After slow start to season, McLouth has won three of last four
Bulldogs are 3-0 at home, allowing just 9 points a game
After taking its lumps the first couple weeks of the season, the McLouth High football team, with a 28-14 home win over Horton on Friday, has won three of its last four games.
Bulldogs coach Christ Stewart said that tough start against some seasoned squads helped his team, which only won three games combined in the previous two seasons, grow up.
Now McLouth’s upperclassmen — led by junior back Alex Courtney, who ran for 181 yards and three touchdowns and caught two passes for 10 yards and a score against Horton — are more comfortable and have made a big improvement.
“I think that we’ve got a little bit more experienced team now,” Stewart said.
Though Courtney, with his field vision and toughness carrying the ball, poses the biggest threat to MHS opponents, he’s getting a lot of help. Junior Shawn Dailey, for example, ran for 102 yards on 12 carries on Friday. Plus, sophomore quarterback Marc Walbridge is keeping opposing defenses honest with his efficient play — Walbridge completed five of 10 passes against Horton and threw a TD pass.
McLouth’s offensive line, Stewart pointed out, has led to the success of Courtney and others.
“I’ve got to say that they’re blocking and doing their jobs to allow Alex to do his job,” the coach said.
McLouth (3-3) is 3-0 on its home field at Stan Braksick Sports Complex this season, and Stewart said the difference between winning and losing has been the play of the Bulldogs’ defense at home. Led by senior middle linebacker Shane Cassatt, junior defensive back Dailey and sophomore defensive lineman Charles Courtney, Alex’s younger brother, MHS has allowed just 9.0 points a game at home compared to 40.0 an outing on the road.
McLouth, of course, was dealt a huge blow recently when senior Trevor Roberts suffered a compound fracture in his lower left leg on Sept. 24 and subsequently had to have the leg amputated.
Stewart said the injury has been hard on everybody and the players have done a good job handling the saddening scenario.
“I know for these kids and everybody in the community,” Stewart said, “it changes the way you think and how you respond to everything that happens.”
Stewart said Roberts, who was on the sideline Friday to watch his teammates win, has been an inspiration.
“Trevor’s courage in this whole deal has been something,” the coach said. “That has translated to others, kids and adults.”
With what the Bulldogs have gone through of late, a tough district slate, which begins this week, might not seem so daunting. McLouth’s three district foes — Pleasant Ridge, Rossville and Silver Lake — have a combined record of 15-3, with PRHS leading the way at 6-0.
Stewart said all three would provide a challenge for McLouth, especially because two of the three contests will be on the road. If Pleasant Ridge, RHS and SLHS weren’t all in the same district, Stewart added, each likely would be headed to the Class 3A playoffs.
Because only the top two in the district advance to the postseason, the Bulldogs understand the importance of the next three weeks.
“This is our playoffs right here, starting this week,” Stewart said of McLouth’s 7 p.m. Friday road game at Pleasant Ridge.