Pioneers pop Rosco, showdown with Beaverton tonight

Ryan Pummell (no. 24) and Kolt Lincoln (no. 21) make a tackle.

Ryan Pummell (no. 24) and Kolt Lincoln (no. 21) make a tackle.

by Ben Murphy
Sports Writer
photos by Shannon Zinser

With a big game looming in week nine, the Clare football team didn’t forget to take care of its business at hand in week eight. The Pioneers, hosting Roscommon in a Jack Pine Conference battle Friday night, played steady enough to earn a 36-8 victory.

“I thought we played pretty well considering we had our backup quarterback in,” head coach Kelly Luplow said. “Jeff Allen came in and put up some great numbers and did a better than expected job at leading the team. It is tough to come in week eight after not being there and running the show, but I thought he did a very good job with it.”

The Bucks took the opening kickoff and drove methodically down the field, reaching deep into Clare territory.

Clare’s Jeff Allen finds room to run down the middle of the field during Friday’s home win over Roscommon.

Clare’s Jeff Allen finds room to run down the middle of the field during Friday’s home win over Roscommon.

The Pioneers buckled down and put up a stop to get their first possession, and marched down themselves to take a 7-0 lead.

“Roscommon took six minutes off the clock and did exactly what they wanted to do, hold the ball for a sustained drive so we couldn’t get the ball and score,” Luplow said.

Clare also added a pair of scores in the second quarter to take a 22-0 lead at the half and held a comfortable 29-0 margin entering the fourth quarter. All this without starting quarterback Kaden Kelly.

“That’s our lowest point total since the beginning of the year, but 36 points, that’s still a pretty good number,” Luplow said. “The expectations are that we should be scoring 40 or 50 points every game, but that’s not going to happen, especially when you get towards the end of the season when teams are getting better. I’m totally happy with the score and the way our kids played.”

 Clare awaits to run onto the field before Friday’s game.

Clare awaits to run onto the field before Friday’s game.

While the offense did its’ job by scoring five touchdowns, Luplow was also happy with his squad’s defensive efforts. The Bucks weren’t able to crack the scoreboard until the fourth quarter, when the game was all-but decided.

“I thought our defense played so much better than they did the week before against Meridian,” he said. “We stressed defense a lot with them and we are going to have to again this week. You have to be better each week, we went down a couple of weeks ago but we got better this past week and we will have to be better this week as well.”

The Pioneers were led by Allen who was 12-of-18 passing for 146 yards, one touchdown and one interception and Allen also ran the ball nine times for 150 yards and two touchdowns. Kolt Lincoln ran seven times for 35 yards and a score and Brenden Sersaw added a short touchdown run as well.

Sersaw led the receivers with six catches for 55 yards, Lincoln had one catch, a 37-yard touchdown, Nick Roe had two catches for 34 yards and Tyler Rodenbo hauled in two passes for 14 yards.

On defense, Justin Tickle and Ryan Pummell led the way with 14 tackles each, Rodenbo had 10, Lincoln took down eight, Michael Rodgers had seven and Zac Stickler had five tackles, three of which for a loss. Sersaw also had an interception.

Clare (7-1 overall, 6-0 JPC) heads to Beaverton (8-0, 7-0) tonight for a showdown that will settle the conference championship. The Beavers, who are coming off a 35-0 win over Harrison last week, are looking for their first undefeated regular season since 1969. The Pioneers, who won last year’s JPC title and are annually one of the top teams in the league hope to stand in their way however.

“We’re excited about this week,” Luplow said. “There is not a better way to end the year and to go into the playoffs. This is going to be a playoff type game, with two teams going at it for a conference championship. It comes down to the last game of the year and we’re excited about it. We haven’t had this type of game to look forward to since week one against Ithaca so we’re excited about it.”

While the Beavers aren’t traditionally one of the strongest teams in the JPC, they have been improving in recent years, including making the playoffs for the first time since 2000 last year.

“They haven’t had a year like this in a long time,” Luplow said. “We know that we are going over to their place where it will be a playoff environment and it has been a long time since they’ve beaten us (1990). There’s a lot on the line for both teams as far as championships and playoffs and everything. It is nice to see from them, they have a great coaching staff that has done a good job rebuilding that program to the way it is today. We are going to have to play one of our best games to beat them.”

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