The good news for Montcalm was that it was able to get nine games in last season.
That was nearly twice as many as teams such as Wyoming East, Westside and James Monroe. Unfortunately for the Generals they stumbled to a 1-8 record, but that was still better than not playing at all.
This year head coach Adam Havens is hoping for better results and playing a full season last year has him optimistic that there’s an opportunity to build.
“I think this year is pretty unique for us,” Havens said. “We have a lot of returning players from last year’s team that were new in their roles last year and have gained significant game experience. And then we have some freshmen who have played a lot of football, not on the high school level, but they’ve played a lot and they’re very knowledgeable about the game. We have a great balance of skill players and linemen type players which is unfamiliar to us. Sometimes we have a lot years where we have lineman type players and not a lot of skill guys, or vise versa. This year we have a pretty unique balance that’s going to be beneficial for us.”
The struggle Havens noted isn’t unique to Class A schools, especially those as small as Montcalm, but this year is a little different. While he’d normally be working with anywhere from 15-17 players, he has more than usual out this year, allowing him to provide more rest for his players from down to down.
“Our numbers are really up this year for us,” Havens said. “We have 23 kids on the roster and we started with about 26. We feel like that’s what we’ll have going forward. The 23 that we have, we’re actually good with. Usually when you have smaller numbers you struggle with depth. We feel like we actually have maybe five kids that we’ll need to play both ways. And that’s huge for us. I think most years in the past all 11 kids played both ways but we only have five this year. It really helps you rest up and keep your energy up and keep us fresh. That’s something we worked hard on this offseason – making sure we all understand our roles in our positions. We really adopted a next man up philosophy in terms of if anybody needs a break, we have the depth to do that.”
Helping to ensure a more successful season is a cast of returning players on offense that Havens feels pretty comfortable with. It starts with Kevin Robertson who took over at quarterback last season and has spent the offseason honing his abilities.
“We return Kevin Robertson at quarterback,” Havens said. “He took over for us about mid way through last season. He was playing a running back/receiver type of position. He took over and played pretty well. He’s really accepted his role as a leader and as a quarterback and he worked his tail off this summer on his mechanics and his footwork and decision making. And then we have Devin Green who returns at wide receiver. He missed the last three or four games last year with a broken hand but we really look for him to have a breakout year offensively. Our starting tailback Noah White is back too.
“Up front we return one of our guards and one of our tackles. The guard is Riley Pertree and the tackle is Caleb Webb. Both of those guys have worked their tails off this summer in the weight room. They have tremendously changed the physique of their bodies. Their strength has improved and their overall skillset has gotten so much better.”
Defensively the Generals have several players returning at impact positions such as linebacker and safety.
“Defensively we have a sophomore that got some reps last year at middle linebacker in John Hall,” Havens said. “He worked hard to earn the spot at starting linebacker. Hunter Hart is a junior that returns for us and will also be an inside linebacker. We really look for big things out of both of those guys. One other player that’s a senior that’s played a huge role for us is Grayson Thomason. He’s kind of like a wing back and strong safety on defense. He’s just been super important to our program and is a key part in everything we do.”
With a group that provides more depth, Havens is hoping to see more balance. At times last year the Generals were forced to rely on the pass too often. Havens believes it will still be their bread and butter, but they’ll also be able to run the ball more effectively.
“We really felt like we played a tough schedule last year,” Havens said. “We felt coming into this year in our coaches meetings that we could be a little more balanced offensively. We put a lot on the arm of the quarterback and our receivers last year. We felt like this year with what we have coming back that we could be more balanced. We changed the playbook a little bit. We adopted the quality over quantity mindset as far as play calling goes. We’re going to try to be balanced but I think we’ll be more in the 60/40 range.”
Contact Tyler Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org, call him at 304-731-5542 and follow on Twitter @tjack94
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3 09/10/21 7:00PM H – PADEN CITY HIGH SCHOOL –
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5 09/24/21 OPEN –
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