Reed City falls to Saginaw Swan Valley 29-14 in D5 state semifinal

The Reed City football team discusses its next play during a fourth quarter timeout. Pioneer photo/Maxwell Harden

GREENVILLE — Reed City ran out of answers in its Division 5 state semifinal football game against Saginaw Swan Valley, losing 29-14 to the Vikings on a rain-soaked Saturday afternoon at Greenville High School.

The Coyotes kept pace with the Vikings for most of  the game, but a 3-yard touchdown run by Swan Valley’s Chase Mendoza midway through the fourth quarter and a turnover on downs by the Coyotes with 4:24 remaining left them a step away from their first-ever trip to Ford Field.

“Our players represented our school and community very well,” head coach Monty Price said. “It’s more about celebrating the journey than the sorrow of defeat. It was amazing season; our kids worked really hard. They earned everything we achieved. We’ve got nothing to hang our head about. Swan Valley is a very solid team. Hats off to them, they played better today and deserved to win.

Reed City (11-2) cut Swan Valley’s lead to one (15-14) when Philip Jones found the end zone for a touchdown and Jackson Price scored the two-point conversion midway through the third quarter. But penalties and turnovers — two things Reed City has largely avoided this season — played a significant role in the Coyotes’ inability to find the end zone late.

The Coyotes fumbled twice in the second half. The first was recovered by the Vikings and was essentially negated a few plays later when Price intercepted an Alex Fries pass in the end zone to give the ball back to the offense. The second fumble happened on the ensuing drive with Reed City driving trying to tie the game with 9:35 remaining. The Vikings recovered at their own 40-yard line, which led to Mendoza’s game-sealing touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

“The turnovers kill you,” Price said. “We got the pick in the end zone and were moving the ball, we crossed midfield and had a turnover. You can’t win big games like this when you turn the ball over and we had penalties in the first half that hurt us. It’s stuff we haven’t done all year.

“We’ve preached it and preached it and it came back to get us today, but it’s kids trying to make plays. I love them, regardless.”

Jones led the Coyotes in rushing with 108 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown, while Zach Wirgau had 10 carries for 79 yards. Price had five carries for 57 yards, including a 60-yard touchdown run for Reed City’s first score of the game. Price also completed one pass to Jones for nine yards and had an interception on defense. Jeffery Phenix led the defense with nine tackles.

Running back Emmet Boehler led Swan Valley with 24 carries for 125 yards and a first quarter touchdown. Mendoza had 14 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown while Terryon Liddell tallied 60 yards on 12 carries. Matt Pike also had a touchdown run. Swan Valley moves on to face three-time defending champion Grand Rapids West Catholic in the state final next week at Ford Field.

The loss is an unfortunate end to what has been a stellar run for Reed City’s seniors.  A semifinal run, two straight district titles, seven straight conference titles, and eight straight playoff appearances are a few of the milestones this group has helped the team reach this season.

“It speaks for itself,” Price said. “The most important thing about this group of seniors is they’re a great group of kids. Not one of these kids complained. They really supported each other and trusted each other.

“We’re hoping we can build on the success they’ve helped us reach.”

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