Reed City advances to state semifinals

Reed City players celebrate a regional crown.
Reed City players celebrate a regional crown.

REED CITY — Reed City Coyotes, football state semifinalists, for the first time ever.

Reed City football coach Monty Price has won a lot of games in his career with the Coyotes, but the above statement is one he’ll cherish for a long time.

He was able to reflect on it after his team held off Division 5 state power Menominee 46-34 in Saturday’s regional championship game.

“This is pretty special,” Price smiled. “It’s the biggest win in Reed City history. Like I told the kids, it’s huge. It got the monkey off our backs. I’m very happy for the kids. They earned it.”

Reed City (11-1) gained revenge over its Upper Peninsula opponent which came to the Coyotes’ home field a year ago and won convincingly 40-14 for the regional crown. The Coyotes were 0-2 in a regional final.

It was a different year and different results for the Coyotes who now play Saginaw Swan Valley at 1 p.m. on Saturday in a state semifinal game at Greenville. The winner plays in the state title contest on Nov. 25 at Ford Field in Detroit.

Phillip Jones had another big game with 22 carries for 186 yards, and an 85-yard touchdown kickoff return.

Both teams were hurt at various times time with penalties, although the Coyotes were able to build a 46-28 lead late in the game without hardly a penalty. Reed City had no turnovers, while Menominee had two fumbles.

“That’s kind of how things go in the game,” Price said. “The team that makes the fewest mistakes has the better chance to win. The team that plays more physical has the better chance to win. The team that’s resilient and never stops believing and trusts each other like these kids have done all year, there’s no question we should have won that game. It all fell into place.”

Stephen Shewan had two fumble recoveries including one early in the game that led to the Coyotes first drive.

Jones had a 42-yard run that set up a 6-yard scoring pass from Jackson Price to Zach Wirgau. Jones’ 2-point run made it 8-0.

Menominee’s single wing offence hadn’t been heard from yet. But it didn’t take long. The Maroons scored on Keagan Monroe’s 2-yard run but missed the two-point try.

The Maroons’ kicked off to Price who made them pay with an 85-yard kickoff return and the 20-point run for a 16-6 lead. Jacob Rivard’s 41-yard touchdown run at 8:31 of the second and the PAT cut the lead to 16-13. But Reed City responded with another scoring drive, capped off on Wirgau’s 10-yard touchdown run and Jones’ 2-point conversion for a 24-13 lead.

It appeared it would be a 3-point game going into halftime when Rivard scored on 3-yard run and Monroe passed for the 2-point conversion with 38.6 seconds to go. But the Coyotes used all but 2.2 seconds of the remaining time to score another touchdown. Price passed 40 yards to Brandon Major to set up a Jones 7-yard touchdown run. Jones ran for two points and a stunning 32-21 halftime lead.

“That was huge,” Price said. “I was yelling to my son to take a knee and he called the (touchdown) play. I didn’t have my headset on I didn’t even know what he was doing. I called the pass and he made the great play. He called the sweep to Phillip. It put us into the end zone. That was a huge game-changing play.”

Shewan’s second fumble recovery early in the third quarter set up Price’s 4-yard run for a 38-21 lead.

“You see the ball on the ground and you have to go get it,” Shewan said. “I was just making a play.”

Menominee drove down the field again and scored on Monroe’s 1-yard sneak for a 38-28 score.

Reed City scored on Jones’ 5-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter of for an 18-point lead. Rivard had a 30-yard run with 8:46 to go.

The clock was beginning to be a factor again for Menominee. The Coyotes drove down the field again and came within a yard of another score when Jones fell at the 1-yard line. Penalties pushed Reed City back to end the drive, and gave the Maroons new life, although only four minutes remained. Menominee got to the 6-yard-line before running out of downs. Mason Bush had a key quarterback sack during Menominee’s final drive.

“Right now we’re in the semifinals and that’s the only thing that matters,” Price said.

Swan Valley will present another tough match-up for the Coyotes who have survived three challenging playoff game tests.

“Our kids just attack each week,” Price said. “We’ve beaten some pretty good teams.”

Price had 42 yards rushing and a touchdown while Wirgau had 43 yards with a touchdown.

Defensively, Jeffery Phenix had eight tackles, Shewan and Anthony Pelton had seven tackles apiece and Charles Elliott and Bush had six apiece.