Pine River football team settles for 4-5 season

LEROY — Pine River’s football team was coming off a special 2014 season when the Bucks were 8-4 and district title winners for the first time in school history.

The Bucks were hoping to duplicate that task, but fell short in a season filled with injuries.

After a 2-0 start, the team settled for a 4-5 record. The Bucks were 2-3 in the Highland Conference.

“We felt we returned a pretty talented group of kids,” third-year coach Terry Martin said. “The season dealt us a lot of adversity. The goals and lessons associated with it kind of shifted as the year went on. At the end of the season, I don’t know if I’d argue it turned out to be a disappointment. With the amount of personnel issues we had, we went into week nine with an opportunity to make the playoffs, I think that spoke pretty well of how well our kids filled in to those positions.”

Dominic Garcia was a major loss to injury.

“He was our defensive leader the last two years,” Martin said. “Having him come in his senior season when he spent a lot of time in the off season, he was looking really strong and fast for us. He played 1 1/2 games prior to tearing his ACL.”

Senior safety Nathan Park broke his foot in the second game. Senior Payton Pacola struggled with a foot issue early and broke a hand midway during the season and was limited for half the year. Chase Morrison, a third-year lineman, had a hand injury in the first week, played 1 1/2 games and then was suspended for the rest of the year.

Mason Powell broke a hand and couldn’t play quarterback the last three games of the season.

A highlight was beating Evart for the Armed Services trophy.

“That was at a point of the season we were dealing with a lot of our personnel issues,” Martin said.

Looking at next season, Martin noted his junior class in 2015 accounted for a lot of skill positions.

“Our biggest need will be on the line,” he said.

The schedule will have at least one new opponent. The Highland Conference schedule goes from weeks three through seven. For nonleague, Kalkaska returns for week one and Morley Stanwood is a new opponent for week two. Berrien Springs will be back for week nine, but NorthPointe Christian will not return for week eight.

“That’s up in the air right now,” Martin said.