STANTON — The Central Montcalm Green Hornets spent the morning on Tuesday pounding away at each other in live game situations.
After today, the Hornets are nine days away from opening up the 2012 regular season and just one day away from their final scrimmage of the preseason.
“They are about where we expected them to be,” Central Montcalm coach Marty James said. “We dodged the heavy rains on Friday and that put us behind a little. We weren’t able to accomplish some things.”
A recent focus has been timing. The live situations were a way to help with those timing issues.
“We’ve had some timing issues. It’s hard to simulate game speed so we try to put the kids in these live situations as often as we can to get the intensity of game speed,” James said. “If you don’t practice game speed then all of a sudden in a game you have timing issues.”
On Tuesday, both the varsity and junior varsity teams displayed plenty of intensity and focus, as each team rotated segments.
“Today was a good day. We had our Green/White game on Saturday and that was kind of our first live scrimmage,” James said. “Basically, this was our second live defensive set. I liked the intensity. We had some mistakes, but I liked the intensity.”
The Hornets — 5-4 a year ago — feature a mixture of experience on this year’s team.
“We have several young kids in key positions, but then we have a lot of kids coming back,” James said. “Most of our kids that are seniors will be significant contributors, at least at this point.”
Last year was the first time since 2006 the Hornets did not qualify for the playoffs, but they still finished with a winning record for the fifth consecutive season.
James said his seniors are providing the necessary leadership that can help the team return the postseason.
“Our upperclassman is providing good leadership,” he said. “We have some key players in key positions that we asked them to do some things that they have not done before. For the sake of the team they are embracing it.”
An example of that is from senior Will Plavin. Plavin finished out last season as the starting quarterback. This year Plavin is switching positions to make room for sophomore Keegan James under center. Plavin will play in the backfield and as a slot receiver.
“Will gives us a lot of opportunities to do other things with him,” James said. “He is a faster kid and he embraced it. He knows what we are trying to do is the best overall picture of the team. I appreciate that as a coach. That is special to embrace that and my hat is off to him.”
Keegan James is the son of James. His dad said he is ready for the position.
“He (James) has worked hard and has been playing quarterback since he was 10 years-old,” James said. “He is ready.”
The Hornets will scrimmage Thursday on the road against a couple of powerhouses in host Ithaca and Pewamo-Westphalia. Ithaca has won 20 straight games while capturing back-to-back Division 6 state titles. Pewamo went 13-1 last year, but lost to Saginaw Nouvel in the Division 7 state final. The Pirates have not had a losing season since 1995.
“We are excited about that because that is where we want to be,” James said of the scrimmage. “Both of those schools are close in size and have had great success. That’s where we want to be and we will find out real fast Thursday where we are.”
Central Montcalm opens the season on Aug. 24 at Chippewa Hills.