It takes two days, but Clare starts season with 35-0 shutout

September 7, 2019

Alec Hoffman boots an extra point as the lone blocks during last week’s season opening win at Alma.

by Ben Murphy
Sports Writer

It took two days to get the job done, but the Clare football team picked up a convincing win in their season opener last week. The Pioneers out-played host Alma in a game that was started on Thursday night and finished Friday morning due to a weather delay to pick up a 35-0 victory.

“I didn’t know what to expect going in, but both teams were similar in that we lost a lot of guys from last year’s team,” head coach Kelly Luplow said. “With the weather delay Thursday, we had to come back the next morning at 10’oclock and had to play what was almost a whole football game. I wasn’t sure how they would handle it but they handled it really well; they were right on for the first game.”

On Thursday night, the Pioneers got the game off to a fast start as Drew Schuster returned the opening kick 77-yards for a touchdown. Alec Hoffman kicked in his first of five extra points to make it 7-0 just moments into the contest.

“It’s nice when you have a big play like that to start a game,” Luplow said. “You get the momentum on your side and the kids were really excited.”
Clare got the ball back after a quick defensive stop and put more points on the board, this time getting a 38-yard touchdown pass from Shane Jenkins to Al Warner to make it 14-0.

Lightening caused play to be halted shortly after, with over eight minutes to play in the opening quarter. After waiting around over two hours, the game was postponed until Friday morning.

Friday was more of the same for the Pioneers, as they used a two yard touchdown run by Colt Smedley to lead 21-0 before the end of the first.
The Pioneers put the game out of reach by the half, getting a 20-yard touchdown run by Smedley and a 52-yard touchdown pass from Jenkins to Jon Bouchey to make it 35-0 at the break, which was the eventual final.

“The most important thing the whole time was the energy level they played with,” Luplow said. “They were high energy and they just played so well as a team and we all know that in a team sport you have to play like that.”

Smedley finished with 76 yards and two scores on 13 rushing attempts and Bouchey had one 15 yard run. Jenkins was five-of-seven passing for 121 yards and two scores and Jacob Recker was two-of-three passing for three yards. Bouchey hauled in four passes for 83 yards and a score, Warner had a 38-yard touchdown reception, Recker had one catch for 15 yards and Schuster had one grab for four yards.

Bouchey led the team in tackles with nine, including two for a loss as the Pioneers gave up just 121 yards of total offense and forced three turnovers.
“Defensively I thought we were all over the place, we swarmed the ball, got to the ball very quickly,” Luplow said. “Offensively we had some breakdowns but overall for the first game I’m very happy with how our offense played. Hoffman, our kicker is a soccer player and as a kicker had never done anything in football until this year and he was five-for-five on extra points in his first game, so I was very happy with that, that’s a nice thing to have. I’m just happy with guys that had to fill in big shoes and they all did a pretty good job.”

Clare (1-0 overall) hosts Gladwin (0-1) tonight (Friday) to open Jack Pine Conference play. The Flying G’s are coming off a 26-21 to Ogemaw Heights in their opener last week. Clare handled Gladwin 49-7 last year. The Flying G’s are guided by first year head coach Marc Jarstfer, a longtime Clare assistant.

“We aren’t going to overlook anybody, we can’t take anybody lightly,” Luplow said. “They struggled last year but they had a good game Thursday.

They have some kids that aren’t going to quit and the fact that we have their coach coming back after he played here and coached here. He’s coming home to play the first conference game so that’s kind of a neat thing. That’s going to be fun, we are excited about it, whatever happens.”

Colt Smedley breaks through a tackle .

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