STANTON — The Central Montcalm Hornets football team missed the playoffs for the second consecutive year this season. Prior to that, the Hornets were playoff qualifiers for four straight seasons.
Getting back to the playoffs is always the goal and what the team will strive for in 2013.
“A win-loss record of 2-7 is hard to digest. Especially after so many years of success,” Hornets coach Marty James said. “I believed going into every game that we had a chance to win. There were only two games that I felt that we did not give ourselves a chance to win.”
James said it wasn’t because a lack of effort from his team.
“I appreciated our teams fight from beginning to end. Not only from beginning to end of every game, but from beginning to end of the season as a whole,” he said.
Central Montcalm tweaked its offensive philosophy this season. They went from an under center team to a pistol (short shotgun), no huddle based offense. Running the ball was still key to the offense.
“I was very proud of our players and our staff. This was a completely new concept and the players and coaches embraced it,” James said. “We still run the same veer option concepts, just from a different philosophy. As I mentioned before, our offense was prolific, especially running the ball, so I believe it was a positive change.”
Keagan James became the first Hornet quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards and just the third player to accomplish the feat in the last 20 plus years. He joined Ed Schneider (1996) and Jake Black (1999) in the 1,000 yard club.
James finished with 1,134 yards on 183 carries. He scored 11 touchdowns on the ground. He also passed for 715 yards, seven touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Lucas Emmons averaged 9.23 yards per carry and finished with 692 yards on 75 carries. He scored eight touchdowns.
“He was a human highlight reel this season, making unbelievable catches. He also recorded school record 99-yard touchdown run,” James said.
Jesse Judge led the team with 370 receiving yards and 26 catches. Defensively, Judge made 64 tackles, 10 of those for a loss and added three sacks.
As team, defensively the Hornets allowed the opponents to score the most points (222) since 2005 (265).
“We had spurts of playing great defense and then we would find ourselves very vulnerable to the big play,” James said. “We know we have to get our defense back to where it has been for so many years… dominant.”
Mike Garnett was the team’s leading tackler with 68, five for a loss.
While James was disappointed with the team’s record, he has other goals in addition to play on the field.
“I also have a goal for our program that we grow in character and grow as active participants in our community,” he said. “Our players were active in our community in several different capacities and also raised almost $6,000 towards the fight of cancer in our community, so we exceeded the goals and expectations in this capacity.”
As for next year, the work has already started to turn the program back into a playoff team.
“We need to get better, period. Finishing 2-7 is not acceptable and we will need to work hard, starting now, to fix that,” James said. “Specifically, we need to get better in the passing game with reads, routes, catching, and protection. We also need to get better defending the pass. We can not afford another season where teams average 20 plus yards throwing the ball against us.”
The past couple of seasons James has also coach the girls varsity basketball team. This year he is not and that will allow for better offseason football preparation.
“I will be able to clinic more and spend more time with college coaches picking their brain, so-to-speak in regards to strategy and philosophy,” James said. “In 20 plus years of coaching, I am very fortunate that I have been able to build great relationships with college coaches and I will be utilizing those contacts more.
“I will also be more available in our winter lifting and conditioning efforts and most important, I will be a better husband and father,” he added.
2012 results (2-7, 2-7)
at Chippewa Hills L 47-32
vs. White Cloud W 54-0
at Big Rapids L 27-18
vs. Morley Stanwood L 16-14
at Holton W 31-7
vs. Newaygo L 38-16
at Lakeview L 26-14
vs. Reed City L 42-25
at Hesperia L 19-13
Final CSAA standings
Reed City 9-0 10-1
Big Rapids 8-1 8-2
Newaygo 7-2 9-3
Chippewa Hills 6-3 7-4
Lakeview 5-4 5-4
Hesperia 4-5 4-5
Morley Stanwood 3-6 3-6
Central Montcalm 2-7 2-7
Holton 1-8 1-8
White Cloud 0-9 0-9