Football: Pioneers not satisfied with just making the postseason

Who says dreams don’t come true in the classroom?

The Pioneer football team gathered in Coach Bill Bellers classroom on Sunday evening to watch the High School Football Playoff Selection Show and the Pioneers graded well enough at 5-4 to qualify for the postseason. The team certainly was thrilled to receive a passing grade.

“It was just the coaches and the team and we got some pizza and watched the show together,” Bellers said. “The kids were obviously really excited when they saw our name come up on the screen.

“It really means a lot for the seniors. It’s their first winning season here on varsity. And making the playoffs in football is a pretty big thing. It’s not like in other sports where everyone gets in. You have to earn it in football. And I think that makes it extra special.”

The news didn’t come as a surprise, despite not getting to six wins this season.

“We crunched the numbers multiples times and we were confident we were going to get in,” said Bellers, now in his third year as head varsity coach at Pioneer.

Turns out a record 54 schools with the highest playoff averages were added to fill out the field of 256 teams. Schools were then put in order by enrollment with the largest placed in Division 1 and the next 32 in Division 2 until eight divisions were created. Only 202 schools won six or more games this past season so teams with five wins had to fill the other 54 spots.

Each District features four teams and each Region has eight teams. Teams in each District are ranked by playoff point average. The team with the highest playoff average will host the first three weeks.

The reward for making the playoffs is a trip to Brownstown where the Pioneers will face undefeated Woodhaven. The Warriors finished the season at 8-0 including an impressive win last week over Birmingham Groves. Woodhaven won its league and defeated five playoff teams on its road to the postseason.

“They are obviously really good,” Bellers said. “We’ve actually scrimmaged against them the last three years and we know they love to run the ball. We know a little bit about them. They are the number one team in the District and it’s going to be a big challenge for us.”

But Pioneer doesn’t back down from a challenge.

The Pioneers come into Friday’s game (7 p.m.) with some bumps and bruises but overall they are healthy and ready to roll.

“We want to go win a game,” Bellers says. “Nothing changes. We approach this just like any other week and prepare the same way and try to go out and win a football game on Friday. If we win, we get to do it again.”

Making the playoffs also gives the program another week of practice. It helps build confidence and creates a winning culture. The Pioneers are on their way – and not just to Woodhaven.