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Close Friends Jarstfer, Spranger Prepare to Battle When Clare Meets Gladwin

Gladwin football put together a dominant, undefeated regular season in 2021 that included a 48-42 victory over Clare.

But when the playoffs came around, Clare got its revenge in the district opener. The Pioneers ended Gladwin’s perfect season with a 32-12 win.

It’s a new season, but last year’s results have intensified the Jack Pine rivalry.

Steven Spranger is the new head coach of the Pioneers after Kelly Luplow retired at the end of his 34th season on the Clare sideline. On the Gladwin sideline is Marc Jarstfer, a good friend of Spranger’s.

“Coach Spranger and I actually used to play on the same team together in high school,” Jarstfer said. “We coached together for a long time [at Clare], where he was the JV defensive coordinator and I was the JV head coach. We lived three or four houses down from each other.”

The two have been neighbors, stood up in each other’s weddings and talk every day. But with a matchup against each other looming on Friday night, the conversations stray away from the game of football this week.

“We’re constantly in contact with one another and just kind of bouncing ideas off one another,” Spranger said. “But this week the ideas communication kind of falls off and we just talk about the random things that go on in life.”

The two will take opposing sidelines as Gladwin hosts Clare in our Sports Overtime’s Game of the Week. The game kicks off at 7 p.m.

“We’re excited to play one another on Friday and our friendship is looking forward to this game being over,” Spranger said.