In his first start at QB, Nathan Smith figures to be shifty. Lemerand said he expects Luma to try and create as much open space for Smith as possible, because he’s a “big-time playmaker.” The Tigers’ top two rushers from 2008 are gone, but Chris Aguirre (third on the team) returns, and Drew Milligan will see plenty of carries, after going over 1,000 yards on the JV squad last year. Only two starting offensive linemen return. Luma wants to run, run, run though — per usual for the head coach.
Aguirre was an all-league player last season, tallying 64 tackles, three sacks and three fumble recoveries. A lot of their key guys are gone though, including Garrett Schoonover who had four interceptions in 2008, and Kyle Benschoter, who led the team with 83 tackles. There are six to seven new starters on this unit.
A lot of the new faces on the Tigers were part of an 8-1 JV squad last season. The Tigers have been preparing for a brutal first four weeks of the season for the last few months. After the Hornets they take on Morenci, Onsted and Blissfield. Smith may be inexperienced at QB, but starting QB Taylor Milligan threw for just 277 yards all of last season, so not much will be lost from the passing game.
News flash: Mike Curby may not be making his first start at QB. As of Thursday he was tending to an undisclosed injury and head coach Marc Lemerand was mum on it. “He’s day-to-day at this point, that’s all I’m going to say,” he said.
He did tip his hat that 6-5 junior Dan Vear would likely start if Curby was a no-go, and sophomore Travis Hodos could also take some snaps. Hodos started on JV last year, but Lemerand said Vear has continued to improve this offseason. With this uncertainty look for HB Nick Reiniche to get a hefty dose of carries, maybe 20-25.
Linebackers Justin Reed and Brian Vear will have key roles. The quicker they read the offense and find the ball carrier the better chance they have of discouraging the Hudson ground attack. Brock Estel and Kirk Putnam will set the tone on the defensive line.
With uncertainty at QB and less weapons than Lemerand is accustomed to special teams could actually come in to play. Last year Brennan Holroyd was one of the best kickers in all of Class C and he regularly booted kickoffs out of the endzone. Now the Hornets don’t even have a kicker or punter listed on the roster. If this is a close game, look to the special teams unit.
By The Numbers
0 The number of combined varsity starts for Hudson quarterback Nathan Smith and Hillsdale QBs Mike Curby, Dan Vear and Travis Hodos, all of whom could start
24-16-2 Hudson holds the all-time series lead against Hillsdale by a 24-16-2 margin. The Hornets have won the last two meetings, but the Tigers dominated the 1980s in this rivalry.
108 The Hillsdale squad scored 391 points last season, 108 more than Hudson (283). Both teams made the playoffs.
Without knowing if Mike Curby is going to start at QB it’s hard to get a good feel on this one. Curby proved he is a quality pocket passer last year, but Dan Vear took hardly any snaps on JV and Travis Hodos is only a sophomore. Nonetheless, the Hornet Power program looks to have Lemerand’s boys chiseled and ready to go. They will control the line of scrimmage more often than not and Nick Reiniche is better than any of Hudson’s options in the backfield. I see Curby sitting this one out but I think Hillsdale prevails.
HILLSDALE 28, HUDSON 14