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Pass or fail: Week 4 high school football notebook


A starlit night sky
With the pressure of deadlines and only so many stones to throw at a mountain full of games it’s easy to miss some memorable performances.

And I certainly do not want to be that guy.

Thus, here’s a few players who had standout performances last week who you should be talking about if you’re not already.

Aaron Blanchard, Hillsdale:
The Hornet senior might be listed as a wide receiver and defensive back, but he proved he’s a more than adequate replacement for the injured Nick Reiniche at running back. While Reiniche is an explosion-in-a-box, waiting to bust out at any time, when healthy, Blanchard is quick and fidgety. He knows how to find the seams between the tackles and go to work. His 14 carries for 119 yards in a win over Western were a pleasant surprise, and while he won’t make anyone forget brother Mike, he will at least provide a solid option who looked as good as any Hornet back has all year.    

Brock Estel, Hillsdale: Another Hornet senior was on the money Friday night. If you haven’t already seen his stat line prepare to be impressed: 21 total tackles, 2.5 tackles-for-loss and two sacks. After a couple of hard-to-watch defensive outings from the Hornets the first two weeks, Estel has been a key part of a defensive line that has done a complete 180. At times he looks like mixed martial arts megastar Brock Lesnar out their on the field, making hits and taking names.

Garet Lee, Pittsford: His name hasn’t owned the headlines like it has the past few years, but part of that is he’s adjusting to playing with a much different supporting cast. The one thing the Wildcats’ QB hasn’t changed about his game is his ability to run around and over people, evident by several 100-plus yard running games so far this year. Last Friday he was good for 99 yards on 11 carries and he scored a rushing touchdown, while also returning a punt for a score and throwing a TD pass to Zac Broughman. I commend him for being able to put a hefty load on his shoulders a season after the graduations of Chase Weber and Zac Vanlerberg are hard to forget.

Joe Hubbard, Reading: After three weeks of handing the ball off and watching his teammates zoom toward the end zone, Hubbard was given the chance to air it out a little and he didn’t disappoint. In a win over Athens he went 9-for-14 for 135 yards and a touchdown, without turning the ball over. I hear his confidence is as high as ever and if Jonesville can provide any such resistance to the Ranger ground game this week, Hubbard will get a chance to show just what kind of field general he is.


My wit
I get access to the sidelines, I’ve had the luxury of sitting down for one-on-ones with all of the coaches and I get to hear more opinions about the local teams than Mark Schauer hears suggestions for healthcare reform.

Yet, the unpredictable animal that Class C and D high school football is in Hillsdale County has almost made me look like Schauer when I make predictions. 

I really thought Hillsdale would take another week to pull itself together — just like I thought they would take out Hudson in week one.

And I knew Waldron wouldn’t be quite as good, but I didn’t know they would be losing the ball more than I do when I’m playing 18 holes.

I’ve come to realize there are a lot of very talented athletes in the county, but only the best of the best are consistently excellent.

The level of competition is so varied that a 180 rushing yards against one team could correlate to 53 yards on 22 carries against the next team.  Sometimes that is because it’s hard to sustain a consistently high level of execution for a 15-18 year old and another aspect of it is just that some opponents are bigger, stronger and more prepared to take on the task at hand.

It’s also hard for me to grasp the game-to-game strategies, maneuvers and tactics of first-year coaches like Jimmy Biggs and Scott Campbell, who I’ve seen a combined one game of so far.

One thing that continues to come through for me though is the “seeing eye test.”

Throw stats and patterns out the window, give me a sidelines view of the action unfiltered and I can learn more in five minutes than I can from an hour of analyzing numbers.

That’s why I believe Jonesville has a legitimate shot to compete with Reading this Friday, but it’s the same reason I realize it will take an almost perfect night and an aggressive defensive game plan for the Comets to do just that.

I love sports and take pride in giving you a different perspective that isn’t so black and white, but more grey.

I just had to inform you that I have no Magic 8-ball that gives me all the answers, because high school sports at this level is a haze of crazy magic colors that sometimes make me sick in the face when I try to concentrate too hard at times.


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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