HASLETT — Things got off to a bad start for the Pinckney football team eight hours before kickoff on Friday, when coach Rod Beaton was told that running back Bryce White would not be available due to emergency surgery.
It went downhill from there on a rainy night at Haslett High School, a game plagued by mistake, penalties, and ending in a 28-7 loss in a Division 3 pre-district loss to Haslett.
The Pirates were also hampered by injuries to Caleb Wardlow, their leading receiver, who served as a decoy for most of the night, catching one pass for 11 yards. Seven more players had to leave the game due to injuries.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a game where I lost seven starters during the game,” coach Rod Beaton said.
Quarterback Jimmy Bona did his best, rushing for a team-high 54 yards and throwing for 119 more, including a 64-yard completion to Colin Smith late in the game to set up the PIrates’ only touchdown.
By then, it was too late. The injuries, plus nine penalties for 100 yards, and a swarming Haslett defense were too much to overcome.
“Our kids fought to the end,” Beaton said. “But at the end of the day, we just didn’t get it done. We turned the ball over a couple of times in the red zone. We had some uncharacteristic penalties, and you just can’t do that at this time of year. You just can’t.”
Haslett, which didn’t complete a pass, made up for it with 298 yards on the ground. Sophomore runing back Nakal Amachree rushed for 120 yards and two touchdowns, while quarterback Isaac Pavona rushed for 98 yards and another score.
“They executed when they needed to execute,” Beaton said. “They made plays. They took care of the football and ground it out, and that made the difference.”
Haslett (8-2) scored in each quarter, taking the lead for good on its first possession on an eight-play, 80-yard drive that was helped by a 15-yard penalty against the Pirates and ended on an 18-yard run by Amachree.
The Vikings led 28-0 in the fourth quarter when Bona found Smith for that 64-yard gain, which led to Aiden Schingeck scoring three plays later.
“We made some mistakes early, and some of them killed us,” tackle Alex Olenik said. “Playoff football is about executing, and we struggled with that tonight.”
The Pirates finished 6-4. Haslett will play at Mason for the district championship next weekend.
“The hard part, as a coach, is you want answers for your kids,” Beaton said. “There are no answers at this point. There’s no words to console them, there are no words to make them feel better. You tell them you care about them, you appreciate them, and that you love them. That’s what you do.”
The Pirates will gather to turn in equipment next week, then have their team banquet before passing into the history books.
“I’m going to miss a lot of things,” Bona said, “but hanging out with them at the field, I’m going to miss that.”
Olenik, who was pressed into punting duty after Lucas Pasternak was injured, was asked about his thoughts as the season slipped away in the final minutes.
“I think the last minutes were what I was thinking at the beginning,” he said. “I was thinking this has the potential to be my last high school game, and I”m going to leave everything on the field. I have no regrets about this game.
“A lot of things went wrong. It’s really tough. This is definitely not the way we wanted to go out.”