The 2019 regular season in high school football ends tonight, with all five Livingston County teams either working to get into the postseason (Hartland, Howell) or working to possibly get a home game in the playoffs with a win tonight (Brighton, Fowlerville, Pinckney).
Two of those teams, Pinckney and Fowlerville, meet tonight at Fowlerville.
The game will be broadcast on The Livingston Post starting at 6:45 p.m. Click here for the broadcast.
Both teams are 6-2 and have earned playoff spots. Each team’s playoff point average will determine its seeding in the playoffs next week. The more points, the higher the seeding. The top two teams in each first-round matchup will be home games, and after that, it goes to the team with the higher playoff point average.
But, Pinckney coach Rod Beaton says, tonight’s game is not all about jockeying for playoff positioning.
“There’s a tremendous amount of pride,” he said. “You can’t be happy about just getting in. It’s continuing to build, continuing to develop who we are and get this thing going.”
Both teams had very different outcomes last week. Pinckney rolled past a strong Jackson team, 49-12, in its home finale, while Fowlerville was beaten handily by Lansing Catholic 56-7.
Gladiators coach Jon Fletcher says his team is well past that loss.
“We take each week and start brand new and get ready for the next opponent,” he said. “Our guys have done a really good job of coming back this week focused and energized and hungry to get better. I like the way we’ve practiced this week. The’ve handled it well.”
Both teams have plenty of weapons on offense. For Pinckney, it’s quarterback Joe Bona and running back Sal Patierno, who has score a team-record 27 touchdowns this season.
“They’re an explosive defense,” Fletcher said of the Pirates. “They can throw the ball really well, but I’ve been impressed with how they run the ball.”
For Fowlerville, it’s quarterback Kyle Lutz and running back Hunter Knaggs. Both teams have featured tough, physical defenses.
“We have to be physical,” Beaton said. “They’re an extremely physical football team, and we’ve got to be ready for them.”
It’s the first meeting between the schools since 1996.
“We both had an opening in week 9 this year,” Fletcher said. “We talked about it and thought it would be a really good thing for both communities. We’re excited about it.”
“We’ve been talking about our last three games,” Beaton said. “With Dexter and Jackson and Fowlerville, this is playoff football. You’re playing playoff teams every night from here on out, and it doesn’t get any easier.”