Pine River opens season at home with Kalkaska

LEROY —  Pine River begins year No. 2 in the coach Terry Martin era this Thursday with hopes of marked improvement from last season’s 3-6 record.

There’s talk about getting to the six-win mark for a playoff spot but right now, the Bucks are focusing on Thursday’s season-opener at home against Kalkaska.

“Overall, I was really impressed with our defense,” Martin said. “I think our defense has come a long way from last year. Offensively, we’re right on track to where I want it to be right now.”

It’s a short week with the annual Thursday game prior to Labor Day weekend.

“Our focus is simply on beating Kalkaska,” Martin said. “We went and watched their scrimmage. They graduated a couple of kids out of their backfield that hurt us last year. This year, they’ve got a couple of weapons on offense. Their fullback and another receiver are pretty talented. We have to make sure they don’t beat us. That’s probably our biggest priority.”

A key for the Bucks on offense is that the entire line is returning. “They did a very good job at our scrimmage,” Martin said. “I think we’ll communicate better than we did last year, and they know their responsibilities a lot better than last year. That will be a huge factor.

“We have Brandon Fulks at running back and Jeff Gross at fullback. They had strong days at the scrimmage. We’re expecting a couple of big things out of the seniors.”

Mitchell McDonald and Greg Park will also be offensive weapons.

Dominic Garcia returns at linebacker.

“Our defensive line I think will be highly improved this year,” Martin said.