A chat with Coach Nummerdor as Holton preps to play for a shot at the title
By Ken DeLaat
Photos by Dan Packard
It has been a memorable season for the Red Devils to say the least.There are 543 teams competing in high school football (11 player variety) in 8 Divisions. In each Division 32 of those teams advanced to the one and done playoff season and in D8 28 of those teams are no longer playing.
But Holton is.
The Devils lost to Kent City, Pine River, Tri County, and Morley Stanwood during the season. Each of those teams made the playoffs and yet none will be suiting up this weekend.
But Holton will be.
This is a team with a community that has embraced them, a spirit that has enveloped them and a coach that has believed in them.
They will take on the Reading Raiders at 1pm Saturday at Harper Creek High School in Battle Creek with the winner advancing to the championship game Thanksgiving weekend in Detroit.
We caught up with a busy and highly focused Coach Jack Nummerdor to pose a few questions
N3-Your team seemed to have three seasons this year. You started out like gangbusters then kind of struggled at the end of the regular before regrouping and playing some inspired football in the postseason run. What changed?
Honestly, Holton does not have that storied past with football. We have had some good teams, but it is not something that happens here all of the time. We struggled on handling expectations and started to falter. We were a little banged up which didn't help as well. At the end of the regular season we were down and thinking we were out. When we figured out we were in the kids have really taken advantage of another chance to play. They are having fun and focusing on the right things at this point.
N3-Successful teams have leaders emerge from the ranks. Any players stand out it this area for you?
We have followed the likes of Aaron Herron and Derek Pouch for the entire season, but names like Draven Wyant and Kaleb Kitchka have emerged in the media as defensive stoppers, but our team rallies around each other. Other kids have really stepped up when needed like Ricky Enders, Drew Trygstad, and Nathan Slowik. The community energy has also helped lead this team. Our offensive and Defensive Line have taken it to heart that the games are won and lost by them in the trenches. It has really been an entire team effort. Even sophomore Austin Hawkins led us in rushing last week and set the edge defensively.
N3-Reading is an offensive juggernaut piling up points all season. What do you know about them going in? What does your team need to do to move on?
Reading has really beat up a lot of teams. They come out in lots of different formations so it makes it tough to prepare for. The look big up front and their backs run hard and fast. For us to be successful we need to continue to believe in ourselves, our team, and a win. If we continue to play the way we have the last three weeks, we can be very successful.
N3-This is your last season at Holton and the team is going farther than any team in school history. How does it feel?
I really have not taken time to reflect on what this team is doing because we have refocused each week on our new opponent. When it is all said in done here in the next two weeks, I might be able to answer that better. It has been all business for us each week since playoffs started and we like it that way. Our focus is on Reading and not what we have accomplished just yet. The other piece of this is what these kids have deserved and what this community deserved. It has been a long time coming for this place and has been my only goal and my families only goal is to give back to Holton. If anything we just want to continue to deliver.
Saturday the Red Devils play perhaps the biggest game of football in school history with a shot at writing more history with a trip to Ford Field and a chance to play in front of a huge crowd as well as a television audience.
I can’t think of a team more deserving. This scrappy squad has made quite the run and now they face a Reading team that has been blowing out opponents all year. Half of the dozen Raider wins have been shutouts. Their qb Alex Price can toss for some big plays and featured running back Ethan LoPresto can pile up yards and both benefit from strong line play, the same players who on defense are known as the Land Sharks.
On paper Reading looks like a better team but they aren’t playing the game on paper. The Raiders want a title and knocked off Whiteford, the defending champs, before taking down the Jungaleers of Detroit Southeastern 54-0 last week.
Holton might be happy to be here but it doesn’t stop there for the Devils. They have defied the odds all along the way and while it seems they would have to play a great game to have a shot at advancing to Detroit….
Nothing they do from here on out should be a surprise anymore.
This team has some serious heart.