With Sturgis’ Homecoming game against Harper Creek just a day away, the Trojans spent time this week soul searching. Coming off a loss to Coldwater, head coach Jimmy Lamb harped on the importance of living in the present. The future isn’t guaranteed.
“It’s your season; it’s not mine,” Lamb told his Trojans, which are 3-2 overall and 2-1 in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East Division. “I feel like there are some guys that still don’t trust the system. I’m doing everything in my power to make sure they’re ready to go and compete at the highest level they can compete. I want them to be successful. But I also know that I can’t want it more than they want it. That’s what I think I’m fighting right now. I want it more than they want it.
“For some of these seniors, they have four more games to go into battle. We hope for more. But they’re guaranteed four more. Make every rep count. Make this one count. You never know, it could be your last one.”
Harper Creek has won three straight games, including last week’s 39-9 romp over Battle Creek Central. The Beavers also beat Marshall 14-6 and Coldwater 39-9. Sturgis hasn’t won a home game against Harper Creek since 2004.
Senior tight end/defensive end Luke Summey missed the Coldwater game with what was feared to be a season-ending knee injury. It turned out to be a sprain and the 6-foot-3, 195-pounder was back to full participation in practice Wednesday.
Senior receiver Kalvyn Bowdish also sat out last Friday against the Cardinals with a high-ankle sprain. The team’s leading receiver was also cleared for action. Senior lineman Taylor Mayo will miss another game with an ankle sprain, junior tight end/linebacker Jacob Haas is still out with lingering concussion symptoms and reserve Ricky Stiles is sidelined with a dinged shoulder.
“Summey has been out seven days and he’s got to get back into the rhythm of it,” Lamb said. “I’m excited to have them back. Listening to them Friday night, he and Bowdish were both coaching [teammates] up on the sideline. That’s where I’ve been wanting kids to go, not always to us coaches. If they can respect each other enough to [listen to their teammates] … I want that. I think both of them are itching to get back in there and play.”
Lamb had hoped to see some other receivers step up other than junior Jack Scheske in Bowdish’s absence last week. Instead, the Trojans’ passing attack sputtered.
“We run five-receiver sets sometimes and four-receiver sets a lot,” Lamb explained. “Guys have got to start making catches. You only get so many balls thrown to you before the balls stop coming in your direction.”
Scouting Harper Creek
Quarterback Trevor Johnson has been a serviceable passer this year for the Beavers, throwing for 613 yards. Receiver Mickey Barea has caught 15 balls for 186 yards. The rushing tandem of Anthony McNichols and Trevor Johnson is a potent one. McNichols is averaging 5.9 yards per carry this year. Defensive back Brandon Hutson boasts two interceptions through five games.
“They are hard nosed. Harper is going to try to run it down our throats, I believe,” Lamb said. “They’ve got a big tight end and moved him [from offensive tackle]. They’ve got a speedy tailback that can fly. He gets going and he’s gone. Against St. Joe he hit an 80-yarder outside handoff — boom — stretch play, gone.
“They run a lot of I-formation, fullback trap, off tackle, [isolation], toss and sometimes they will go twins. They throw some very similar routes to what we throw — some hooks, curls and outs. The quarterback looks decent, but we’re going to take some shots and gamble … see if we can get some INTs. We can’t sit back. I’ve seen enough film that I can kind of tell what they’re going to do.”
Lamb explained this week there are two types of players “that kill” a program.
“One is the player that will only do what you ask them to do and the other is the one that will never do what you ask them to do,” he said. “I told them both are selfish players.
“One is obvious because they just don’t want to do what the coach tells them to do. The other one will be like, ‘Hey, coach, you told me to block the linebacker and he didn’t show up, so I didn’t block anybody.”
Stressing the importance of improvisation, Lamb and his staff worked on blocking a lot this week.
“We’ve had a pretty good week so far of staying on our blocks. I got after them [Wednesday] for about a 25-minute period and we were just beating the [heck] out of each other,” he said. “It was good.”