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2009 High school football preview: Jonesville Comets

Some people already like Joshua Lindeman, while others are still trying to warm up to the new Jonesville head coach.

He brings a completely different attitude to a program that was one win short of a playoff berth under Brian Stroble in 2008, and he’s not afraid to change things up because he’s more worried about molding successful young men than he is about meeting the status quo.

The former Hudson Tigers player believes hard work, discipline and constant competition will build the kind of long-standing tradition he envisions and he admits his boys still have some work to do in those departments as the season kicks off.

“We have to get better disciplined in the game of football. We have to get more fundamentally sound with a lot of little things, techniques and we just have to grow as a football team,” he said during the team’s first week of official practices. “Right now we have talent, everybody in the county says Jonesville has talent this year, but we’ve got to make them football players. That’s our goal. If we can do that we should have some success.”

Lindeman will be the first to say he doesn’t have a real good grasp on the talent of the rest of the Big Eight, but what he is confident in are some major changes he implemented since taking over.

If all eyes are on the new guy with the headset this season, then the second most talked about figure in Jonesville football this year could be Spencer Nielsen.

The junior will start the season as the No. 1 quarterback on the depth chart, replacing last year’s starter John Sigler, who will take on a much different role for his senior year.

Although Nielsen didn’t get much playing time on varsity in 2008 he came on strong this summer and Lindeman was impressed with his temper and his skill set.

“I think he’s transitioning, he had a lot to learn. He came in way behind because he didn’t get much playing time as a sophomore, but he has done the right things,” Lindeman said.

“He works hard, he’s always one of the first guys on all runs and sprints, and that is a quality most good quarterbacks have. Because if they work hard, people are going to follow, so in the third and fourth quarter when we need a drive to win the game, I think kids are going to follow him.”

Drew Hawley may also see some time at QB, in the backup role, but whoever is calling the shots Lindeman expects the Comets to air the ball out more than they did last year.

Jonesville totaled just over 300 passing yards for the entire 2008 season. Although Lindeman is a smash-mouth kind of guy who prefers running the ball down the opposition’s throat he will not limit what type of effect the aerial attack could have.

Much of the Comets production could come from the tight-end spot, where the extremely versatile senior Logan Jenkins will line up when he’s not at receiver, and Evan Lobdell and Alex Bontempo are also expected to have big roles.

“With me it’s just a flow. There may be games when we throw the ball 15 or 20 times and there may be games where the team can’t stop our run, so why put the ball in the air if we’re getting seven or eight yards a crack,” Lindeman said.

He hopes to be getting seven to eight yards a pop, a4long with an array of 20-plus yard runs from Sigler, who is the starting running back after playing QB last season.

“He’s just too explosive of an athlete to play quarterback in my opinion. He is not a quarterback by nature, he’s a running back by nature,” Lindeman said. “He told me he always wanted to play running back but they played him at quarterback.”

Gone from the Comets ground game is Casey Clow, who has moved onto GLIAC turf wars at Hillsdale College, but Lindeman is not lacking for depth in the backfield.

Dominic Mulkey will get some carries, as will Trevor Kelley who showcased some breakaway speed at times last season, and Jay Bearden returns to the lineup as well.

At fullback is one of the Comets most versatile players in Kory Kidder, a kid Lindeman said reminds him a lot of himself back in high school.

“He’s going to be the fullback and will play some defensive line for us,” Lindeman said. “He has actually come a long way and he’s going to be a slash kid — he will probably be the kid who can play all seven positions up front and play them well. He’ll get some carries in the backfield too.”

The offensive line was one of Lindeman’s biggest concerns when he took over and he’s pleased with the options he has to protect his quarterback and open sizable holes for the running game.

Josh Blonde will likely start at one guard spot, Alex Neino is the team’s starting center and Jake Harden will play left tackle.
Jacob Foust and Ben Jermeay are the current leaders in the clubhouse for the final two O-line slots.

“We need bulldozers as our offensive tackles. Our line will look funny at times because we’ll have real big offensive tackles and our inside three guys will be small,” Lindeman said. “Guys can be 160 or 170 pounds on the inside three and still be really good guards or centers in our system.”

On the opposite side of the ball, the Comets will base most of their packages around a basic 4-3 scheme, but Lindeman said he plans on mixing things up at times because of the sheer number of good athletes he has to work with.

“We’ll put three up front, we’ll put four up front, we’ll put five up front,” he said. “Ours is going to be predominantly a 4-3 look but with the kids like Lobdell and Jenkins we’ll be able to give teams different fronts.”

Lindeman wants to focus primarily on stopping the run and setting a physical, aggressive tone early on in ball games.

Linebackers like Blonde and Foust fit that mold, almost to a tee.

“(Blonde) will run through a wall, his intensity level is extremely high and he gets after it. He wants to be great, he is one of those kids who wants to do well,” Lindeman said. “(Foust) is the same way (as Chad Blonde). He got pulled up from JV as a sophomore and started on the offensive line. They will both start probably as guards and linebackers.”

Jenkins will also be a guy to watch as a defensive end, as he transitions over to the defensive side of the ball for the first time in his career.

After having several months to settle in to his new post Lindeman said his goal this year is to compete for a Big Eight title, which in turn would give the Comets a good chance at making the postseason.

Jonesville’s seniors have never seen past week nine during their careers and while Lindeman hopes the playoffs become a reality, he admits he has a little different perspective than some of his players.

“Would it be a disappointment (if we don’t make the playoffs)? To our players, yeah, that’s their number one goal, to play in a playoff game, especially the seniors,” he said.

“As a coaching staff we wouldn’t see it as a disappointment because it’s the first year of a new system and things are going to happen. To them they have tunnel vision, and rightfully so.”


About rjwalters

I am what you think I am — a journalist. Actually when I was hired at my current job, which by the way is Sports Editor of the Hillsdale Daily News in Hillsdale, Mich., I applied for a position titled "Wordsmith", so at my best I'll call myself a writer attempting to be a wordsmith extraordinaire.


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