BLANCHARD — Montabella’s football team didn’t have the same success in 2012 as the 2011 team.
But then again, the team was vastly different.
Gone were Charles Helmer and Jemikal Papendick. Instead, a lot of young players were wearing the blue and white for the Mustangs.
Montabella finished 3-6 this season, but coach David Clay wasn’t that unhappy with that result.
“Overall I think it was a positive season,” Clay said. “We were able to get better each week. We had a lot of young guys and they got a lot of experience. During the Perry game 10 of the offensive starters and 11 of the defensive starters will be back next year.”
Yes, Clay would have liked to get back into the playoffs, but that wasn’t in the cards for the Mustangs, Clay said.
“You always want to get six wins and win the conference, but the reality was we were playing a JV team,” he said. “I thought we grew a lot this season.”
Clay said those young players got a boost with a 30-6 win over Manistee Catholic Central in week 3.
“Coming in Manistee (Catholic Central) took (Mount Pleasant) Sacred Heart to the ropes, but we knew we would come in with a good defensive plan, and we moved the ball,” Clay said. “It gave the young players the confidence to know that we could play with anybody. Any fear of stepping up from the JV to the varsity left us.”
Montabella was led on offense by sophomore quarterback Brady Burggren, who completed 55.3 percent of his passes for 1,126 yards and 10 touchdowns with nine interceptions, and Zach Taubitz, who had 361 rushing yards and 239 receiving yards. He combined for eight touchdowns.
But Clay thought a lot of his players did well.
“We really had a lot of guys step up this year,” he said. “It wasn’t just one or two guys. In the past there were one or two studs that you go to. We didn’t have that.”
But Clay cited the two senior leaders for being leaders.
“Leadership wise Drew Nemeth and Logan Burns stepped up,” he said. “Drew kept the team focused. Logan puts it all on the line every game. It was good to have the young kids see that. It gave the guys someone to look up to during the season.”
With as many starters coming back next year, Clay thinks Montabella is already ahead of the game when preparing for next season.
“That was another thing that happened this year was we had to find an identity,” he said. “We worked all summer to be an option team, and we had to quickly change that to a spread team. That was important for next season in that we know what we will have with the kids, and that will give us a head start in the summer in that we know what we’re going to be and working on that instead of trying to find our identity.”