Clare, Gladwin Battle for First Place in Jack Pine Conference in Game of the Week
CLARE – Clare and Gladwin are the only teams with perfect records in the Jack Pine Conference and they battle for sole control of first place on Friday night in the Sports Overtime Game of the Week.
The pair have dubbed this week’s showdown as their biggest game of the year, with the winner putting themselves in the best position to win a conference title.
“This is what everyone wants to see. They want this matchup right now, and this is the conference championship. It’s the most important game for most of us and for seniors, it’s our last regular season home game ever,” said Clare senior Al Warner.
The Pioneers enter this game at 4-2 overall and look to rebound after a tough one-point loss to Marquette, their second loss of the year. For Clare, Friday night’s game is an opportunity to get back on track as playoffs near.
“We still wanna make the playoffs obviously and we’re still getting points from those teams but those are the kind of games that get you ready. We’ve been waiting for this. We’ve wanted to take care of business and we’ll see what happens,” said Clare head football coach Kelly Luplow.
Gladwin is undefeated at 6-0, boasting an offense that averages 61 points per game and a defense that has allowed only 3 points per contest. But the Flying G’s haven’t defeated Clare since 1981.
“That was like 20 years before I was even born, so definitely I think it’s time to change that,” said Gladwin junior Earl Esiline. “I’m feeling pretty confident, as long as we come in, do all our jobs and continue to just dominate on offense and defense either way. Nobody’s scored on us in the Jack Pine yet. Continue to do that hopefully against Clare. Even if they score once or twice that’s fine, as long as we get the win.”
This game is especially meaningful to Gladwin head coach Marc Jarstfer, an alum of Clare High School and former coach with the program for 12 years.
“It’s definitely more than just another game. This game is always special for me coaching against guys that were my mentors and you know, great friends for a long time, still are great friends. And so yeah, that always adds to the element of it, for sure,” said Jarstfer.
Tune in for pregame coverage starting at 6 p.m. Friday night and stick around for highlights and postgame sound from the winner on Sports Overtime at 11 p.m.