Published September 25, 2013
Bathers football team hopes solid start leads to first playoff berth in nearly two decades
By Jason Carmel Davis firstname.lastname@example.org Follow Jason on Twitter.
MOUNT CLEMENS — The Mount Clemens football team sat at 2-1, 2-0 Macomb Area Conference Bronze Division at press time. The start marks the second time in three years the Bathers began MAC Bronze play 2-0.
Mount Clemens senior running back Marquell Sanders said his team’s early play isn’t a big deal.
“We’re playing much better than we did last year,” said Sanders, who also plays defensive back, “but the start isn’t the most important thing. We have bigger goals.”
One of those goals is to be the first Mount Clemens team to qualify for the Michigan High School Athletic Association state playoffs since 1994. The Bathers won a league title that season before falling to Oxford 20-7 in a regional playoff matchup.
Mount Clemens’ last division title came in 1997. The Bathers’ best finish since then was a second-place showing in 2003.
Senior offensive lineman Roberto Moya couldn’t believe it had been that long since Mount Clemens played a playoff game.
“It’d mean everything for us to (make the playoffs),” said Moya, who also plays linebacker. “We’re about to make that happen.”
The Bathers are four wins away from making that happen. Mount Clemens has already shown progress, already matching last year’s win total. Through three games, Mount Clemens had put up 20.3 points per game. That number is up almost a touchdown (15.1) from 2012.
The Bathers’ defense, which coach Harold Penn said needed to improve on its pursuit of the ball, has stepped up, as well. Mount Clemens was allowing 11.0 points per game — good for fifth in the 36-team MAC. The number is down from a solid 16.6 points allowed in 2012.
“We’re playing well. Last year, we had the physical attributes, but nobody had the mental capacity to take care of business,” junior running back/linebacker Noah Allen said. “This year, we have the physical tools, but now we have the mental attributes we need to stay competitive and win.
“We have the mentality that we think we’re going to win every game. We never go into a game thinking we’re going to lose.”
Penn said offensive execution is key for his squad, as well. Senior running back Jesse Stevens, who also plays defensive back, said the Bathers have worked hard to get that execution down.
“We’re working hard,” Stevens said. “The linemen are doing their jobs up front, and the running backs are following right behind them.”
Each player said the team must remain focused if it hopes to break the program’s playoff drought.
Allen said breaking that streak has been on his mind for some time.
“To say we’re the team that gets (Mount Clemens) back to the playoffs would be something for us to keep forever,” Allen said. “It’s definitely in the back of our heads.”
The Bathers next hit the field for a MAC Bronze showdown with Center Line (0-3, 0-2 MAC Bronze at press time). Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Sept. 27 at Mount Clemens.