Pinckney football coach Jakob Gailitis is always upbeat, but he was especially enthusiastic Thursday night talking about a player who might be on the field for only a few plays tonight at Hartland High School.
The player is Kolton Pavlicek, who tore an ACL at the end of last winter’s basketball season and vowed to return before the end of the football season.
‘He could have felt sorry for himself,” Gailitis said. “There was a week where he did, but he picked himself up and said, ‘I’m coming back, coach.’ I honestly thought he wouldn’t be back for football season, but he came in every day and worked. We’re so excited and pumped to have him back.”
The Pirates and Eagles will have plenty at stake tonight when they meet for the final time as KLAA members. It’s a game that will be broadcast on The Livingston Post beginning at 6:50 p.m.
Pinckney (3-2) and Hartland (1-4) are both 1-1 in the KLAA West, and over the years, not including last year’s 52-14 Hartland blowout, the Pirates and Eagles have had some spirited games, some down to the last play.
“You always throw the records out in the West,” Gailitis said. “They’ve had a very difficult start to the year. … They’re no jokes. They’re a good football team. The record doesn’t tell you the whole story of their season. Our work is cut out for us.”
It’s homecoming night for a Hartland team that got its first win last week, a 48-28 decision over Milford. Unlike many coaches, Hartland’s Brian Savage isn’t worried about the activities surrounding homecoming.
“Our guys roll with the punches,” he said. “I think a couple of them coached in the powder-puff (football) game, and they’ve been showing up in Hawaiian shirts or cowboy hats, or whatever the theme of the day is. But they understand that Friday is their big night. That’s what they’re looking forward to.”
Both offenses have been evolving this season. The Eagles had two 100-yard rushers and gained more than 300 yards as a team last week, while Pinckney’s attack is beginning to coalesce around junior quarterback Jack Wurzer.
“It’s really starting to come together,” Gailitis said. “Wurzer has been phenomenal. He takes everything in stride. He’s not a high or low guy. He doesn’t get too high on the big ones or too low on the bad plays. He keeps things in front of him and tries to get the ball to our playmakers and not try to win on his own. Which is half the battle at quarterback.”
Heavy rain Wednesday night and Thursday might also affect the grass field at Hartland, but Savage was uncertain if a wet field might affect things.
“I don’t know,” he said. “You’d like to think so. We’ll see. … We’ll take every advantage you can get.”
It might be the last game the teams play for a while, but Gailitis is looking forward to another trip to Hartland.
‘The thing that makes it fun is that they’re well coached and they’re good people, and that adds to it,” he said of the Eagles. “You know you have to bring your A game and that’s what makes high school football so fun, especially in this conference. You can’t take a play off. Sometimes you can’t take a breath off, and that’s what makes this so much fun.”