Sabers look to break declining trend on offense

Manistee Catholic Central quarterback Ben Feliczak (right) hands off to halfback Jeremy Bigalke during practice on Monday. (Matt Wenzel/News Advocate)

For all its complicated schemes and intricacies, football comes down to a simple formula.

The team with the most points wins.

The offensive numbers for Manistee Catholic Central have been trending down in recent years, as have the wins, so the Sabers are hoping for a more explosive season.

“There’s no doubt about it,” said MCC coach Dave Russell, “we’ve got to score when we’re on the offensive side.”

MCC went 9-1 in 2008 and posted a total of 409 points. Since then, the production has fallen off to 388 points in 2009 (8-2), 353 in 2010 (7-3), 254 in 2011 (4-5) and 202 during a 5-4 2012 season. Last year’s offensive numbers also include a 2-0 forfeit win against Big Rapids Crossroads Charter Academy, so the Sabers actually averaged 25 points a game over their eight games, which isn’t a terrible total, but they yielded 24.1 per game.

“The more points the better, right?” said senior quarterback Ben Feliczak.

Although MCC graduated four starters and lost quarterback Alex Bialik to a transfer, the Sabers should benefit from the return of a number of offensive threats.

Feliczak, who got a few starts under center last year and plenty of snaps, will enter the season as the starting quarterback. He’ll be aided by an experienced returning backfield with senior halfbacks Jeremy Bigalke and Alex Carter along with fullbacks Jason Kaminski and Kyle Stone as MCC will again operate out of the Wing T and spread.

Injuries took a toll on the Sabers and their offense last season with as many as seven starters sidelined at one point, including Bigalke (shoulder) and Kaminski (broken leg), who both missed significant time.

“Last year we had a lot of injuries and everything so a lot of the new players came in — I’m not saying they did anything bad, they were perfectly fine,” Bigalke said, “but I think it just takes experience, focus, technique and all that stuff.”

As much as the Sabers would like to put up more points, they’d also like to prevent them.

“I think, if anything, that’s going to be our strong point, our defense,” Russell said.

The Sabers gave up big numbers in a pair of losses last season — 49-41 against Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart in Week 2 and 48-13 against Baldwin in Week 4.

“We’ve got to get that (point total) up and we’ve got to hold teams to less,” Kaminski said. “The Sacred Heart game and Baldwin both come to mind. We can’t be letting people score 40, 50 points on us. You’ve got to take some pride defensively.”

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