Pine River to make first playoff appearance since 2005

LEROY — Pine River, with a 6-3 record, has qualified for the football playoffs for the first time since 2005.

The Bucks are at Tawas 7 p.m. Friday in Division 6 predistrict action with the winner to face Morley Stanwood or Sanford-Meridian in the district final Nov. 7 or 8.

“We’re pretty happy with the drawing,” Pine River coach Terry Martin said. “Obviously, it will be a little bit of a car ride associated with that. As far as going in as a probable four seed, I think we’re happy where we ended up.”

The Bucks defeated McBain, 35-18, on Friday night to clinch a spot in the playoffs for the first time in nine seasons. 

The Bucks were down 12-7 at halftime, but recovered in the second half to pick up the win with Brandon Fulks picking up two scores on the ground and another on a pass from Mason Powell in the third quarter to complete the comeback before Jeff Gross added an 11-yard scamper in the fourth to seal the win. 

“We had a great second half,” Martin said. “The kids were down going into halftime and were down 18-7 early in the third quarter. But the kids just responded. It’s a true testament to our senior class.”

Fulks had three touchdowns on the night with 126 yards on the ground and 39 receiving yards, while Powell went 5-for-8 for 39 yards and a score through the air.

Mitch McDonald added 10 tackles to lead the defense.

“Mitch played the game of his career and was responsible for four takeaways,” Martin said. “Fulks played an outstanding game. Those two led the charge and everybody else followed suit.”

The Bucks were 3-6 last season in Martin’s first year. He took over after the program went 1-8 in 2012.

“Last year was a step in the right direction,” Martin said. “We were in it with small numbers. I think we’ll be formidable for the team we see in the playoffs.”

Sportswriter Daine Pavloski contributed to this report.