By Craig Beilfuss

MUSKEGON—The Cody Kater era as the Reeths-Puffer head football coach got off to a great start on Thursday evening as the Rockets cruised past a young and inexperienced Grand Haven squad, 32-20.

I think we played great complimentary football,” said Kater. The offense scored on the first possession after the kickoff recovery. The defense caused some turnovers and the special teams caused some turnovers. We had a ton of time of possession in the second half.

Those things were nice to see because that is what you need to win tight games,” Kater said. “I’m excited to get back to the board because we still have a lot of things to work on.  It was a great win in a tough atmosphere with all the heat and humidity along with it raining all day. I’m excited for these seniors and ready to get back to the drawing board.”

Turnovers played a key role in the win for the Rockets as the Buccaneers fumbled the football three times and were intercepted once.

Grand Haven fumbled away the football on the opening kickoff.

The Rockets recovered the ball and took over at the Buccaneer 25.

Two plays later, senior quarterback Brady Ross connected with junior Bryce Ross on a 22-yard TD pass play and the Rockets had a 6-0 lead at the 11:23 mark.

On their first offensive possession, the Buccaneers went on a 16-play drive and ate up more than 10 minutes only to come up empty on a field goal attempt.

The Rockets went up 12-0 in the second quarter when Brady Ross scored on a 3-yard run with 7:31 remaining in the half. The conversion failed.

The Rockets built the lead to 19-0, when Bryce Ross connected with senior Tayte Vanderleest on a 47-yard TD reception at the 4:21 mark. Brooks Johnson converted the PAT.

Grand Haven got on the board at the end of the first half when Buccaneer quarterback Xavier Rodriguez hit William Korenstra on a 35-yard pass play. Bryant Taylor hit the PAT and the visitors went into the halftime break trailing 19-7.

Reeths-Puffer went on a 13-play drive to open up the second half that covered 71 yards. Brady Ross scored on a 20-yard run to put the Rockets up 25-7 with 4:53 remaining in the third quarter.

Grand Haven narrowed the gap to 25-13 with 28 seconds left in the quarter when Rodriguez scampered in from 10 yards out.

The Rockets put the game away as Brady Ross scored a touchdown on a 2-yard run with 4:41 remaining.

Grand Haven closed out the scoring on a Rodriguez 3-yard TD run late in the fourth quarter.

I think if you look at that first quarter, we had a lot of young kids and a lot of inexperienced kids out there and we just have to recover and get ready for the next game,” veteran Grand Haven coach Mike Farley said. In the second half we played a lot better on both sides of the football. We were making the blocks that we needed to make. It’s my job as the head coach to get them ready for next week, Farley said.

Reeths-Puffer generated 264 yards of total offense, rushing for 130 yards and 134 yards through the air. The Rockets picked up 12 first downs.

Grand Haven finished with 289 total yards of offense, which included 156 through the air and 133 rushing yards. They managed to pick up 17 first downs.

Offensively, the Buccaneers were led by Rodriguez, a sophomore, who completed 11-of-17 passes for 156 yards. Rodriguez tossed one touchdown and was picked off once. He also was the leading rusher for Grand Haven with 72 yards on 19 carries.

Sophomore Will Koernstra led the Buccaneers in receiving with four catches for 73 yards and a touchdown.

Senior Bode Wilson led the Grand Haven defense with 11 tackles while senior Josh McManus chipped in with 6.

Reeths-Puffer will be back in action Thursday, Sept. 1 as it travels to St. Johns.

Grand Haven will be at home next Thursday against Traverse City West.

Check out photos shot by Reeths-Puffer photographer, Joe Lane.