CARSON CITY — Friday’s game between Montabella and Carson City-Crystal will be the Eagles’ homecoming game, but it will be more than that for the two teams.
The Eagles will be looking to go 5-1 for the first time since 2004 with one game needed after that to make the playoffs for the first time since 1999. They also are looking to keep pace with Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart for the Mid-State Activities Conference South Division.
“It certainly feels great to be out to a 4-1 start,” CC-Crystal coach Jason Gray said. “We have been able to gain some momentum coming into the stretch run of the conference schedule and we are playing pretty confidently right now.”
The Mustangs, however, will need a win to keep hopes alive for a playoff spot. Montabella needs to win their final four games to guarantee that spot.
Both coaches have had a good week of practice so far, they say.
“Practice’s have been pretty normal for us,” Gray said. “Our kids come focused each day and ready to get better. It is our homecoming this week, but the players understand first and foremost we have a difficult game on Friday and we will have to play well in order to win. That has been their motivator all week.”
“We really have had a good week of practice,” Montabella coach David Clay said. “We’ve been in pretty good spirits. Any time you go against a team like (Mount Pleasant) Sacred Heart there’s a chance it will have a negative impact. But the team has put that behind them and we’re focused on Carson City.”
The Mustangs are coming off a 62-12 shellacking by the Irish. Clay wants to avoid the same thing Friday.
“Carson has been very impressive in the sense that they are a very physical football team,” he said. “Their offense and defensive line play aggressive, they run the ball well. They are going to be a very tough opponent for us.”
Gray has a lot of respect for Montabella.
“Montabella is extremely well coached. David Clay has done an incredible job at Montabella,” Gray said. “They repeat successful plays and do a few things great as opposed to a lot of things average. That is what makes teams great and David has their kids going in the right direction.”
Clay noted his offense still was able to move the ball against Sacred Heart.
“We think we have a pretty good offensive football team. Even in losses we’re about to move the ball effectively,” he said. “I think the team that is able to maintain the most drives and is the most physical at the line of scrimmage will come out on top in this one.”
Gray, meanwhile, thinks it’s about the big plays.
“What will determine the winner of the game will be the team that can avoid giving up the big plays,” he said. “We will have to play physical on both sides of the ball and tackle really well. They have some running backs that run extremely hard and they do not go down on first contact. We have to gang tackle and run to the ball.”
Clay said he’s guessing the game will be high-scoring.
“Carson, they run the traditional wing-T and they have guys that make plays,” he said. “We have guys that could make plays also. We both also have pretty good defenses too so it’s kind of tough to predict.”
Other games playing Friday have Northview at Greenville, Lakeview at Hesperia, Allendale at Belding, Newaygo at Central Montcalm, Ludington at Tri County and Sacred Heart at Vestaburg.