LEROY -- Devin Ruppert, at 6-2, 195 pounds, will provide strength and toughness in the Pine River football lineup this season, as far as coach Chad Phillips is concerned.

Ruppert, a three-sport athlete, will be at linebacker and offensive tackle for the Bucks. It’s his third varsity season. He and his teammates spent plenty of time during the summer on lifting and skill work.

“We have a lifting class at school that most of the football players go into,” he said. “I thought we did a lot (during the summer). We had a lot of young guys that hadn’t played before. They came to lifting and really improved.”

Ruppert and several other Bucks on a 20-player roster will be playing both ways.

“We’ve done a lot of conditioning work,” Ruppert said. “We always have a tough schedule in the (Highland) Conference.”

The Bucks have been focusing on learning a new offense during practices this preseason.

“We have new blocking schemes and there’s a lot of new things we’re practicing on,” Ruppert said. “Instead of running the I formation, we’re running splitbacks. We’re still running our shotgun stuff”.

The season starts Aug. 24 at home against Kalkaska. Ruppert expects Beal City and McBain to be tough in the Highland.