Big Rapids football team looks back on memorable 2018 season

Big Rapids head coach Mike Selzer (center) hopes to build on this season’s 5-5 playoff berth next season. (Pioneer file photo)

BIG RAPIDS — The Big Rapids football team’s season may have ended with a 26-3 loss to Alma in Division 4 postseason play, but there was still much to be proud of.

The Cardinals finished with a 5-5 (4-3) record and qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2015.

“I feel that the guys did a great job of playing together and jelling as a team,” head coach Mike Selzer said. “They worked hard during the summer and especially hard during the season. This was one of the best groups to coach as each practice and week they worked to get better.

“This group met expectations on the field, as oneof our goals was to make the playoffs. Off the field, they exceeded our expectations; they acted like a team, included others and represented their school very well.”

Highlights from the season include winning the Brass Bell trophy and beating Chip Hills for the first time since 2012.  The Cardinals averaged 30.3 points per game and scoring the fourth-most points for a season in school history with 303.

Quarterback Jayden Mason Mason was one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the area this season, having completed 44-of-85 passes for 694 yards and eight touchdown passes and six interceptions while carrying the ball 118 times for 986 yards and 12 touchdowns during the regular season. Jackob Martinson was Mason’s favorite target with 18 catches for 361 yards and two touchdowns. Martinson also played defense as a cover corner.

Running back Jace Gray carried the ball 33 times for 353 yards (10.7 yards/carry) and six touchdowns while tallying 14 tackles and one interception at cornerback. Elliott Blair was Big Rapids’ leading tackler (54 tackles) and short-yardage back (four touchdowns) and Adam Bollman (49 Tackles)was the team’s second-leading tackler and tight-end.

Tom Lobart was Big Rapids’ utility lineman, having played at every position on the offensive line as well as the defensive line. Offensive lineman Matt Zeilinger was a strong pass-blocker who was good at getting to the second level of the defense.

The Cardinals will lose a lot of experience from this group next season.

“We lose 20 seniors, 14 of which were four-year players,” Selzer said. “It will be hard to replace Blair and Bollman at the linebacker spots. Martinson and Mason were a strong run-pass threat.”

That being said, the Cardinals do have plenty of talent coming back. Jacob Alber and DJ Greenbay return on the offensive line and will be entering their third year of varsity play. RB/DB Jacob Roach will return after being sidelined most of the 2018 season with a broken collarbone. Larry Rodgers and Trevin Rosenogle will return to lead the linebacking core.

“We will be young with only eight returners,” Selzer said. “Alber and Greenbay will be joined by some young hard working linemen so they will need to lead up front. The junior varsity team finished 7-2 and has some good athletes moving up to varsity.”

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