EDMORE – Before the season started, Montabella’s football team had only 18 players and coach David Clay was hoping injuries wouldn’t take a toll on his team.
How far the Mustangs have come.
Montabella finished the season 9-2 overall and was the only team in the area to go to the playoffs.
Not only that, but the Mustangs won their first playoff game in school history.
“There’s probably two things” that made the season so good, Clay said. “One, the leadership we got out of our seniors this year. All of our seniors bought into the offseason workout program. Second would be the optional offseason program that we put in, and how the kids went through all of that.”
Clay called the Vestaburg game the turning point in the season.
“When we were down 21-0 and we got on the bus at halftime, I said, ‘If you don’t think we’re going to win this game then get off the bus right now.’ Not one of them got off the bus and we came back and won the game in overtime. I don’t think they believed we were going to lose a game after that.”
The Mustangs didn’t, including winning the playoff game against Burton Bendle. But they lost to Saginaw Nouvel Catholic Central to end the season.
The stars of the team were quarterback Charles Helmer, wideout Jemikal Papendick and running back Derek Martin, but there were a couple of guys who Clay thought surprised him.
“The first one to come to mind would be Travis Dunn,” he said. “He’s always been a good player and a hard worker, but he came out of nowhere to become a very solid inside linebacker for us. He really was a key part of the inside of our defense.
“Another player who was an offensive lineman and really didn’t want to move up from JV to varsity was but said he would was Tyler House, a freshman. Once we kind of sold him on it, he worked hard and took over that position. and would up starting on offense and defense.He was on the field most of the game, and no doubt about it, he wound up helping our team.”
Clay said the future for Montabella football “looks pretty good.”
“We started a lot of young guys on varsity,” he said. “We got a lot of freshman some playing time late in the year, we had some sophomores starting on varsity. We’re losing some talented seniors, but I think we’ve got a young group of players that are eager to accept the challenge of the shoes they have to fill, and are going to work hard in the offseason to make sure they can fill those shoes.”