Super sophs get job done for Pine River

LEROY – It’s been an interesting sophomore season for Pine River football’s Mitchell McDonald and Tyler McCurry.

McDonald, plagued by injuries that have hindered his varsity season, was in prime form when he took over as quarterback in Friday’s homecoming game against Marion, a 28-12 Bucks victory. McDonald took a part in all four touchdowns.

“In the beginning of the season, I had a bulged disc and about 2 1/2 weeks ago, I got a concussion (against Lake City),” McDonald said. “My doctor put me out for two weeks.”

The back injury occurred halfway through the baseball season. He delayed his start with football and then the coaches tested his physical condition by playing on the JV level. Then he sustained the concussion. The Marion game was his first contest back. Usually a running back, McDonald was put in the role of quarterback, which has been vacant since the Evart game when Skyler Nelson sustained a season-ending collarbone injury. McDonald had little past quarterback experience.

“If Skyler was healthy, then I’d be at running back,” he said. “My team kind of helped me to adapt to the quarterback position. Coach (Chad) Phillips prepared me for the position. Overall, I felt it was a good experience. It was a good game for our team.”

McDonald wants to work on his decision making. Right now, he ranks as a running quarterback.

“I made a few passes that weren’t necessary,” he said. “My strength I feel, is I’m a running back, is my ability to scramble.”

Defensively, McDonald plays monster back for the Bucks, an inside linebacker type of position who can drop back into coverage.

McCurry also is a sophomore and had 10 tackles against Marion. It’s his first varsity season. He started out as center and then was moved to offensive guard. Defensively, he’s a tackle.

“I was told it was one of my best games so far and I think it was too,” McCurry said after the victory over Marion. “I’m not that strong but because I’m a wrestler, my technique of staying low really helps me. It helps me get to them and be able to move them around, look for the ball and shoot to it.”

His aggressiveness as an offensive lineman has been a major strength, McCurry indicated.

“My dad has instilled that in me since I started playing football,” he said. “I need to protect my friends. I started getting comfortable the second or third game. The first game, I focused on what the coaches told me to. It was my first game on varsity. I had some shoes to fill and some expectations.”

The win over Marion “was great,” McCurry said. “Everyone’s confidence has been lifted. We’ve gone through a lot this year. To get that win, especially on homecoming, it picked them up a lot.”

Only two weeks remain in Pine River’s season for the 2-5 Bucks.

“I hope we get two wins,” McDonald said. “We have McBain and Beal City coming up. They’re two pretty tough teams. I feel if we play like we did against Marion, we can compete with them.”

“We need to focus on our technique, eliminate the mental mistakes,” McCurry said. “McBain’s in the same boat as us. They’ve only won two games and don’t have that many kids out this year. It should be a pretty good game.

“You can tell we’ve come together as a family this year. Losing Skyler, when people get hurt, you feel the void of people missing.”