PINCKNEY – For the second time in four years, Grand Blanc came to Pinckney’s homecoming, only to suffer a stunning defeat.
Four years ago, kicker Brianna Amat was named homecoming queen at halftime, then kicked the winning field goal in a 9-7 upset of the then-unbeaten Bobcats.
Friday, Grand Blanc was looking to get into a possible four-way tie for first in the KLAA West, only to run into a powerful Pinckney rushing attack and lose to the Pirates, 38-15.
For Pinckney fans who have watched the Pirates throw the ball for most of the four seasons Jakob Gailitis was coach, “powerful Pinckney rushing attack” was not a misprint.
The Pirates threw only five passes and rushed for 402 yards on 58 carries, both far and above their season highs in both categories.
Passing? Not much. The Pirates threw the ball just five times, with two completions (both for six yards), and an interception.
It was the first win of the season for the Pirates (1-5, overall, 1-3 KLAA West).
The switch from the spread to an offense Gailitis called “the Cliff Kiefer offense,” after the former Brighton coach who preferred to keep the ball on the ground, came from necessity.
Starting quarterback Brandon Leach injured an ankle in gym class early in the week and was unable to play, prompting the Pirates to try a ground attack against the Bobcats.
There wasn’t anything fancy about the Pirates, either, Gailitis said.
“We ran the same three plays most of the night,” he said. “We had some different formations, but we mostly ran those plays.”
Austin Staebler stepped in at quarterback and ran for 205 yards and three touchdowns in a contest the Pirates never trailed in.
Pinckney led 17-0 midway through the third quarter on Staebler’s second touchdown run when Grand Blanc finally broke through. Blake Bogan took a screen pass and ran 80 yards to get the Bobcats (4-2, 2-2) within 10.
But the Pirates came right back and scored on their next possession, ending on a 3-yard run by Rory Poszywak, and went up 31-7 on Staebler’s third score, a 10-yard run, near the midpoint of the fourth quarter.
Grand Blanc scored on a 2-yard pass reception by Chris Riley, who also got the 2-point conversion on a pass reception.
The Bobcats got the ball back on an interception, but Brandon Wiese got the ball back with an interception of his own, and Tyler Diehr sealed it on a touchdown with 1:33 remaining.
Diehr finished with 100 yards rushing and Poszywak 97. They, along with Staebler, were the only rushers for the Pirates.
“Last week (a 52-14 loss to Hartland) was an anomaly,” Gailitis said. “Our kids are so resilient and they responded so well. It’s a credit to the kids and the coaching staff. It’s something they can keep forever. They won their homecoming game against a good team. We out-physicaled them, and that’s always fun.
“Now, the focus is to win out and have fun,” he continued. “We can’t make the playoffs, but we can have fun.”