Mustangs continue playoff preparation

By Bruce Bentley • Last Updated 1:01 pm on Friday, October 28, 2011

Montabella’s Derek Martin kicks off during a drill in Wednesday’s practice.

BLANCHARD —  The Montabella Mustangs football team qualified for the postseason for the third time in four years this season.
In 2008, the Mustangs traveled to St. Louis and Saugatuck for games. In 2009, they made the northeast trip to Whittemore-Prescott for a game. This year the Mustangs head southeast to face the Burton Bendle Tigers near Flint.
“The playoff draw was a pretty big surprise. We did not think we would go that far south,” Montabella coach David Clay said. “We were thinking more east toward Saginaw or even toward the Grand Rapids area.
“Their coach sounded just as surprised. We hadn’t exchange emails or contact info so we have had to scramble a little,” he added.
The Mustangs wrapped up an outstanding year with a 40-7 victory over St. Louis to finish the year with a school record eight wins. Unfortunately, eight wins wasn’t enough for the Mustangs to earn a home playoff game.
“You do what you can to host and we won eight games,” Clay said. “Burton earned it with more points. We are not going to be bitter in that sense. Anytime you have eight wins you want to host a game, but there is a system, rules and that’s what happened.”
While most first round playoff games take place Friday night the Mustangs and the Tigers will meet Saturday at 1 p.m. That will give both teams an extra day of practice.
Clay is hoping his team can carry over the regular season momentum into the playoffs.
“I really felt Friday was the best football game I’ve seen Montabella play,” Clay said. “I felt in the four years I’ve been here it was definitely the best since I’ve been here. I’ve talked to other community members and they felt is went further back than that.
“You want to be playing your best football at the end of the year and take it up a notch. That’s what I challenged them to do is raise it up a notch,” he added.
Dating to last season the Mustangs have won 12 of their last 13 games, including five straight to end the season. Burton Bendle is just as hot, having won 10 of 13 games, including eight straight to end the year.
At practice this week the Mustangs look to fine tune their play and maybe add a few wrinkles.
“We always add a few wrinkles each week specific for opponents,” Clay said. “We go over the film with a fine toothed comb and we try to locate matchups that we think will work. Mostly, we want to do what we do.
“We have been running the ball well the last two weeks. I think there is some room there and we have relied on our passing game in a pinch and as regular game strategy,” he added.
This will be the first Saturday game of the season for Montabella. The plan is to leave at 8 a.m. following breakfast and take their time getting to Burton. From there they will go through their normal pregame routine prior to kickoff.
The winner will face the winner of Coleman (7-2) and Saginaw Nouvel (8-0) in the district final.

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