Reed City’s championship season ends with loss to West Catholic

GRAND RAPIDS – After clinching the first district title in school history earlier this month, the Reed City football team was hoping to make more history in a Division 5 regional matchup against two-time defending state champion Grand Rapids West Catholic on Friday.

But the Coyotes couldn’t keep their storybook season going as they suffered a 56-28 to the Falcons on a snowy night in Grand Rapids.

“A loss is always tough, but there’s not much you can do when the team is probably a different class ahead of you,” Reed City coach Monty Price said. “That’s a solid football team and we played as hard as we could and our kids never quit, but that’s a quality football program and obviously their success speaks for itself.

“They had bigger kids, faster kids, stronger kids, but our kids played hard and I’m very proud of what we accomplished this year.”

The chance of an upset looked very real when Reed City (9-3) got the ball first on its 11 and Collin Hatfield ripped off a 64-yard run to put the Coyotes in business in the red zone. But the Coyotes didn’t score.

“I felt we would be able to move the ball against them,” Price said. “As good as their defense is, I thought our offense would be competitive and I thought it was. Collin set the tone right away, but unfortunately we stalled down there.”

After dodging that bullet, the Falcons drew first blood just a few plays later with a 77-yard scoring strike from Travis Russell to Charlie O’Connor to give them a 7-0 lead with 5:30 to play in the opening quarter. Hatfield also suffered an apparent knee injury on the scoring play, knocking him out of the game.

But the Coyotes fought right back when Andre Jones got the ball on a sweep play and raced 62 yards down the sideline to put the Coyotes ahead, 8-7, after a two-point run by Jon Green with 3:51 to go in the first quarter.

West Catholic then jumped back in front with a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Russell to give the Falcons a 14-8 edge at the end of the opening stanza.

The Falcons got back to business with a 33-yard touchdown pass from Russell to Bryce Witham at the 10:13 mark of the second quarter before Russell connected with O’Connor for an 8-yard scoring pass at the 5:32 mark to push the advantage to 28-8.

But the Coyotes got the ball back on the ensuing possession, with Green barreling 49 yards down the field to set up a 12-yard touchdown run by Jones to cut it to 28-14 with 4:31 to go in the half after a failed 2-point try.

That proved to be as close as the Coyotes would get, however, as the Falcons added two more touchdowns before the half, a 17-yard run by Russell and a 10-yard pass from Russell to Conner Nemmers with six seconds on the clock, to take a 42-14 lead into the half.

The Falcons scored early in the fourth quarter. Reed City ended the third quarter with a 1-yard touchdown run by Patrick Jobes to put the score at 49-20 after a failed 2-point attempt.

West Catholic ended its scoring with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Russell to Nemmers to open the fourth quarter before the Coyotes closed the game out with a 17-yard touchdown run by Logan Straub, who also scored on the 2-point run attempt, to set the final score.

“It’s rough, but it was a hell of a ride with these guys,” quarterback Nolan Patterson, a senior, said. “It’s hard, but I love these guys and I would do it again, over and over again.

Reed City gained 297 yards on 38 carries, with Green piling up 111 yards on 14 carries while Jones had 75 yards and two scores on 10 carries.

Chris Barton led the Coyotes defensively with 10 tackles, followed by Taylor Pelton with eight stops and Jobes with seven.