October 23, 2014

Spartan gridders look to get over hump

By Jerry Kent|Sports Editor
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PINCONNING – At first glance, last year’s 3-6 record for the Pinconning High School football team indicates the Spartans had a bad season.

But upon closer inspection they really didn’t, as seven of the Spartans nine opponents were playoff qualifiers.

This year’s schedule isn’t any easier, but Spartans’ head coach Chip Kleinhans remains optimistic that his team can chalk up a few more wins.

“I told the kids we went 3-6 last year and we played a lot of playoff teams,” Kleinhans said. “We have to figure out a way to win six, make the tournament and make some noise.”

Figuring out his starting lineup comes first and Kleinhans has some key veterans back in the fold, making the process a little bit easier.

Three returnees charged with providing the Spartans with leadership are senior tri-captains Lucas Foco, Tyler Espitia and David Paulik.

Foco is entering his third year on the varsity, and standing 6-feet, 6 inches and weighing 220 pounds, he presents a multi-threat for opposing defenses running and catching the ball. He also plays safety on defense.

“Lucas is a big weapon for us,” Kleinhans said. “He’s a great athlete and we need to get him the ball as often as possible.”

Espitia was a second team all-Northeast Michigan Conference defensive back last year and will also see action at running back and wide receiver.

Paulik lines up at tight end on offense and linebacker on defense. He may also see some action at quarterback, where newcomer Casey Pashak, a standout player on the Spartans baseball team, is getting a look.

Other seniors back in the lineup include Tom Birkett, Chad Pawelski, Travis Garbulinski, John Komwinski, Chris Komwinski and Bucky Hine.

Birkett plays both ways along the line, Pawelski is a the center on offense and plays tackle on defense, Garbulinski is a tight end and linebacker, John Komwinski is a linebacker and offensive guard, Chris Komwinski plays cornerback, and Hine lines up at guard on offense and at tackle on defense.

Offensively, Kleinhans said the line is a work in progress. “We lost two big tackles from last year. Two offensive linemen are back, and two others were backups last year.”

Defensively, the secondary appears to be a strong point. “The secondary is looking real good,” Kleinhans said. “Our strength right now is our secondary.”

The Spartans open the season Friday, Aug. 28 by hosting Essexville Garber beginning at 7 p.m.

“We have a tough schedule and we hope to get off right against Garber,” Kleinhans said.

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