What a difference two weeks makes.
The same people who were quick to criticize a new head coach’s philosophies are now the ones believing their team can beat the league’s best next week, thanks to the continual dedication of their kids and some encouraging results.
The Jonesville Comets (2-2 overall, 2-1 Big Eight), played the smash-mouth, controlling kind of football head coach Joshua Lindeman has been preaching since day one Friday night. They racked up 456 yards rushing and forced seven turnovers to route Springport 41-0, the first win against the Spartans in six seasons.
Senior John Sigler was one of many stars on display, running for 121 yards and a touchdown, catching a 13-yard touchdown pass from Spencer Nielsen, and intercepting a ball in the Spartan’s red zone.
And following the contest, the senior wasn’t afraid to let his emotions run after a big Senior Night victory in his next-to-last game at home.
“I love Josh Lindeman, he’s an amazing coach,” Sigler said. “A lot of people doubted him, and I don’t like when they talk crap, because they aren’t the ones putting the time in — he’s putting all he time in, staying up late watching film, I love him. He’s working his butt off and we’re going to try our hardest to give him a winning season.”
Lindeman believes the only reason to feature the passing game is if the running game isn’t working, and it wasn’t just working Friday, it was eating at and wearing at Springport (0-4, 0-2) from the first quarter on.
The Comets ran the ball 51 times and have nearly 800 yards on the ground in their last two games.
The return of Kory Kidder was a delightful one for Jonesville fans as he took defenders along for rides several times with his brute strength, including at the end of a 21-yard touchdown run, one of two scores on the night. He finished with 84 yards on 11 carries.
Trevor Kelley on the other hand wasn’t messing around, as he used his eight carries to run for 167 yards and two scores, using his blazing speed to get outside the tackle for an 88-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
Lindeman said Friday’s contest was a picture-perfect example of how he wants the black-and-orange to compete, not just this season, but for years to come.
“It’s great. We’re starting to get healthy, the system is starting to click, the kids are starting to see the production, see the holes, they’re running through the holes hard, our coaches are getting into a groove,” he said. “I told the guys…this is what we’re striving for, this is what we want our program to become; where we pound people offensively and we play defense with the same amount of passion as offense, and we did that tonight.”
The defense was relentlessly on sophomore quarterback Keith Nebelung’s tail all night long and the Comets defensive line shut down everything that came up the middle.
The Spartans totaled just 39 yards on 25 carries, forcing Nebelung, who was starting in place of junior star Nic Aday, to try and make plays with his feet.
The Comets were having none of it.
He ran 13 times for -12 yards, and although he had 183 yards passing, 129 of those on four deep balls to Mike Neil, he could never get comfortable in the pocket.
“We wanted him to throw the ball. When he’s out running and they’re running their option they are a dangerous team, so coming in we knew he was a sophomore and we knew he was going to make plays with his feet out of the pocket and we wanted to keep him in the pocket by brining pressure,” Lindeman said. “He made some great reads, really the only time they moved the ball was on some of his nice plays. We got after him though and made it tough on him.”
Making it even tougher on the Spartans, the Comets stopped five Springport drives dead in their tracks on attempted fourth-down conversions. They also recovered a fumble and picked off a pass.
Alex Bontempo, Evan Lobdell, Logan Jenkins and Dominic Mulkey were just a few of the guys getting into the backfield all evening long in the Comets second straight solid defensive effort.
“It’s great for the kids, it’s great for the community and school, especially on Senior Night at home after dropping the first two here,” Lindeman said.
The Comets have reason to celebrate, but not for long, as a Big Eight showdown with rival Reading looms next week.
Lindeman knows it would be no small feat to go to the Rangers field and come away with a win, and he let his team know he’s excited about the opportunity.
“When I got this job I said everybody knows (Reading is a good football team), the state knows it — and when I sat down with the seniors the very first time and asked them what their goal was they said, ‘Beat Reading,” he said. “We always take it one opponent at a time, and we didn’t talk about Reading the entire year since two-a-days started, but (tonight after the game) I wanted to let them know that I’m excited about it, just as well as they’re excited about it because I want to see where we stand with them, especially that now we’re starting to groove a little.”