Pine River outside linebacker confident of Bucks’ prospects


LEROY — The Pine River Bucks are 4-2 after winning their last two football games and  Payton Pacola realizes it’s time to continue the winning streak.

The 5-foot-11, 160-pound Pine River junior is in his second varsity season. He’s at outside linebacker and wide receiver for the second straight season. He also started on defense last season. He’s started both ways this year.

As a sophomore, “I didn’t do terrible,” Pacola recalled, while adding he focused during the offseason to get better. “So far, so good, it would appear.”

Despite the loss to Beal City, 38-20 in 3 week, the Bucks were down 32-0 at halftime and came back for what might have been one of their stronger efforts of the season. Pacola had 10 tackles in the game.

“Their power offense just kept running it up the middle,” Pacola said, adding that his role on defense is to “get outside contain and take on the lead blocker.”

In the first three games, Pacola had caught two passes for the Bucks. In the Bucks’ option offense, his main role has been to block.

Pine River appears ready to have one of its better records in the past several seasons as the Bucks play at Manton this Friday in a Highland Conference game. The Bucks have surpassed last season’s win total already.

“We’ve been doing pretty good, way better than last year, that’s for sure,” Pacola said, adding that the team has enjoyed more depth this fall. “We have to stop (opponents) on defense. Our offense is pretty good.”

Cutting down on mistakes remains critical, Pacola said.

“(Against Beal City), we were terrible in mistakes,” Pacola said. “We definitely need to cut down on them more. I think we’re disciplined enough to cut them down.”