STANTON — Most sophomore football players are playing junior varsity football. For the few that actually play varsity football, under center is not usually the position where they will be found.
For Central Montcalm sophomore Keagan James, under center as quarterback is where he will be found. As expected the sophomore has had his ups and downs this season for the Hornets (2-4).
“When you are a sophomore on varsity it is often times tough to comprehend the speed of the game right away,” Hornets coach and Keagan’s father Marty James said. “I think Keagan has done an excellent job digesting the offense. He has had a good season to this point.”
Most of the struggles has come in the passing game the past few weeks. James has been stellar on the ground for the Hornets.
“We’ve been kind of waiting for that sophomore game to emerge and Friday night he struggled a little bit against Newaygo,” Marty James said. “He’s really run the ball well. He threw the ball well early. He has struggled throwing the ball lately, so we have some work to do there. But I’ve been pleased.”
James enjoys throwing the ball more than running, but is in a running offense.
“I love throwing the ball, but we are a running offense so I enjoy that too,” James said. “Definitely, throwing is my favorite. My stats haven’t shown a lot of great passing the last few games. I was better the first few games.”
James was just 2-for-8 for 10 yards in Friday’s loss to Newaygo, but rushed for 111 yards on 17 carries. He threw for one touchdown, but tossed four interceptions.
Through six games, James has 584 yards throwing (41-for-95) with six touchdowns and six interceptions. On the ground, James is leading the team with 794 yards on 125 carries (6.4 avg.) with six touchdowns.
The last nine-game regular season 1,000 yard rusher for Central Montcalm was Ed Schneider in the mid-1990s. With three games remaining James has the chance to reach that milestone, as well.
James credits the support around him for being able to make the transition to varsity as a sophomore.
“It’s been going well like a regular season for a starting quarterback,” James said. “A lot of what has happened is because of my teammates. I owe a lot to them. I couldn’t be where I am without a lot of the help from the seniors. I have a lot of people behind me and that is nice to know.”
He has even joked that he was hit harder on junior varsity than now on varsity. Again, he credits the team.
“I owe that to my blockers and having them behind me,” James said. “I know I can trust them. We have a mostly senior line. It’s nice to know I’m not going to get blindsided.”
Marty James said it wasn’t an easy decision to make Keagan the starting quarterback. Keagan said he feels just like another player on the team.
“It’s always tough to make that decision as a coach. It’s especially tough when it’s your son,” Marty James said. “You want to make the decision for the right reasons. I relied heavily on my staff for that and made it a staff decision.”
“It’s not much different than the youth league. He treats me just like another one of his players,” James said of his father. “I don’t get any special treatment. I feel like just another player. I get yelled at for making mistakes, I get corrected by every coach and it’s yes coach even to my dad.”
Senior Will Plavin moved from quarterback to the slot position to accommodate the move to James.
At 2-4 overall, a postseason bid is all but gone. Finishing out the year, James has a couple of goals.
“I’m looking for more experience for the next two years and I want to win out,” James said. “That is one of our team goals to win out. We want to finish with an above average season.”
Central Montcalm will have their first chance to close out the season with wins at rival Lakeview (3-3)on Saturday as the Wildcats celebrate homecoming.
“It’s always a great game. It’s always a bloodbath,” James said. “I’m excited to see the results of it. It’s always a big game and Lakeview is a good team.”