Coyotes defeat Warriors, 22-21, to score first-ever district title

REMUS — In 2012, the Reed City Coyotes fell to Newaygo, 30-29, in the district finals. In 2013, the Coyotes were eliminated by Muskegon Oakridge, 22-20, again in the district championship contest. On Friday, the Coyotes finally earned their first-ever district championship as they beat Chippewa Hills in another close contest, 22-21, in Remus.

“I can’t even explain it,” Reed City coach Monty Price said. “We got the monkey off our back and it’s been a long time coming. This is for all the community members that supported us throughout the years and the hundreds of players that have invested everything that they’ve had. It’s just special.”

The Warriors, who fell to the Coyotes 60-32 in Week 8, started the contest with the momentum as they executed an onside kick to swipe the first possession of the game from Reed City. The Coyote defense held, forcing a punt, but Chippewa Hills’ Steven Dietz’ kick was downed at the 3, giving the Coyote offense a long field for their first drive of the night.

The long field didn’t faze the Coyotes, however, as Collin Hatfield and Jon Green busted off long runs down to the Warrior 26, setting up a 26-yard scoring scamper for Andre Jones with 8:53 left in the first. Hatfield added the 2-point try to make the lead 8-0.

After a Warrior punt, the Chippewa Hills’ defense gave way to the Warriors’ offense, forcing a turnover on downs to set up a 29-yard touchdown pass from Conley to Austin Issette. Issette made the catch but was hit by two Coyote defenders, jarring the ball loose on what seemed to be an incomplete pass, but Issette hauled the ball in from his back in the end zone, making it 8-6 heading into the second quarter after the failed extra point try.

The Coyote offense answered on the next drive, converting two fourth downs before Nolan Patterson found Patrick Jobes for a 21-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-6, giving the Coyotes a 14-6 advantage with just under seven minutes to play in the half.

Jones picked off a Conley pass to stall a Warrior drive, but after a holding call brought back what would’ve been a 30-yard touchdown pass from Patterson to Schuyler Smith, the Warriors had the ball on their own 9 with under a minute to play in the half.

The Warrior offense wasted no time as Conley found John Wixson on a short route that Wixson turned into a 91-yard sprint down the sideline. Conley found Dietz on the 2-point try to knot things up at 14-14 heading into the second half.

After each side traded punts to open the half, the Warriors found some momentum on a 31-yard scoring strike from Conley to Caleb Martin, but a hold brought the play back and led to a Chippewa Hills punt.

Just when it seemed like the Coyotes were getting the momentum back, Patterson was picked off by Wixson who returned it 49 yards for a Chippewa Hills touchdown, giving the Warriors a 21-14 lead after the extra point from Takashi Hasegawa with 2:34 left in the third quarter.

The Warriors didn’t lead for long, though, as Jones reeled off back-to-back 30-yard totes to set up a 3-yard touchdown for Hatfield with 56 seconds left in the quarter. Hatfield added the decisive 2-point conversion to give the Coyotes a 22-21 lead going into the fourth quarter.

“It was a great performance, but I’ve got to owe it all to the line,” Hatfield said. “They made holes and that was the running lane for us. Linemen were key.

“We just came in focused and mentally prepared and we knew what we had to do and we just executed our plan,” he continued. “We’ve been making statements all year long and this is the one that really counted.”

After another Warrior punt, the Chippewa Hills defense stuffed Green on fourth down, turning the reins over to the Warrior offense with a one-point deficit and just over five minutes left in the district championship contest.

Conley was slinging passes all over the field, but the Warriors stalled to set up a fourth-and-3 on the Reed City 45. Conley sent a pass to Issette on the Warrior sideline, but he came up inches short of the first down.

“That’s what we wanted,” Chippewa Hills coach Larry Jose said. “That’s exactly the play, we just came up inches short. It’s tough, but they executed. We just came up a little short.”

The Warrior defense held the Coyotes to another fourth down, but Hatfield bounced off the initial contact and picked up the first down as the Coyotes clinched their first district championship in school history with a 22-21 win.

“If I had to pinpoint one thing it was the belief in our kids,” Price said. “We got down to that fourth down with a few minutes left and our seniors said ‘Coach we aren’t punting.’ They come over to the huddle and said we aren’t punting and said we’re going to win the district championship on this play and they called it. It was them. They did it and that was crucial.”

The Coyotes racked up 317 yards rushing as a team with Jones leading the three-headed backfield with 131 yards on 19 carries. Patterson went 5-for-10 for 82 yards, a touchdown and an interception in the victory. Taylor Pelton and T.J. Patterson each added seven tackles apiece on defense.

Conley went 12-for-25 through the air for 196 yards and two touchdowns while Quentin Gossett added 48 yards on the ground. Eric Russell had 16 tackles while Marcus Guerrero added 15 and Wixson chipped in nine stops and an interception.

“We have a great team and had a great team effort,” Jose said. “They played as a team the whole year and they worked hard every day in practice. They deserved a district championship…They just came up a bit short”

The Coyotes (9-2) will head to Grand Rapids West Catholic (11-0) for regional play next weekend.

REED CITY 22, CHIPPEWA HILLS 21

RC    08 06 08 00 – 22

CH    06 08 07 00 – 21

Scoring Summary

First Quarter

RC — Andre Jones 26 run (Hatfield run), 8:53

CH — Hunter Conley 29 pass to Austin Issette (kick failed), 2:03

Second Quarter

RC — Nolan Patterson 21 pass to Patrick Jobes (2-point failed), 6:31

CH — Conley 91 pass to John Wixson (Conley pass to Dietz), :37

Third Quarter

CH — Wixson 49 interception return (kick good), 2:34

RC — Hatfield 3 run (Hatfield run), :56

Fourth Quarter

No Scoring

Individual Statistics

Rushing: Reed City 58-317 (Andre Jones 19-131, Collin Hatfield 19-92, Jon Green 19-91) Chippewa Hills 18-75 (Quentin Gossett 10-48, Hunter Conley 8-27)

Passing: Reed City 5-82 (Nolan Patterson 5-10-82-1-1) Chippewa Hills 12-196 (Hunter Conley 12-25-196-2-1)

Receiving: Reed City – Patrick Jobes 4-80; Chippewa Hills – Austin Issette 4-47, Caleb Martin 3-29, John Wixson 1-91