Montcalm – The good thing about youth is it often doesn’t know any better.
Maybe that’s why the Generals of Montcalm are off to their best start in school history.
A Sept. 9 win at Paden City secured a 3-0 start, setting a new program record for consecutive wins to start a season, one extended last Friday when the Generals pulled off a 12-6 win against Craig County, Va. It’s the first time the Generals have won four games in a season since 2017, but the start has the upstarts thinking of something much more.
Adam Havens, the head coach at Montcalm was a senior on the last team that found major success and the similarities are noticeable.
“In 2005 we started out 2-1 and I think we won our next three and that translated into the best record in school history as we finished 8-2. I was a senior that year.” Havens said. “There are a lot of similarities you can point to there between those two teams. We’re very balanced in the number of skill guys versus the number of linemen we have. On that team we were pretty balanced in those numbers. In times since, we’ve had years where we’ve had a lot of skills guys and not so many linemen type players – thicker, stronger guys. This year we have both and it’s translated into success. Also another comparison I can make is our experience. On that 2005 team. lot of us played together in little league and kind of grew with each other. This group, they’ve been together since they were five and six and their chemistry is pretty incredible, even to be so young.”
The trust and chemistry between the young Generals has been key in their early success, making up for the lack of experience. Fielding a roster of 26 players, none of them are seniors so any advantages are welcome.
“I think team chemistry has played a big factor,” Havens said. “The fact that they know each other, they can rely on each other and carry each other. It’s been a different kid stepping up each week. The first couple of weeks we relied on our quarterback’s arm and our receivers to get us where we needed to be. The last couple of games we’ve been real run heavy but the consistent part in all of that is our defensive play. We’ve been very consistent defensively and that has contributed to our success as well. This group is hard-nosed, physical and they love to get after each other in practice and they take that into the game on Friday and it’s translated well.”
That chemistry has been on display between sophomore quarterback Jaylen Younger and his second-leaidng receiver Logan Carver. Younger has tossed nine touchdowns, tying for the area lead while Carver has hauled in 11 passes for 125 yards and four touchdowns.
“I wouldn’t say it’s easier but it’s made us more comfortable,” Carver said of the chemistry and familiarity.”The competition is still good but we’re definitely more comfortable.”
“We’re definitely more comfortable with each other,” Younger added. “We’ve played together since youth league at a young age.”
Moving forward and changing the perception of the program has been a goal of the young Generals. Taking their lumps in years past and growing up seeing the Generals struggle has provided perspective. Often, handling success can be as challenging as handling failure but remembering where they’ve been has helped the group remain focused.
“It’s easier to stay humble because we’ve never had this,” Younger said. “We’ve never started 4-0 and there’s a chance we lose every game we play. All these other games, we thought we might lose. We just believe in each other now though.”
The success has also ramped up the excitement. It’s bringing out the best in the players and with the increased numbers – the Generals have had three extra players join the team since the preseason – Havens has been able to play players exclusively on offense and defense which increases the productivity of practice reps.
“I think with this group winning has kind of started to grow the competition in practice,”Havens said. “We do have juniors that understand what kind of track we’re on and they’ve kind of helped to steer the underclassmen to keep practice under control and keep the egos in check. We push it towards competing in practice and focusing on that opponent and the gameplan. We’re playing one-game seasons every week and we’ve done a great job of keeping that focus.”
“We have kids that solely play offense and some defense. That helps keep practices competitive because you keep those kids on their side of the ball and you’ve got starters going against starters which is something you don’t normally have and that’s increased our ability to grow as the season progresses.”
Now that the Generals have tasted success they’re raising their expectations. There’s already banter with Havens that they want to top the record established his senior year and make the playoffs for the first time in school history.
“I really want to beat that record and go undefeated the rest of the year,” Younger said.
“I want to have a home playoff game,” Carver added.
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