By RJ Walters / Daily News Sports Editor
As published on Feb. 7, 2009 in the Hillsdale Daily News
All things considered the Hillsdale Hornet football team’s 2009 schedule has a lot for fans to be excited about at first glance.
Five of the team’s first six games are at home, including a showdown with 2008 state runner-up Leslie, Hudson is back on the schedule and there are no three-hour road trips like last season.
“Yeah it looks pretty good,” Hornets head coach Mark Lemerand said earlier this week sporting a smile. “Being home is nice, so five home games early on is great for us.”
He is also especially excited about opening the season at home against Hudson and ending the year at Manchester.
Both are playoff teams from a year ago and in fact the Flying Dutchmen beat the Tigers 28-6 in the first round.
Hudson finished the season 7-3 and haven’t faced the Hornets since 2006, when Hillsdale blasted them 46-8. The two teams have a long history of facing off, so faithful from both sides should be excited to see them renew the rivalry.
Manchester ended last season with a four-point loss to Monroe St. Mary Catholic in the state quarterfinals and are perennially a playoff team who wins nine or 10 games.
“We’re very excited about the opportunity to play both Manchester and Hudson because they are strong programs who have outstanding coaches,” Lemerand said. “And going to Manchester is a good test for us before the playoffs, which he hope to be playing in again, and it will maybe be kind of a preview of things to come.”
Also on the Hornets non-conference slate are Hastings and Dundee.
Hastings is a class B school of nearly 1,000 students who went 4-5 last season.
Dundee is a class C team who went just 3-6 last season, but is only two years removed from a playoff berth. That appearance was short though, thanks to the Hornets, who cruised to a 38-14 first-round win at home.
What Lemerand is most excited about in regard to the schedule is the fact there are no long road trips to the likes of Erie Mason or Flat Rock like last season.
“We want to keep things close when possible and I’m happy we were able to do that,” Lemerand said. “It helps with things like traveling costs and also is better for the players overall.”