Back Row: Coach Nick Swiger, Coach Brian Mumby, Michael Jones, Dylan Eickenroth, Tom Miller, Devin Ruppert, Maveric Martin, Ethan Whitley, Tyler Lewis, Tyler McCurry, Josh Jackson, Brayd Loop, Coach Josh Rees, Coach Chad Phillips
Third Row: Chase Morrison, Greg Park, Adam Langworthy, Luas Sizemore, Jeffrey Gross, Mitchell McDonald, Brandon Newville, Lewis Wright
Second Row: Matt Goodenow, Josh Hooker, Tyler WIng, John Sikes, Cason Rawson, Brandon Fulks, Nick Truax, Mac Oliver
Front Row: Alex Knapp, James Harvey, Nathan Park, Dakota Wieczorek, Dylan Loop, Devin Houck
Not pictured: Skyler Nelson and Coach Bobby Crouch
The motto for the 2012 Bucks team was “still in the fight.” The motto was borrowed from an unreleased film about wounded veterans who were returning to American soil and taking life’s challenges head on. The Buck knew that they would have to adopt a similar mentality with only twenty players on the team. The Bucks dropped the opener to Kalkaska 14-28 in a game that was delayed mid-game for well over an hour due to lightening. They bounced back in week two though and beat Benzie Central by the score of 39-6. Sophomore Brandon Fulks lead the Bucks with 141 yards rushing on the night and Senior Devin Ruppert recorded 15 tackles to lead the defense. The Bucks then hit a rough stretch where they lost three games in a row to eventual playoff teams Manistee, Lake City, and Evart. Losing to Evart in the annual Armed Forces Game was a low point because all-conference quarterback Skyler Nelson was injured and lost for the season. Due to his injury and others, the JV season had to be cancelled so the varsity would have enough players to finish the season. The following week the Bucks traveled to Manton without their starting or backup quarterback. The Bucks were stopped several times in the Manton red zone and the Rangers managed to pull out the win. The following week, sophomore Mitchell McDonald returned from an injury and quarterbacked the Bucks to a homecoming win over Marion. It was the first Pine River homecoming win in four years. McDonald, an all-around great athlete, threw a touchdown pass, ran in two touchdowns, and stripped a Marion runner and ran that back for touchdown as well. He also kicked all four extra points in the 28-12 win. That was a sweet victory for the Bucks and unfortunately also their last. The Bucks lost in week seven to a very talented McBain squad and then finished with a loss to eventual division 8 runner up Beal City. The 2012 squad finished with a 2-7 record. The Bucks faced many challenges through the season but never gave up. They were always “still in the fight.” One bright spot was that third year inside linebacker Devin Ruppert broke the career tackle mark finishing with 283 tackles over three seasons. The 2012 season was the final year of Chad Phillips’ six year stint as the head coach of the Bucks. As of 2012, Coach Mike Bulger was still the coach with the longest tenure (7 years) at the helm of the Pine River Football program. Sadly, Coach Bulger passed away the spring prior to the 2012 season.