Pirates put unbeaten record on the line tonight — with broadcast link

Jakob Gailitis, in red shirt, holds up a play during practice last August. He resigned as coach after five seasons on Monday. (Photo by Tim Robinson)
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PINCKNEY — It’s a confident bunch of Pinckney Pirates who will begin the meat of their schedule tonight at home against Livonia Franklin.

They’ve won six games in a row, winning the last four games last season and the first two of 2016.

“Things have been rolling since the first game,” senior Dolyn Meinecke said. “We went into the first game having a good feeling about ourselves, and that boosted our confidence even more.”

Franklin (1-1) employs an old offense, the Wing-T, with a twist. Rather than the quarterback taking the snap behind center and faking handoffs to as many as three running backs, the Patriots run the Wing-T out of the shotgun.

“They have three good running backs,” Pinckney coach Jakob Gailitis said. “They’ll load up the Wing-T out of the shotgun. They’ve got three good backs. They’re tough, physical and fast, and we’ll have to play assignment-smart football. It’s going to be a great game, a great test for us.”

The game will be broadcast on The Livingston Post, starting at 6:50 p.m.

Gailitis is expecting a physical performance from a team that reached the Divison 2 semifinals last season.

“We have to play assignment-smart football” on defense, Gailitis said. “They do a lot of fakes, a lot of quarterback riding the jet outside or taking the veer inside, so everyones got to play their role and once we figure out where the football is, we’ve got to fly to the ball and get there.”

Franklin likes to rely on its running attack; Gailitis said the Patriots have thrown the ball only 18 times this season, a relatively small number in the age of pass-happy offenses.

But, as the Pinckney coaching staff has emphasized since the beginning of winter workouts, a fast start is among the Pirates’ top priorities.

We have to have a fast start and get up early and get the momentum on our side.,” Gailitis said. “It’s a lot easier to play when you’re ahead than when you’re down.  We don’t have to score, but get the field position battle turned our way. Things like that.”

The Pirates have gotten off to fast starts in both of their games this season, with junior quarterback Jack Wurzer, who threw for 235 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 70 more in last week’s 30-7 win at South Lyon East.

“He’s doing great,” Meinecke said as Wurzer stood next him with an embarrassed grin. “I’ve been dying for the ball, and he’s already thrown me the ball more times than I had catches last year. I love it.”

The numbers explain Reinecke’s love; he had five catches for 101 yards and two TDs last week.

But the Pirates’ defense has been strong, too, putting the offense in good position with turnovers and overall good play.

“We’ve been doing great,” Wurzer said. “Our defense is getting us good field position. We just have to move the ball and score touchdowns.”

Gailitis is looking forward to tonight’s contest.

I think (Franklin) is the best team we’ve played yet, but it starts a big run for us,” he said. “It’s Franklin, (Brighton), Howell, Hartland and Grand Blanc, and Milford has been playing well. It’s the start of a big run for us. For us to win, we have to play four quarters, and we’ll have to play four quarters on Friday night.”