CENTREVILLE — Aaron Hartong has spent about as much time serving as a grief counselor as a head football coach at Centreville High School over the last month or so. From the four players dealing with parents battling cancer, to automobile accidents involving loved ones, the Bulldogs have endured a lot.
But in his second season, Hartong thinks this squad is stronger after emerging from the fire and can be a surprising squad this fall.
We are focused and working hard to make 2013 a turnaround year for Centreville,” said Hartong, whose program won just one game last year. “We only have three home games this year, so the battle will be fought on the road.”
The Bulldogs have an eight-game schedule after today’s season-opening opponent Bridgman was added to the slate last week. Covert was originally slotted for Week 1 before it dropped its football program, and Centreville has an open date on Sept. 21 — a day they were originally scheduled to travel far north to Bellaire.
Centreville’s road show features seniors Zach Bauman (running back/defensive back), Zach Teadt (quarterback, defensive back), Justin Trowbridge (guard, defensive tackle) and juniors Jordan Gest (guard/defensive tackle), Bodhi Chiddister (center, defensive tackle) and Jonathon Eicher (tight end/linebacker). Bauman earned All-St. Joseph Valley honors at running back in 2012 and paced the team in rushing yards and tackles (linebacker). His move to the secondary, Hartong said, was due to interest from several colleges. His leadership and commitment has infected his teammates.
“Strongest leader on the team,” Hartong explained. “[He] took the winter and spring off to focus solely on football … has improved his strength exponentially … very hard hitter.”
Trowbridge is again expected to clear space on the offensive line, which will benefit first-year varsity QB Teadt, who spent the offseason working on his accuracy and knowledge of the playbook.
“He can get under your pads and take you where he wants you to go,” Hartong said of Trowbridge.
The Bulldogs think switching sophomore Michael Kool from tight end to offensive tackle is going to pay off this year, and classmate Tyler Marchand adds another weapon with a leg that’s connected on field goals from 45 yards in practice.
“His leg could mean the difference between a win and a loss this year,” Hartong added.
So does an obvious resolve throughout the program.
“With the toughness and intelligence we have this year, we are looking for a playoff birth to begin pulling community interest back towards the football team.”
Coach: Aaron Hartong (1-8, 2nd year)
2012 records: 1-8 (0-3 SJV, 4th place)
Key players: Zach Bauman (Sr., RB/DB), Zach Teadt (Sr., QB/DB), Justin Trowbridge (Sr., G/DT), Jonathon Eicher (Jr., TE/LB), Jordan Gest (Jr., G/DT), Bodhi Chiddister (Jr., C/DT), Nick Kelley (So., G/LB), Michael Kool (So., OT/LB), Dominic Harker (So., RB/LB), Tyler Marchand (So., TE/ED/K).
Aug. 29 at Bridgman
Sept. 6 BRANDYWINE
Sept. 13 at Tri-Unity Christian
Sept. 21 OPEN
Sept. 27 at White Pigeon
Oct. 4 MENDON
Oct. 11 at Bronson
Oct. 18 LAKE MICHIGAN CATHOLIC
Oct. 25 at Hartford