Adams filed this report from the Harbor Beach-Sandusky game Friday night.
SANDUSKY — Harbor Beach didn’t win any style points, but it did clinch a share of the Greater Thumb East title.
Despite missing out on some scoring chances, the Pirates kept their record perfect, defeating Sandusky 26-12 on Friday night.
Coach Troy Schelke has been searching for a complete game from his team all season. He didn’t find it Friday night.
“I’m concerned about it just because I want us to reach our potential,” he said. “It certainly gives us something to strive for. We know we can get better. I think we’re good, but we definitely can get better.”
Once again, the defense was up to the challenge. It contained the dangerous quarterback-receiver duo of Justin Mills and Brandon Tucker for most of the night.
Mills did complete 17-of-37 attempts for 191 yards, but was picked off five times, including a pair by Tom Sutherland.
Sutherland’s second interception sealed the game for the Pirates, leading to an Eli Kraft to Averey Wehner 33-yard touchdown to make it 26-6 late in the third quarter.
“Tom Sutherland is one of the nicest young men you will ever meet. He works his tail off,” Schelke said. “He’s been on varsity for three years, so he was here during some tough times. He’s a true team player and a true leader. I couldn’t be happier for him.”
Harbor Beach took a 6-0 lead with 7:05 left in the first quarter after Sloan Klaski got loose for a 32 yard run.
Just before the half, Klaski flew over the pile for a 1-yard TD to make it 12-0.
Klaski followed up last week’s effort with another solid performance, rushing for 138 yards on 24 carries with the two scores.
Despite the halftime lead, Schelke felt it should have been more. The Pirates had the ball in the red zone three times and failed to score.
“We missed a couple of opportunities in the first half, we have to finish those,” he said.
Midway through the third, the Redskins cut the lead in half after Mills hooked up with Tucker for a 3-yard score.
Harbor Beach made it 18-6 three minutes later after Derek Pfaff rumbled in from 19 yards.
Sandusky’s final TD came during its hurry-up offense in the fourth quarter. Mills found Tucker again on a dazzling 25-yard score.
“Sandusky has some playmakers,” Schelke said. “They’re certainly the best 4-3 team in our area.”
It was again a mix of Wing-T and spread for the Pirates which produced solid results. Pfaff added 72 yards on 14 totes, Kraft was 7-of-13 passing for 118 yards while Wehner led the team with three catches for 63 yards.
Klaski led the defense with 12 tackles.
Schelke reflected on how his team got to this point.
“We’ve played some really good teams, and none of the games have been easy,” he said.
“I think it’s big for the kids. I think it may be more special for the coaching staff. We know to win this league you have to beat good teams in this area. Our side is very strong, so we take a lot of pride in having a share, but we want it outright.”
Harbor Beach will hit the road to play Mayville to put the finishing touches on the GTE championship next Friday.
“It’s very important for us to get better this week and next week,” Schelke said. “We can’t take anything for granted.”