By Dave Hart

MUSKEGON TOWNSHIP – The Grand Haven football team had to wait until the final week of the season last year to taste victory.

Apparently the Bucs liked the feeling, because they picked up where they left off with an impressive opening-night win on Thursday.

Grand Haven shut down Reeths-Puffer 27-0 on the Rockets’ home field, and will go into Week 2 at home against Traverse City West with a lot of momentum.

The Rockets will look to bounce back next week against Orchard View.

“We knew that we were young, but we knew that we would respond,” said Grand Haven Coach Joe Nelson, whose team only returned one starter on offense and two on defense from last season. “I am just really proud of the guys who have worked hard, it feels amazing.”

The Buccaneers led 7-0 after the first quarter and at halftime, then increased their advantage to 20-0 after three quarters.

Grand Haven’s No. 24 Joe Costello fights for extra yards against Reeths-Puffer defenders No. 26 Brett Buchan and No. 7 Eddie Longmire. Photo/Joe Lane

Grand Haven opened the scoring on its first possession on a 33-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Collin Takas to Wyatt Tucker with 6:32 left in the first quarter. The PAT gave the Bucs a 7-0 edge.

The Rockets moved the ball and seemed primed to tie the game on the next possession, but turned it over on downs at the Grand Haven 23-yard-line.

Reeths-Puffer also managed to drive inside the Buccaneer 35 with less than three minutes left in the first half, before an interception ended the effort.

The Buccaneers increased their lead to 14-0 on the first possession of the second half with a six-play, 62-yard drive that ended with a five-yard touchdown run by Owen Krizan.

The Rockets fumbled on their next possession at their own 35-yard line, but Grand Haven missed a field goal attempt and failed to cash in.

Grand Haven took control on Reeths-Puffer’s second possession of the second half, when Will McWatters intercepted a pass and returned it 19 yards for a touchdown, giving the Bucs a 20-0 lead with 2:58 left in the third.

The Buccaneers closed the scoring with under six minutes left in the game on another five-yard touchdown run by Krizan.

Grand Haven was led by Takas, who completed 5 of 10 passes for 126 yards and one touchdown. Connor Worthington rushed for 89 yards on 21 carries.

Krizan chipped in with 56 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries.

“By no means are we going to allow Week 1 to define our season,” said Reeths-Puffer Coach Kyle Jewett. “I saw fixable mistakes, and we just didn’t play well at all. I don’t want to take anything from Grand Haven. They played great.”

The Rockets were paced offensively by quarterback Evan Moskwa, who threw for 88 yards and rushed for 24 on five carries.