By Adam Knorr
For the second year in a row, Reeths-Puffer is 2-0 following victories over Holland and Fremont.
But the Rockets tripped up last year in Week 3 with a 19-9 loss to Grand Haven, then went on to drop five of their next six games en route to a 3-6 record.
That was a big disappointment following a 7-2 record and a playoff berth in 2013.
Grand Haven didn’t fare much better. The Bucs were 3-0 last September following the win over Reeths-Puffer, then went on to lose their last six games.
Both Reeths-Puffer Coach Kyle Jewett and Grand Haven Coach Jason Duram have bigger and better things in mind for their teams this season.
The two teams will clash at Reeths-Puffer on Friday at 7 p.m. in an important non-league matchup.
“We certainly point out to our players that we had the same start as our previous year, and we couldn’t capitalize going into the bulk of our season,” Jewett said.
“We don’t want to go 1-2 and they don’t want to go 2-1, so for both we’re looking at this as a major game,” said Duram, whose team opened the season by beating Fruitport, then lost to Forest Hills Central last week.
For both Reeths-Puffer (O-K Black) and Grand Haven (O-K Red), non-conference wins are crucial because their conference schedules are grueling.
“Every game is important,” Duram said. “You’ve got to get your six however you slice and dice it. I wouldn’t say it’s a must win, but I know we’re approaching it as a must win.”
In last year’s matchup between the two teams, offense was at a premium. The Rockets put up 55 points against Fremont last week and enter the weekend with momentum and confidence.
“I think we’re so aware of what happened last year that we’ve had one of our best weeks of practice this week in preparation for Grand Haven, just because we knew exactly what can happen,” Jewett said.
The Rockets will lean on a multi-headed offensive attack in search of a 3-0 start. Nate McCrary, Theo Stevenson, Mike Weissert, Tylor Skinner, Kaleb Weeks and Connor Brown all found the end zone in Reeths-Puffer’s dominating victory last week.
Quarterback Blake Ross will need to continue his effectiveness both on the ground and through the air for the Rockets to be fully effective. The Rockets will benefit from the return of standout running back Jordan Cooley, who was suspended the first two weeks.
The Buccaneers will be led by senior quarterback Levi Overway, who is a threat through the air and on the ground. Overway had a 47-yard touchdown run and two scoring passes in the Week 1 win over Fruitport.