RC buzzsaw dashes Pioneer playoff hopes

November 8, 2018

by Ben Murphy
Sports Writer

Clare had no answer for Reed City Friday night. The Coyotes, hosting the Pioneers in a division five district championship game built a commanding lead by the half all to hand Clare a 38-7 season ending loss.
“Nobody wants their season to end with a loss but there are only eight schools in the state that will be happy after their last game,” head coach Kelly Luplow said. “They were awfully, awfully good up front and we had a difficult time with that. I knew they were going to be good, but I didn’t realize that they were going to be that dominant up front.”

The Pioneers made their lone first half defensive stop on Reed City’s first drive, getting an interception by Brenden Sersaw. The Coyotes ran wild from there however, to the tune of 424 yards on the ground and threw for an additional 64. Stand out senior running back Phillip Jones-Price proved as tough as advertised as he scored first quarter touchdown runs of 53 and 81 yards to make it 16-0 after one.

He stayed hot in the second quarter as he found pay-dirt from eight, 23 and 15 yards, all to make it 38-0 at the half.

Kaden Kelly avoids defensive pressure as he looks to make a pass.

Kaden Kelly avoids defensive pressure as he looks to make a pass.

Drew Schuster looks for room to run on the outside.

Drew Schuster looks for room to run on the outside.

“When you are that good up front that gives kids a lot of opportunities to be successful,” Luplow said. “He’s a special athlete, I am glad he is graduating. He has scored a lot of touchdowns for them. Their quarterback is really good too and they have a few other good ball players. They run a

good system with their ‘T’ offense and when you have the horses to run that offense you can be tough to beat.”

A running clock ate away at most of the second half, but the Pioneer defense did finally slow down Reed City, holding them out of the endzone. Clare also had its lone points of the night in the fourth quarter, as senior running back Brenden Sersaw hit pay-dirt from five yards out. Aidan Boyd socked in the extra point.

“They were clearly the better team, though I’m not quite sure they were that many points better than us, but we got down and that made it a difficult task to come back,” Luplow said. “Our kids didn’t quit, they played hard the whole game and I’m proud of that. I’m not going to let one game take away from the type of season we had this

Colt Smedley goes in for a tough tackle. 

Colt Smedley goes in for a tough tackle.

year, we had a phenomenal season.”

Kaden Kelly finished 10-of-21 passing for 106 yards, Sersaw ran nine times for 41 yards and a touchdown, Colt Smedley had three receptions for 53 yards, Josh Gould had one catch for 21 yards, Shane Jenkins had one grab for 17 yards and Sersaw had two receptions for 14 yards.

The defense was led by Jon Bouchey with eight tackles, Myles Williamson and Kelly took down seven each and Smedley added five tackles. Sersaw also had an interception.

Clare’s Brenden Sersaw sets himself to return a kick during Friday’s district final loss at Reed City. Photos by Ben  Murphy

Clare’s Brenden Sersaw sets himself to return a kick during Friday’s district final loss at Reed City.
Photos by Ben Murphy

“It is going to be hard to not see some of these guys on the field next year,” Luplow said. “We are going to have to rebuild a little bit next year and we aren’t used to that. We don’t normally have to do that but we will certainly have to do that next year.”

While talk of a rebuild might scare some, it certainly doesn’t appear to have Luplow worried.

“My guys know what the expectations are and that is what makes us consistent,” he said. “The kids coming in know what it takes to play at a championship level. I expect them to come in and I expect them to be dedicated in the weight room. We are going to be really young next year so we are really going to have to concentrate and develop the kids early, they are going to have to spend time in the summer working hard and learning our system, or get better at our system.”

The Pioneers finish the year 9-2 overall and shared the Jack Pine Conference with Beaverton and Roscommon, who all had 6-1 league records.

“We had a great team, we didn’t get the district championship that we wanted but we did get a piece of the conference championship so we got something out of the deal,” Luplow said. “They played well through adversity all year and kept playing har and that is what is important to me.”

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