Gladwin, Clare Set to Rematch in First Round of Districts for Game of the Week
GLADWIN – Jack Pine Conference foes Clare and undefeated Gladwin are paired up to face off in the first round of the district playoffs in Division 5 for a rematch of the week 7 Game of the Week at Gladwin High School.
The pair meet in the postseason for the first time ever and play for the second time this season.
“It’s the playoffs. It’s a brand new season. Everyone’s 0-0 in the playoffs, so I mean it’s one and done,” said Clare senior Al Warner.
Gladwin captured a share of its first Jack Pine Conference championship since 2002 with a 48-42 win over Clare in that regular season game on Oct. 8. They secured the outright conference title with a win over Beaverton the following week.
The Flying G’s led 14-7 after a quarter and 28-14 at the half en route to their second-ever Jack Pine title and first win over Clare since 1981. After that tough six-point loss, the Clare Pioneers are ready to get another shot at their rival.
“We’re pretty excited. I mean, we all kind of knew it was kind of gonna go that way and we’re looking at them in the playoffs. And I mean now I think we’re ready. We’re coming in with a different attitude this time, especially being the underdogs. I think we got that spark lit under us,” said Warner.
“We’re excited about it. There’s no question we are. I mean a conference team, a team that beat us, a team that pretty much dominated us for a lot of the game, that you know, our kids never quit. But, if we play the type of game that we’re capable of, it can be just a real exciting game again,” said Clare head football coach Kelly Luplow.
Clare is riding a two-game winning streak heading into this game, with its most recent win against Gaylord, 42-20. The win also marked the 250th career victory for Luplow.
Gladwin (9-0, 6-0) averaged 53 points per game this regular season, led by junior running back Logan Kokotovich who recently broke the school’s single-season touchdown record with 22 scores.
Clare (6-3, 5-1) averaged 42.77 points against its opponents in the regular season and will its sixth straight appearance in the postseason. The Pioneers will also look to capture their first district title since 2012.
Gladwin ended its regular season undefeated, going 9-0 for the first time since 1979. A win against Clare Friday night would be the first time a team had a 10-0 start in program history.
“It’s a big game. It’s first round. We just got to come out and put the foot on the gas the whole game, just like we did last game. Everyone’s excited, especially since we play them at home now in front of hopefully another big crowd,” said Kokotovich.
“They say it’s difficult to beat the same team twice, but at the end of the day, you know, nothing that we’ve done in the regular season matters going into the playoffs. So you have to keep winning if you want to keep playing. It’s going to be whoever shows up and plays the best and executes their game plan the best that’s gonna walk out of there with the win,” said Gladwin head football coach Marc Jarstfer.
The eighth-ranked Flying G’s make their second consecutive playoff appearance and are seeking their first district championship since 2000.
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.