Reed City tames Clare in district final

by Ben Murphy
Sports Writer

For a half, it looked like we were in store for the game everyone expected. Reed City turned it on in the second half however, as it pulled away from visiting Clare in the two’s division five football district championship game Friday night, 34-7.

“It started out good, I still think we are two pretty evenly matched teams,” Clare head coach Kelly Luplow said. “We just didn’t play the type of game we had been playing. For the whole season, our offense and defense fed off each other; when one played well the other would, but in this game we just never really got into any rhythm at all. It was an off night for us. I’m not taking anything away from Reed City though, they were a good team but we just made them look a bit better than they were. I don’t think they are that many points better than us, it just wasn’t a good night.”

The Coyotes opened up the scoring with about three minutes to go in the opening quarter, as they got a 29-yard touchdown run by Brandon Major and a two point conversion to make it 8-0.

The Pioneers answered about halfway through the second quarter on a nine yard touchdown pass from Kaden Kelly to Kolt Lincoln. Aidan Boyd’s extra point allowed them to pull within 8-7 and they were still in it at the half, despite giving up a late 32-yard touchdown run, making it 14-7 at the break.

“We felt real good at the half,” Luplow said. “We talked about a few things we wanted to do but we felt good about the way things were going. Offensively we moved the ball but we just couldn’t finish anything.”

In the third quarter, Reed City got a pair of scores from Phillip Jones, the state leader in touchdowns this season, to give it a commanding 26-7 lead. Jones proved to be tough to slow down as he finished with 269 yards on the ground on 25 carries.
“They had a couple big plays in the third quarter and we just made a few mistakes on our reads,” Luplow said. “We got down a couple scores and it just became a difficult task to get back in it. They were riding high on their momentum and we were just struggling to make things happen.”

Connor Agan added a 10-yard score in the fourth quarter to bring the score to the eventual final, 34-7.

“This was a game with two really good football teams that played hard and exhibited the highest of sportsmanship,” Luplow said. “It was a good high school football game and we have a lot of respect for Reed City and what they do; their staff had them ready for us.

“We had a great following this year,” he added. “It really helped the kids’ performance throughout the year. Thanks to the community, the school and the kids for all the support we had this year.”

Clare’s Tanner Punches leaps up to make a catch during Friday’s playoff loss in  Reed City.

Clare’s Tanner Punches leaps up to make a catch during Friday’s playoff loss in
Reed City.


Kelly finished 11-of-24 passing for 134 yards, one touchdown and one interception and he also led the ground game with 27 yards.

Nick Roe led the receivers with five catches for 95 yards, Tyler Punches had three grabs for 37 yards and Tyler Rodenbo had three catches to total 21 yards. Brenden Sersaw was held largely in check, as he had four rushes for 19 yards and he also completed one pass for 28 yards.

The defense was led by a big 17 tackle performance by Lincoln, Ryan Pummell had 13 tackles, Justin Tickle took down 11 and with 10 tackles each was Zac Stickler and Myles Williamson.

The loss ends yet another successful season for Clare, as it finished 9-2 and made the playoffs for the second year in a row and 11th time in the last 12 years.

“It is disappointing, but at the same time, like I told the kids afterwards, we’re not going to let one game define our year,” Luplow said. “We had a great year, the kids played hard and we put on a good show every Friday night. We just ran into a buzzsaw and we couldn’t pull ourselves out of a hole. I’m extremely proud of the guys and how hard they worked ally ear and the type of performances they had. They were an awful good football team, it just didn’t end the way we hoped it would. Unless you win the state championship, that’s the way it is going to be for everybody though.”

Kaden Kelly avoids pressure to get off a pass. 

Kaden Kelly avoids pressure to get off a pass. 


For a program that has grown accustomed to league championships and playoff runs, it’s hard to not look forward to next year.
“You never stop thinking about what you are going to do once the season is over,” Luplow said. “You start making plans for what you have to do to keep it going. We have a lot of guys coming back that are going to be instrumental in our success next year. I think we are going to be very good next year. We have some guys coming back up front, some guys in the secondary and in our skill positions and some good ones coming up, so we’re optimistic that’s for sure. You just start over and start doing the same thing over again and hopefully we can put it back together again.”.

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