After Saturday’s loss to Ashland, I described the last four weeks as being a “miserable month”. Hillsdale had lost four games in a row. An offense that was at one point in the season leading the GLIAC in a number of categories had scored just 10 points in its last two games. Players have been out due to injuries and oh yeah, there was that whole 10 player suspension thing. It hasn’t been a banner stretch for the home of “Smartguy Football”.
That is all in the past now and four weeks remain on the schedule, with four very beatable opponents.
Most figured that 2014 would be full of growing pains as a very young team figured out what it takes to win in the GLIAC. I have found myself comparing this season an awful lot to the 2008 season. He hates when I mention this, but quarterback Troy Weatherhead grew tremendously that year and had some very up and down moments. Mark Laprairie reminds me a ton of Troy. They both hail from just north of Grand Rapids, have a similar throwing motion although Laprairie is a lot more mobile than Weatherhead. The two actually spend time in the off-season throwing and working out. Beyond the quarterback, there have been moments this season eerily similar to six years ago as well. There have been times in 2008 and 2014 where close games with good teams could have been won by fewer turnovers or a big play here or there and moments when programs like GVSU blew out Hillsdale, showing us how an elite program functions . The 2008 Chargers took every knock as a lesson though and in 2009 had the most successful Division II season in Hillsdale history.
This team has the potential to take those very same steps…and it doesn’t have to start in August of 2015. It can start in 24 hours. This might be the best Tiffin Dragon team Hillsdale has faced since 2006 with wins over Saginaw Valley and Wayne State. Say what you will about the Cardinals and Warriors this year, but 4-3 Tiffin ain’t your typical Tiffin team. Still I like Hillsdale’s chances tomorrow to hit the reset button on this season.
It is Fall Break in Hillsdale so there is a bit of a reprieve from the academic demands and most players are back off of suspensions. This trip needs to be a spiritual retreat where these guys can get back to playing this game for fun, the way they did when they first started so many years ago. Getting back on the right foot and grabbing some momentum can not only flip the script on this season but build some necessary confidence entering 2015.
So, when I look into the Charger Blue crystal ball here is what I see a win doing for the remainder of 2014…
• Offense and defense both playing at the high level each has shown at times throughout the season
•A couple of guys asserting themselves to emerge as go-to playmakers on the offensive side of the ball
•Four weeks of winning against four beatable but respectable teams and programs
•Finishing the season as one of the league’s hottest teams
•A whole bunch of people around the GLIAC saying, “I sure am glad we played Hillsdale when we did. I wouldn’t want to play them now.”
•A whole lot of fun for everyone involved; players, coaches, parents, fans
C’mon boys. It’s time to rally.