GREENVILLE – It was going to be a difficult task for the Greenville Yellow Jackets varsity football team to duplicate the success of 2010 this past season.
The Yellow Jackets followed a 9-2 season with a 4-5 record in 2011. The record can mostly be attributed the youth and inexperience of the team. They returned just a handful of starters from the year prior.
“The win total is not what you want, but it never is,” Greenville coach Dave Moore said. “We were a young team and I thought we came a long way. I think that is the important thing.”
Despite the inexperience Moore did not consider it a rebuilding year.
“I don’t know if rebuilding is the right word,” he said. “We certainly want to compete every year. Our goal is to make the playoffs and we didn’t make that this year. Our goals still remain the same.”
Three teams from the O-K White Conference made the postseason and two of them – Lowell and East Grand Rapids – will play in the state semifinals this weekend.
The Yellow Jackets were able to score points (32.2 points per game), struggled to stop the opposing teams (34.2 ppg) as well.
“We moved the ball on everybody except maybe one game,” Moore said. “I was pretty happy with that all year long.”
Moore acknowledged his team struggled defensively at times, but also noted the high level of competition in the O-K White.
“I think the best thing is the effort our kids gave all year long,” Moore said. “They gave everything they had and that is the important thing.”
Inexperience is especially tough to have on defense. Moore said there are two things that affect a young defense.
“One, it’s the speed of the game. It is so much different as you get older and you have to adjust as you go along,” Moore said. “Two, as you get more experience you see more things and fewer things fool you. You become better at reading the plays other teams are doing.”
The Yellow Jackets will return their starting quarterback next year. Junior Curtis Heppe spent the entire season under center. It was the first time since 2005 a junior started at quarterback for the Yellow Jackets.
“We threw for over 1,000 yards this year. I think that is pretty difficult to do,” Moore said. “I think Curtis got better as the year went on. His leadership is going to continue to get better and that is what you’re looking for.”
The Yellow Jackets will return a good number of players, but Moore said they will lose some leadership. Greenville will lose Chris Mickey, Colton Boehm, Ryan Culey, Zach Hoover and Jordan Powell to graduation.
“We lose some good leadership from this team, a few kids that play all the time for us and did a great job,” he said. “They will be hard to replace and they always are. Our juniors will have to step up and learn how to lead. Hopefully, they learned some lessons this year.”
The Greenville junior varsity team finished the year 5-4 and the freshman team went 7-2 this year.
The Yellow Jackets will switch conference divisions next year. They will move from the O-K White to the newly created O-K Bronze. They will compete with Cedar Springs, Forest Hills Eastern, Forest Hills Northern, Northview and Grand Rapids West Catholic.
“It’s exciting because we get to play some different teams. Sad because we lose some of teams we’ve been playing for a long time,” Moore said. “We will create some new rivalries. Playing Cedar is an important one. It’s a nice rivalry and should be. We are so close together.”