CARSON CITY – Carson City-Crystal’s football team didn’t have the season they were expecting this year.
The Eagles followed last year’s 3-6 record with a 1-8 slate this season, losing all but their last game of the season. The Eagles beat Potterville to salvage a win.
But coach Jason Gray said the season was noteworthy.
“We had four games that we call ‘swing games’ in which if we get a break in each of those four games than we are looking at having four or five wins this year as opposed to one,” Gray said. “We were consistent on offense all year as we scored the most amount of points since 1999 and 3rd highest in school history. Obviously, we did not play as well on defense as we needed to. Many times we were in position to make big plays and we just did not execute and take advantage.”
Gray wouldn’t put all the blame on the defense, noting the Central Michigan Athletic Conference is a tough conference to play in.
“We compete in the best class C/D league in the entire state of Michigan and to be able to be as competitive as we were says a lot about our program,” he said. “It was a matter of fact that we play great teams for nine games and we just did not make enough big plays on defense to allow us to win.”
Gray said the challenge was to grow as a program, and they did.
“It is easy sometimes for people that face adversity and disappointment to lose focus and not remember the big picture of what winning is all about,” he said. “‘Win Forever’ is not about the scoreboard on Thursday or Friday nights. It is about learning to compete with yourself and against other people to be the best you can be and our coaches and players have lived up to that standard.”
Gray noted the accomplishments of his sophomore running back, Robert Failing, and quarterback Logan Forist.
Failing “was moved up from the JV team during the pre-season practices and Robert made an immediate impact for our team,” Gray said. “He was one of our leading rushers and best coverage defender. Robert had the best running ability with the football and is able to make great reads on his blocks. He has great cut-ability to make defenders miss tackles.”
Forist “played a running back spot last year so he had a large learning curve as a QB in a top-notch conference,” Gray said. “He works hard at doing the little things right and we are excited about having a returning QB next year with 9 games of experience. Logan has great arm strength and good running ability. He is going be a big impact player next year.”
But the “top-notch conference” that is the CMAC won’t be in the Eagles’ plans next year. They will move to the Mid-State Activities Conference South Division next year, and Gray is looking forward to the challenge.
“The MSAC is a very good conference,” he said. “What we are looking forward to is the proximity of some of the teams and being able to schedule some non-league games. We feel confident that we will have an opportunity to win a lot of games, but it is the same situation as the CMAC; we have to prepare well all off-season by running a top-notch strength training and speed training program and we have to become great learners of the game.”
And Gray is optimistic about the 2012 season.
“We return 8 starters on offense and 8 starters on defense,” he said. “We expect to compete for the MSAC title and having as much experience coming back as we do will certainly work to our advantage. We played this season with a majority of sophomores and juniors and were very competitive in most of the games. We are ready to take that turn and start winning the close games.”