The 10 football coaches of the Central State Activities Association (CSAA) wasted no time on deciding the best of the conference.
The regular season ended Friday and coaches convened Saturday to vote. In all, 13 combined Central Montcalm Hornets (2-7) and Lakeview Wildcats (5-4) earned league honors.
Central Montcalm’s Jesse Judge and Lakeview’s Jared Taylor earned first-team honors.
Taylor — a three-year varsity player — was named with an at-large honor. He rushed for 835 yards on 137 carries with nine touchdowns. He intercepted two passes and returned both kickoffs and punts (13.1 average).
“I thought he had a great year offensively, but it was a combination of all the things he did to earn the at-large honor,” Lakeview coach Guenther Mittelstaedt said. “He was on the field a lot. He was much improved over last year and had a great year in the offensive backfield.”
Earning first-team honors for Central Montcalm as defensive end was senior Jesse Judge. He made 64 tackles, had 2.5 sacks, blocked two field goals and recovered one punt.
“He is very deserving. He is a three-year varsity starter and was close to leading our team in tackles,” Hornets coach Marty James said. “He was a force for us defensively and has been for three years. He was one of the top vote getters in the league.”
Judge also caught 26 passes for 370 yards on the offensive side.
The Wildcats had four players earn second-team honors.
Senior Koty Burgess earned the honor as an offensive linemen.
“He was our most solid blocker on the offensive line,” Mittelstaedt said. “He has been a three-year starter for us and improved a lot from last year. He was injured the last two games and I think that may have cost him a spot on the first team.”
Junior Garret Cavendish earned his spot as a running back. Cavendish rushed for 607 yards on 116 carries. He scored nine touchdowns and caught eight passes for 101 yards.
“He had a great year for a junior. He is a very hard runner,” Mittelstaedt said. “He was our second leading rusher and also played defense, but earned his honor offensively.”
Senior Gus Ward made the squad as a defensive linemen. He made 42 tackles, recovered two fumbles and blocked one punt, which he returned 43 yards for a score.
“He was just a very solid defensive end for us,” Mittelstaedt said of Ward. “He was also a very good leader.”
Senior Cory Hamlin earned the honor as a linebacker. He was the team’s second leading tackler with 62 and recovered one fumble.
“He was much improved from last year and our second leading tackler this year,” Mittelstaedt said. “He was an outstanding leader and captain.”
Earning second team honors for the Hornets were sophomore quarterback Keagan James and senior offensive linemen Terran Ellsworth.
James rushed for 1,134 yards on 183 carries and scored 11 touchdowns. Passing, he went 57-for-134 for 715 yards and seven touchdowns against eight interceptions.
“He had a great year for any quarterback. I’ve never coached a quarterback that has reached 1,000 yards,” James said. “He ran the ball very well. He learned a lot about throwing the ball. He has a lot of growing to do, but the future is bright for him.”
Ellsworth was a center, after playing tackle as a junior.
“I’m going to guess about half of our 2,200 yards rushing came on our mid-line option. Obviously, our center is a huge part of that,” James said. “He was a tackle and made the move this year. We never took a snap under center and I don’t think we had many bad snaps where we lost the ball all year.”
Lakeview honorable mentions went to junior Shawn Lindsey, senior Nate Hayward and junior Terry Grieser.
Central Montcalm honorable mentions went to senior Lucas Emmons and junior Cory Kindlle.
CSAA Coach of the Year honors went to Reed City’s (9-0) Monty Price. Reed City, Big Rapids (8-1), Newaygo (7-2) and Chippewa Hills (6-3) all made the MHSAA football playoffs.