Eighth-grade football players charge through the season

In the Middle

Despite the Middle School football team’s 1-1-2 record,  Head Coach Matt Kocay said he was proud of the team.

“From where we started the season at to when we ended, we made tremendous progress on the offensive side of the ball,” he said. Since the team consisted of so many new players and very few veterans, Coach Kocay said he didn’t know who was going to be able to catch and run the ball.

“I knew that our team was going to be able to throw the ball because we had a returning quarterback, but we didn’t know if we were going to have anyone to throw to,” Coach Kocay said. He said he was very happy after eighth-grader tight end Brady Nichols joined the team and saw that he could catch the ball.

“Brady Nichols was a huge asset to the team and we missed him dearly in the last couple of games because of his injury in our second to last game,” Coach Kocay said.  “Also [eighth-grader quarterback] Devin Wolff and [seventh-grader running back] Jack Decker were huge assets in the running and throwing game which put us up in a lot of the games.”

The football team set a couple of goals after their first and second games. “One of our team’s goals this year was to push ourselves and learn how to tackle,” Coach Kocay said. The team members did improve on this skill over the season, but they still needed to learn to not tackle up because that can cause injuries.

The football team had a lot of highlights this year.  Decker had some huge plays on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. He made amazing runs throughout the season and kept the team in many games; he would run right past people for over 50-yard touchdowns. Decker also made big plays on defensive running and tackling the opponents running backs.

Another highlight for the football team and especially for the first year eighth-grader wide receiver Ben Stengel, was the 78 yard touchdown pass. Wolff threw the ball about 30 yards downfield and Stengel caught the spiral. Stengel ran it the rest of the way.

This throw and catch was a great accomplishment for the whole team because it occurred during the football team’s first game and was the first caught touchdown pass of the season.

The skill level of eighth-grader lineman Ethan Shames and Wolff enabled the team to succeed on both offense and defense. “I think we did a good job containing the pass and putting pressure on the quarterback and a good job of stopping the inside run,” Shames said.

The football team may not be as strong next year, unfortunately since it will be losing a lot of key eighth-graders. “Our team had some good players and we lost our line and tight ends and quarterback, and I feel that our team needs to rebuild itself to become good next year,” eighth-grader lineman Patrick Kinney said.

Decker and seventh-grader lineman James Livingstone will have to step up and become leaders and role models for the other players. Many other players have made good progress which should help the team next year.