Clare throttles Beal City in bounce back win

The Clare student section cheer on their team during Friday’s 41-0 win over Beal City.

The Clare student section cheer on their team during Friday’s 41-0 win over Beal City.

By Ben Murphy
Sports Writer

What a difference a week makes. After suffering a 38-14 loss to Ithaca in its football season opener, Clare bounced back in a big way in week two, dominating visiting Beal City 41-0 Friday night.

“You are always a little concerned after having a first game like we did, but you have to realize we were playing the number one team in the state in division six,” head coach Kelly Luplow said. “We got better, we executed a lot better on both sides of the ball. We stopped them in some crucial situations, made some big plays and kept them out of the end zone so we were real happy with the performance.”

Kaden Kelly looks to complete a pass. 

Kaden Kelly looks to complete a pass.

The Pioneers wasted no time in taking control of the game. They started their first drive on their own 67-yard line and used a couple of big pass plays from Kaden Kelly to get to the one yard line.

Jeff Allen finished off the drive by bulling in from one yard out and Aidan Boyd socked in the extra point for the early 7-0 lead.

“That’s always important,” Luplow said of taking the lead on the first drive. “We came out throwing the ball right away and got it to the one yard line and got into our jumbo set and scored a touchdown, so that was big.”

Zac Stickler lunges ahead for a touchdown. 

Zac Stickler lunges ahead for a touchdown.

The Aggies did take their next drive to inside the Clare 20 yard line, but stalled out at the 13.

Clare took advantage as it traveled the required 87 yards to score on 11 plays, cashing in on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Kelly to Tanner Punches for a 13-0 edge, where the score remained until the half.

“I just thought that Kelly showed a lot of improvement from the week before,” Luplow said. “I really believe that the varsity game is a little bit faster than junior varsity, so I think the game slowed down quite a bit for him this week. He had a lot more composure and did some good things. He still has some things to work on, he’s a young guy but I look to him to get better every week.”

The second half saw Clare put the game away in a hurry. The Pioneers scored on a Brenden Sersaw scored on a 13-yard run to put the team ahead 20-0.

Nick Roe made an interception on defense to return the ball to the Clare offense, allowing Sersaw to score again from 13 yards out.

Clare wideout Tyler Rodenbo runs for yardage after the catch. 

Clare wideout Tyler Rodenbo runs for yardage after the catch. 

Late in the third, Clare punted the ball away to the Aggies, but they mishandled the punt, allowing the Pioneers to pounce on it at the nine yard line.

Back in their jumbo package, Zac Stickler, primarily a lineman, banged his way in from a yard out to put his team up 34-0.

In the fourth, Xavier Martin put an end to the scoring with a three yard run for the 41-0 final.

“Beal city doesn’t get shut out to many times so anytime you can get a shutout on them that’s quite an accomplishment,” Luplow said. “It just gives your team a lot of confidence and allows them to believe in themselves and you just hope to keep it going now.”

Kelly finished the night going 14-of-22 passing for 181 yards and he added 33 yards rushing as well. Kolt Lincoln ran 12 times for 67 yards, Sersaw had six receptions for 109 yards and Tyler Rodenbo had three catches for 37 yards.

“I was very happy with our offensive line, Kelly had a lot of time to throw the ball which was nice,” Luplow said. “I thought our run-blocking was pretty good too, we moved the ball pretty decent on the ground and in the air.”

Rodenbo also had a big night on defense with 12 tackles and an interception and Justin Tickle had seven tackles.

With its two season opening league games out of the way, Clare turns its attention to the Jack Pine Conference in its final seven games. The Pioneers won the league last year with a perfect 7-0 mark.

“I was really pleased with how we came back from week one to week two, now we go into the conference schedule,” Luplow said. “Every week is going to be a tough week. There are a lot of good teams in the league, we’ll have to be on our ‘A’ game every week.”

Clare (1-1 overall) host Houghton Lake (2-0) tonight (Friday). The Pioneers topped the playoff-bound Bobcats 56-28 in last year’s season finale, but H-L has had convincing wins to start the year; 20-0 over Mason County Central in week one and 48-7 over Harbor Springs last week.

“They were a playoff team last year and they are off to a good start this year,” Luplow said. “They’ve been an improving team every year and this year is no different. They are going to be pretty good. They have a quarterback who is a state champion hurdler, he’s in his second year at quarterback for them and he is extremely fast and elusive, we have to figure out a way to keep him under control. If we let him run around we’ll be in trouble. Hopefully we have the right plan in place for that.”

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