Eagles no match for potent Pioneer offense

by Ben Murphy
Sports Writer

A slow start didn’t keep the Clare football team from pulling off a big win over rival Farwell Friday night. The Pioneers, though heavily favored to top the host Eagles, only led 7-6 early in the second quarter of the Jack Pine Conference meeting, but a big second quarter lifted them to a lopsided 57-6 victory.

Clare quarterback Kaden Kelly looks to pass as Lucas Radtke blocks on the play. 

Clare quarterback Kaden Kelly looks to pass as Lucas Radtke blocks on the play.

“We weren’t executing very well early on,” Clare head coach Kelly Luplow said. “It was one of the fears that I had going into the game. Anytime you go into a game against a team that hasn’t won, you have to deal with a young guys’ mentality in that they think they just have to show up. Farwell always plays hard and we just didn’t execute very well early on. A lot of the game we didn’t execute very well, but we had a good second quarter, scoring a lot of points but it still wasn’t a typical Clare effort at all.”

For the Eagles, the loss tacks on to its frustrating season, as they are still looking for their first win.

Farwell’s Hunter Turner rolls out to make a pass. 

Farwell’s Hunter Turner rolls out to make a pass.

“We played very hard the entire game, we made many mistakes, but played hard,” Farwell head coach Ben Bryant said. “We are going to focus on our mental focus this week, we need to play mistake free and bring great effort each play.”

The lone scoring play of the first quarter saw the Pioneers get a six yard touchdown run by quarterback Kaden Kelly, with Aidan Boyd booting in the extra point to make it 7-0 after one.

The Eagles struck back early in the second, getting a Hunter Turner touchdown pass to Jacob Graves from six yards away, pulling within 7-6.

From here it was all Clare as it racked up 50-straight points to, including 36 in the second quarter alone.

The Pioneers’ first score in the second quarter came on a Kelly to Tanner Punches toss for 45-yards, followed by Kelly finding Nick Roe for a 48-yard score and Tyler Rodenbo on a nine-yard toss.

“That’s just the way it happened,” Luplow said of the passing touchdowns. “We try to take advantage of what the other team gives us and they gave us a few shots in the air and we had all four of our main receivers score a touchdown. Kaden started out slow but got better as the game went on. It’s not just a single person contributing, our stats are spread out because a lot of these guys can make plays.”

Brenden Sersaw followed that with a pair of scores before the half, first getting a 15-yard touchdown run and then, for the second time in as many weeks, he returned a punt for a touchdown, this one coming from 41-yards out.

Clare’s Kolt Lincoln runs for a big gain during Friday’s road win at Farwell. 

Clare’s Kolt Lincoln runs for a big gain during Friday’s road win at Farwell.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone score on a punt return two weeks in a row,” Luplow said. “Having that weapon and having the other guys on the team that are good players as well in their positions make us potentially a very dangerous team at times.”

The Pioneers tacked on a pair of third quarter scores as well, getting a Kolt Lincoln 19-yard touchdown run and a Kelly-to-Sersaw connection from 19-yards out.
“I can’t say I was happy, but we got the win and that’s always good, that’s ultimately what you want to do especially at the varsity level,” Luplow said. “But at the same time you want your performance to be quality and I don’t think we played that well. I thought at times we played well but the overall effort I thought we ere lacking a little bit.”

Kelly finished seven-of-14 passing for 155 yards and four touchdowns and he also had 64 yards and one score on the ground. Sersaw had 34 yards rushing and two scores and he also had one touchdown catch. Lincoln finished with 32 yards and one score on the ground and Rodenbo had three receptions for 32 yards to lead the receivers.

Zac Stickler led the defense with seven tackles, Ryan Pummell and Jeff Allen had six tackles apiece and Rodenbo had five. Sersaw and Punches hauled in one interception each.

The Eagles were led by Turner who was six-of-19 passing for 63 yards and one touchdown and he also led the ground game with 30 yards on seven rushing attempts. Anthony Yonts was the top receiver with three receptions for 40 yards and Jon Dienberg had one catch for 26 yards.

Turner and Yonts had five tackles apiece to lead the defense and bringing down four was Vinnie Nelson.

Farwell (0-6 overall, 0-4 JPC) heads to undefeated Beaverton (6-0, 4-0) tonight (Friday). The Beavers shutdown Meridian last week, 34-0.

Clare (5-1, 4-0) hosts Meridian (2-4, 2-2) tonight for homecoming.

“There are a few challenges this week, number one is it’s homecoming and that’s always a challenge to keep guys focused on the game with all the other stuff going on,” Luplow said. “This has turned into a pretty good rivalry and they have put some points on the board this year. They put 70 points on the board earlier and to do that you have to have some skill. They have a quarterback that can throw the ball around and some receivers so for us to come out on top we have to put pressure on their QB and make him throw when he doesn’t want to throw. Its going to be a tough game though, that’s what I expect anyway.”

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