The Clare Pioneer football team has won the last five Jack Pine Conference titles and 10 of the last 12. 25th year head coach Kelly Luplow hopes that 2012 is the first time the Pioneers can win six in a row.
“That’s kind of the goal of the kids,” he said. “ These kids would like to try to make it six. That’s one of the goals and obviously we have playoffs and trying to make some kind of a run in that. A goal of ours as a coaching staff is just building a team. If they come together as a team then they’ll be successful.”
Last year’s team went 9-2, suffering a week one loss to Freeland before rolling through nine straight wins, including seven JPC wins and a first round playoff win over Meridian. Clare’s season ended with a 41-13 loss to Morley-Stanwood in the district finals.
Back from that team are seniors Mitch Greenacre (linebacker), Zack Pulcifer (tackle)James Baer (guard), Kyle Schunk (tackle), Patrick Hughes (tackle), James Simon (running back), Anthony Whitehead (defensive back), Taylor Meixner (defensive end), Hunter Ruby (wide receiver, kicker) juniors Seth Harton (center) and Jordan Gross (running back).
New to the squad are seniors Spencer Harrell (wide receiver) Brock Swan (tight end) Sam Selles (running back), juniors Doug Prince (tackle), Mark Ruby, (guard), Nick Montini (guard), Chris Dysinger (running back), Josh Kinberg (tackle) Zack Tyler (quarterback), Joe McGire (linebacker), Logan Emery (running back, linebacker), Bean Ramos (running back), Kenny Smith (tackle), Zach Kryzankowski (tackle), Rily White (tackle), Josh Langlois (center) and Brandon Ayris (tight end).
“Tyler is going to be our starting quarterback,” Luplow said. “He brings a lot to us, he’s doing a good job running the offense. He’s a good running quarterback so we’re looking to use him in that capacity as well.”
Clare did lose leading rusher Jackson Gross, but his brother, Jordan along with Simon gives the Pioneers two experienced offensive backs.
“Jordan is very capable of matching his brother,” Luplow said. “Simon is back as well… We feel comfortable there.”
The coach doesn’t see many players standing out, rather a team full of talent.
“I just think we have a lot more depth this year,” Luplow said. “I think they’re all going to stand out, they’ve all got special qualities. We can rotate a lot of guys in… We don’t have to go both ways all the times with kids like we’ve done in the past.”
The Pioneers open their season tonight at home against Freeland. Clare fell to Freeland 48-35 a year ago, but won the previous three meetings.