaska, the Bucks beat Traverse City Christian 25-17, 25-19 and Clare 25-10, 25-10. The Bucks beat Kalkaska 25-11, 25-14 to finish at 4-0.


Pine River’s boys were sixth at the Benzie Central Invitational on Saturday.

Trevor Holmes was 11th in 17:28.8 while Caleb Elkins was 18th in 18:11.03 and Greg Schaefer was 26th in 18:39.92.

For the girls, Pine River’s Devyn Powell was 10th in 21:04.