Going into the 2018 football season, Pleasant Ridge football coach Pat McCollim said heart, discipline and focus were the three main pillars for the team in the upcoming season.
After most games, heart was something that McCollim continued to bring up. Sometimes they had too much heart and lacked discipline which would lead to mental mistakes and penalties, but as the year went on, issues were cleaned up and the Rams put together a 5-4 season after going 4-6 in 2017.
The season ended in a 36-14 loss at Rossville in the opening round of the playoffs, which McCollim said has been tough to accept because the team felt like they had more in them.
“This season is tough to accept as over because we felt we had a lot more in us,” McCollim said. “We feel we did a lot to close a gap that has existed here for a while between ourselves and the elite programs in our class. Although we didn’t win some of those games we were in, every one of them until the end and that has not been the case in previous years.”
A big reason for the team closing the gap was the strong play by the offensive line. Dawson Bertrand, Aiden Williams, Carson Bertrand, Hunter Wagner and Eli Schwinn were all collectively the pick for MVP by the head coach.
“I would say our MVP this year would have to be our offensive line,” McCollim said. “This group did a great job communicating and making in-game adjustments all season.”
McCollim also mentioned numerous players who improved throughout the season and gave the opponents fits.
“Colton Comer had a great year at quarterback,” McCollim said. “Running the ball (for) 900 yards and passing (for) 950 yards. Hunter Wagner had a great year at middle linebacker, Eli Schwinn and Carson Bertrand were solid up front on both sides of the ball all season. Clayton Richter and Jamar Reed put defenses under stress as threats on both sides of the field.”
McCollim said the connection from Comer to Reed for a touchdown in the Riverside game would be his favorite memory from the season. The reception gave the Rams the lead with 47 seconds remaining in the final regular season game, which secured the Rams’ spot for third in district play instead of fourth for their matchup against Rossville. McCollim said after the game the team played hard and left it all out on the field in the loss.
With the season now over, the Rams will say goodbye to the eight seniors who played their last game in a Rams football uniform. McCollim said the class will be missed.
“This senior class will be greatly missed this offseason and next year,” McCollim said. “Not only were they very good players who were a large part of our successes this season, but they were also great leaders who played the game with passion and heart and set an example for our underclassmen of how to do things the right way.”
McCollim is optimistic about the future. With a junior varsity squad that went 4-2 this season and talented young players in the coach's eyes, McCollim said he is very optimistic the team will be able to do well without the talented seniors that are departing.
He also sees the tough end of the season to help with the confidence of the team going forward.
“As I stated earlier, I really am having a hard time accepting that this season is over,” McCollim said. “Because I truly believe we had a lot more in us, but that is the way it goes in the playoffs when every team you play is at a high level. I again am proud that we have closed the gap between us and the top programs of the area and played every team on our schedule tough and competitive. I feel this will give our future team confidence that we can play with anyone and if we continue to work hard we can raise our level and become one of those programs others aspire to be.”