by Ben Murphy
If there was a bad taste lingering after their week one loss to Freeland, the Clare football team certainly got rid of it Thursday, Sept. 1 in Pinconning. The Pioneers took down the host Spartans 76-6, in what was both teams’ Jack Pine Conference opener.
“Obviously we feel good after a win,” head coach Steven Spranger said. “It was a great opportunity to get a lot of guys game reps, and each gave great effort and contributed to the win. What was important was that we cleaned up the mental mistakes that we made versus Freeland. In order to get to the point where we want to be, those have to be eliminated and this game was a great step towards that goal. I thought the guys took what we worked on in practice and played with great tempo.”
The Pioneers jumped to a 35-0 lead after the first quarter. Carter Smedley started things off with a 30-yard interception return for a touchdown and Westyn Bryant had scoring runs of 20 and 15 yards. Miles Haggart added a one yard plunge and Bryant tacked on another touchdown from three yards out.
In the second quarter, Owhin Thompson raced in from 48-yards out, Karson Tocco hauled in a 64-yard touchdown pass from Miles Haggart and Ryan Rodenbo romped in for a score from 29-yards out, making it 56-0 at the half.
Clare pushed that lead to 63-0 on a 52-yard run by Jayden Arthur, with Pinconning getting a short touchdown pass to make it 63-6 entering the fourth.
In the final frame, Clare had a 56-yard touchdown run by Holden Hollingshead and Aiden Van Bonn had an 83-yard touchdown run.
Haggart’s 64-yard touchdown was his only pass of the game and he also had 20 yards rushing. Van Bonn led the ground game with his lone rush for an 83-yard touchdown and Thompson ran the ball two times for 57 yards. Bryant carried the ball four times for 44 yards and three touchdowns.
The Pioneer defense held Pinconning to just 37 yards of total offense and also forced three turnovers.
Hollingshead led the defense with eight combine tackles, Ritchie Montgomery had seven tackles, Wyatt Dole took down six and Bryant and Thompson both had five.
Clare (1-1 overall, 1-0 JPC) hosts Beaverton (0-2) today (Friday). The Beavers have lost to Evart 34-20 and Fremont 24-7 so far this season.
“Beaverton is a gritty team that plays with a tremendous amount of effort,” Spranger said. “That’s a testament to where (their coach) Aaron Seiser has brought that program over the years and raising their level of expectations. They may not have a lot of guys but they all play hard. Unlike Freeland and Pinconning being run first teams, they’re more of a balanced team. They rotate in two different quarterbacks and one is more of a thrower, while the other is more of a runner. We’ll have to prepare well this week for both.”