Mustangs ready for playoff road battle

By Darrin Clark • Last Updated 1:24 pm on Friday, October 28, 2011

Receiver Jemikal Papendick (right) brushes away the attempted tackle of Dustin Couser during Wednesday’s practice.

BLANCHARD —  A 2010 season-ending four game winning streak set the wheels in motion for a record breaking Montabella Mustang football season in 2011.
Finishing 4-5 overall last year ended the Mustangs run of two straight playoff appearances and was the first missed postseason under coach David Clay. The losing record gave the Mustangs new motivation and dedication to return to the playoffs.
“I’m very proud of this team. This is a group of guys that a year ago decided 4-5 wasn’t good enough for them,” Clay said. “They started doing a weight and conditioning program last fall. They all did it on their own time and worked out this summer together.
“This is a direct product of their hard work in the offseason,” he added.
The Mustangs finished the regular season last Friday with an 8-1 record. The eight wins — with a starting lineup featuring freshman through seniors — set a school record.
“To have a group so diverse like this and come together to accomplish a goal like this says a lot about the type of kids we have and their work ethic,” Clay said.
In the playoffs for just the fourth time in school history, the Mustangs are looking to continue the momentum gained in the regular season. Their first round opponent is Burton Bentley (8-1) Saturday at 1 p.m.
“They are a lot like us. They’re not over powering in terms of size and strength,” Clay said. “They’re not real fancy offensively. They are an I-Formation team, but can throw in a few different formations. They throw and run the ball with a balance.
“It’s a real good matchup as far as strategy, the amount of athletes and what both teams try to do,” he added.
Clay said the X factor will be the offensive line.
“Our offensive line will have to dominate them for four quarters,” he said. “If we do that we will win the game. We have been able to establish a good ground game for the past two weeks, been disciplined and haven’t turned the ball over.”
Jeramee Gilman (Sr., T), Jeremy Quezada (Sr., G), Drew Nemeth (Jr., C), Tyler House (Fr., G), Travis Sabin (Sr., T) and Jonny Durham (Sr. TE) all understand the importance of their role against the Tigers.
“We have reinforced it every day this week. That I expect them to win the football game for us,” Clay said. “We discussed the quarterback, running back and receivers get their name in the papers, but this week it will come down to the them. They seem to have bought into that.”
Clay points to two instances that have defined the season. One, a loss to Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart and the other a win against Vestaburg.
“We felt we matched up well with them (MPSH) and that we lost that game ourselves, with our own errors.,” Clay said. “That was a coming together point where we have to be ready right off the bat to play football.
“The other was against Vestaburg. When we were down 21-0. Those kids got together and said we weren’t going to lose this game,” he added. “They bought in and we won in overtime. I think they realized the importance of playing four quarters. Since then we have been playing lights out.”
Montabella has at least four quarters of football remaining this season. A win Saturday and the Mustangs will face the winner of Coleman (7-2) and Saginaw Nouvel (8-0) in the district final.

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