Seniors boost Pine River football attack

LEROY – Pine River’s football team made the regional final in 2014, but failed to make the playoffs last year after an injury-plagued season.

The Bucks, who were 4-5 overall and 2-3 in the Highland. open with Kalkaska this Friday and have optimistic hopes for a turnaround season.

It’s Terry Martin’s fourth season as coach and he’ll be relying on the talents of seniors including Mason Powell (quarterback), Joe Rigling (linebacker/fullback), Hunter Esiline (wide receiver and safety), Tristen Nelson (running back and center), Raden Holmes (lineman), Andrew Frisbie (lineman), Mack Peterson (linebacker), Jeff Johnson (linebacker), Matt Stone (wide receiver).

Also returning to the varsity after playing last season as a freshman is Brian McCurry.

“We started last season with a couple of very strong wins and struggled down the stretch,” Martin said. “We lacked the depth necessary to put together a full season. We are returning many key skill positions and we have also increased numbers and depth at many positions we struggled with last year.”

Powell is a very key player for the Bucks.

“He’s a third-year starting quarterback and returns as the heart of our offense,” Martin said. “He will also have an experienced group around him as we return a starting fullback, running back and two wide receivers. We have a lack of experience on the line, but have many young players with potential and their development will define our season.”

On defense, the Bucks return most of their linebacker and secondary crew.

“The defense gave up over 300 points the last two seasons and has risen to the challenge to work hard and improve,” Martin said.

Pine River scrimmaged at Manistee last weekend.

“Manistee will be strong football team this year,” Martin said. “Boyne (City) is going to be strong. We also saw Shepherd which plays a tough schedule. Our kids play very well. We saw some things to work on. Overall I was very happy with them.”

Kalkaska “will be a tough game for us,” Martin said. “They’ll have an experienced group with a lot of seniors and a lot of kids returning.

“They play extremely aggressive on defense. We’ll have to be prepared.”