Friday, August 21, 2009

Building A Program: Coloma Comets Football

Coloma has started to move in the right direction to build a Lakeland Conference powerhouse. Since I graduated in 2006 from CHS, the Comets have added a Green and Gold game and more community support for the team. I have seen more Comet T-Shirts and banners across the town and the fans and students seem more involved. The Comets also added scrimmages against bigger Kalamazoo and larger area teams to the pre-season schedule to help prepare the team for the season.

Coloma probably will not be a powerhouse this side of the state or even this area (Lakeshore and St Joe own that) but winning conference championships and hosting playoff games will help move the Comets to be the consistent winners that every high school team dreams to be. Current HC Mark Eddy hit a rough patch in his first season, taking a team that lost many star players after winning the first playoff game in school history. If he had a reliable kicker, he may have made the playoffs and have many more wins on his record. He has added many aspects larger teams use and can make the city more proud of their Comets. CHS will never stack the sidelines with 50 players or have great size at any position, but that does not mean you cannot compete in Michigan High School football.

The Green and Gold game’s third installment took place Saturday morning, August 15th, the week after training camp. Sadly, due to work commitments, this was the first time I was able to attend. The format was one employed by some colleges for their intra-squad scrimmages. 20 minute halves were played with a 15 minute halftime and the offense and defense both had opportunities to score.

The game started with the offense taking the ball at the 35 yard line ready to start their new offense. When you cannot be expected to be as large as the other team or be more physical, the best way to compensate for that is trickery, speed and finesse. Looking to gain an advantage, Eddy installed a west coast style passing offense. From what I saw at the game, the formation of choice is still the wishbone Coloma has employed the last few seasons. I am not sure if what the Comets ran was a preview of the offense this season or what coaches were trying to teach and emphasize this training camp. The passing game was something that looked new to the team. The QB looked hesitant to pull the trigger sometimes and had happy feet and took off too early. I know that the defense they were playing knew the offense better than anybody else the Comets will play, but the pressure put on the offense by the defensive line and linebackers was relentless. Near the end of the game, the offense was clicking more in the aerial attack and sustaining drives deep into the defenses territory. At halftime, the defense took a commanding lead with 16-0 but did not let up and only added to it to take a final score of 28-0.

What I concluded from the game was a few bad points and more than enough good. The new offense is a good idea and will need a few years of tough hard work and commitment from all involved to take effect. I really hope the JV team is running the same offense to help the players get acclimated with the ins and outs of the passing attack. The defense looks bigger than the offense this year, as the team has about 25 players total. A few players will probably be called up from the JV team to help fill in holes and provide depth, especially as the season goes on and injuries pop up.

Honestly I hope the Comets soon consider moving to a full spread attack. What we lack in size we make up for in speed. The spread helps smaller teams pass the ball around and find seams and win ballgames by forcing teams to cover all weapons. The lineman would be taught to be mostly pass blockers, as running would come out of the shotgun. It would be a challenge to have a consistent good long snapper, but with a whole summer could help that. Having a Lakeland Conference team cover 4 or 5 wideouts would be asking too much and hopefully our QB can find the open man. Watervliet moved to a spread, as did Berrien Springs. We will have to wait and see for the season to start to see how many other teams did as well.

Overall, I like where this program is going. The Green and Gold game and scrimmages against bigger teams will only give the players more exposure and practice heading into the season. More passing and options make up for out lack of size and depth. This year the Comets open up on the road against Watervliet in the Super Bowl of the series, the 100th meeting between the two schools. A pressure packed situation with tons of fans and Alumni players got me thinking of where this team is and could be. A solid Lakeland Conference team could be a powerhouse and make the playoffs every year. A new football stadium and facilities can excite the fan base and get the money and pride it takes to get to that goal. We have the coach, the dedication, the tradition and the idea to get there, now Coloma has to put it together and start a new winning tradition to carry into this century.

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