Pine River football schedule includes three new opponents

LEROY — Pine River’s football players will be preparing this summer for a fall schedule that presents some unique challenges.

Marion’s departure from the Highland Conference for football gives Pine River five league foes it will play from weeks three through seven.

“That puts us in a bind,” Pine River coach Terry Martin said. “Football gets scheduled so far in advance in some cases. When we decided to consolidate the conference schedule in the middle part of the season, that left weeks eight and nine open.”

Overall, three opponents will be new to the 2016 schedule.

To end the regular-season, “we ended up with two good nonconference teams,” Martin said. “That’s just going to mean some more traveling as a result of that. It’s late notice for football.”

Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian, which lost in the Division 6 state semifinals last season, will be the eighth-week road opponent for the Bucks.

“That’s a good playoff preparation game for us,” Martin said.

Pine River picked up Berrien Springs the ninth week for a JV-varsity Friday doubleheader. In 2016, Pine River’s teams travel to Berrien Springs.

“That’s going to involve a heavy dose of travel to get down to them,” Martin said.

Those two opponents have signed a two-year deal with Pine River.

The season opens at Kalkaska, a team the Bucks played last season, but Benzie Central is no longer the week two opponents. It’s been replaced by Mancelona, which comes to Pine River this year.

“We’ve played Benzie Central for a number of years and they decided to go in a different direction,” Martin said.

Pine River will travel to Mancelona in week two of the 2016 season.