By Greg Gielczyk
The players names may change, but Reed City’s offense never does. It’s the Wing T and it’s brought the Coyotes a lot of success.
Montague’s challenge on defense is clear for Friday night’s Division 6 district championship game at 7 p.m. in Reed City.
Find a way to stop it, or at least slow it down.
“Offensively, they (the Coyotes) run the Wing ‘T’ and they’re very good at it,” Wildcats coach Justin Dennett said. “It helps that we’ve played Edwardsburg and Oakridge, who run similar offenses, so we feel prepared for that.
“They’re big and physical up front, so we need to match that defensively.”
Reed City has qualified for the playoffs each of the last 12 seasons, reaching the Division 5 regional title game last year and the Division 5 state semifinal in 2017. The Coyotes have won five district titles since 2014.
That tradition isn’t the only thing the Wildcats have to worry about.
The Coyotes rushed for 285 yards with two runners surpassing the 100-yard mark and two touchdowns apiece.
“The first key is being able to slow down their running game,” said Dennett. “Second, we need to limit the mistakes on offense. Against a team like this, you can’t turn the ball over and commit penalties.
“Another key is to create explosive plays on offense. We were able to do that last week, and it feels like our
offense is really starting to click.”
Montague (7-3) snapped a two-game losing streak with a 41-7 thrashing of Central Montcalm in its pre-district contest at home last week.
Quarterback Andrew Kooi completed 13-of-19 passes for 161 yards and three touchdowns, while Dylan Everett rushed for 118 yards on 11 carries with two touchdowns. Adam Baird also had a rushing touchdown and gained 55 yards on eight tries.
“Last week’s game was just good for our confidence,” Dennett added. “We lost a couple of tough games at the end of the (regular) season, so it was good for our guys to play well and get a big win.”
“On offense they like to spread you out and get the ball into their athletes hands, which make them tough to defend,” said Reed City coach Scott Shankel. “Their defense is big, physical, and flies to the ball really well. They run an odd front most of the time.”
Playing at home is always a plus, and the Wildcats would have liked one more home playoff game.
But, they are determined to take care of business on the road.
“It’s just something you have to deal with,” Dennett said. “We just went on a long road trip to Portland in Week 9. I think going through that will help prepare us for this week.
“Both programs have strong playoff traditions, so I don’t think it’s a huge advantage either way. We do have a lot of players and coaches who have been through this, so I don’t think we will be fazed.”
Montague has qualified for the playoffs the last seven years, advancing to the semifinal in 2019 where the Wildcats lost to Glen Lake. They lost in the regional final in 2017.
The Wildcats are just a year removed from winning the Division 6 state championship with a 40-14 dismantling of Clinton in the title game.
Despite the “lose and go home” scenario of the post-season, Dennett doesn’t believe there is any added pressure on his team going into the game.
“We have the mindset to take it one week at a time, so that has been our focus so far,” Dennert said.
“Both teams have tons of playoff experience, so that will help both of us out in a district championship game,” Shankel said.