Setting the tone: Blue Jays look to seniors to ‘set the tone’ for program’s futureFor Tyler Hennings, it’s about respect. That was the goal he and the other three senior captains set for the Jamestown High School football team during the preseason, and it’ll likely continue until the foursome walks off the field together for the last time. A winless season a year ago put in motion a senior class bent on improvement — on the field as well as in the weight room. Add to that motivational first-year head coach Tim Fletcher, and the Blue Jays certainly appear to have the recipe for success.
By: By Chris Aarhus, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
For Tyler Hennings, it’s about respect.
That was the goal he and the other three senior captains set for the Jamestown High School football team during the preseason, and it’ll likely continue until the foursome walks off the field together for the last time.
A winless season a year ago put in motion a senior class bent on improvement — on the field as well as in the weight room. Add to that motivational first-year head coach Tim Fletcher, and the Blue Jays certainly appear to have the recipe for success.
But as Hennings believes, results bring respect.
“We just wanted to get respect back after coming off a year like last year, when games were over by halftime,” said Hennings, a 6-foot-5, 290-pound tackle. “The seniors talked quite a bit over the offseason and made sure we got guys in the weight room. We want to make sure we play tough every game. We’ve got some guys on the roster that are very good football players.
“We knew if we put our hearts to something, we’d win a few games and hopefully, change people’s minds about us.”
A win tonight would go a long way. The Blue Jays (2-3 West Region, 2-6 overall) host Minot (3-2, 6-2) at 7 p.m. at Ernie Gates Field with a playoff berth on the line.
Hennings, however, may not get to see it after an asthma attack sidelined him over the weekend. He’s questionable for the game, but Fletcher doesn’t quite see it that way.
“He’s the kind of kid, where we’re expecting him to bounce back,” Fletcher said. “When one of (our kids’) brothers goes down, they’re gonna feel it. …Until I do not see him walk out on that field, I’m gonna expect him to be there.”
Hennings was also optimistic, though it’ll all depend on how he woke up this morning.
“I’m really determined to make sure I’m better for (the game),” Hennings said. “I really want to finish out my senior year of football. …When I get something in my mind and want to do it, it usually works out for me.”
If he doesn’t play, it’ll be up to the team’s other three senior captains to lead. Quarterback Matt Grounds, lineman Cullen Goter and wide receiver Sean Lindberg have been joined Hennings in being instrumental when it comes to leadership duties.
But that was just one of the duties assigned by Fletcher. He also tasked them with setting the tone for the future, certainly difficult all in itself.
“I told them at the very beginning, ‘You guys are the transition. You’re gonna be the ones to set the tone for these younger classes coming up,’ ” Fletcher said. “The work ethic you show in the offseason and in the weight room and getting things done, and the tempo you bring to practice, that’s gonna set the tone.”
Though all four captains are looked at each day in practice, it’s hard to find one under more pressure than Grounds. The signal caller has his hands on the ball every play and is counted on to keep the offense moving.
“I guess I go out and play my hardest and do everything I can to get my players the ball and play smart,” Grounds said.
Lindberg can attest to that, having proven to be a legitimate deep threat this season. He has 13 catches for 282 yards and three touchdowns.
“I’ve been happy (with my performance), but then again, I feel like I could do a little better,” Lindberg said. “Happy, but not content, I guess.”
Goter, a center, joins Hennings, Nathan Schulte and Thomas Mortenson on the offensive line.
“Considering what we came from and that we got a new coach, this team has taken dramatic steps from what we used to be,” Goter said. “I think it’s going in a positive (direction), and that’s a good thing.”
Jamestown doesn’t have to get too bogged down by scenarios.
— If it beats Minot by six points or more, it claims the fourth and final spot from the West Region, with Dickinson No. 3 and Minot missing the postseason. Bismarck High and Bismarck Century are already Nos. 1 and 2, respectively.
— If it beats Minot — regardless of point margin — and Dickinson loses to Mandan, Jamestown would get the No. 3 seed with Minot fourth and Dickinson out.
“If some good things happen, we’re in the playoffs,” Hennings said. “It kind of blows my mind when I think about it.”
Fletcher shared in Hennings’ excitement, but noted that first thing is first — win a home game. The Blue Jays have played their best football and logged both of their wins on the road.
“Let’s think about winning a game at Gates Field and go from there,” Fletcher said. “Let’s get it done in front of our home crowd at Gates Field.”
2012 Jamestown schedule
Aug. 24 — Lost 22-19 at Devils Lake; Aug. 31 — Lost 26-0 vs. Grand Forks Red River; Sept. 7 — Won 13-6 at Mandan, 7 p.m.; Sept. 14 — Lost 49-6 vs. Dickinson; Sept. 21 — Lost 35-8 vs. Bismarck Century; Sept. 28 — Lost 62-6 at Bismarck High; Oct. 5 — Lost 16-14 vs. Grand Forks Central; Oct. 12 — Won 28-18 at Williston; Oct. 17 — vs. Minot, 7 p.m.
Jamestown season statistics
Scoring by quarter
JHS 26 24 29 15 — 94
Opp. 55 104 42 33 — 234
Offense JHS Opp.
Rushing 779 1,779
Passing 932 784
Total 1,711 2,563
Rushing: J, Anthony Cook 163-494, Matt Grounds 51-175, Eathan Gumke 23-73, Taylor Orr 25-69, Ryan Hillerud 1-6, Ross Monson 1-0.
Passing: J, Grounds 50-108-13 802, Joey Gebhardt 1-3-0 30, Monson 0-0-0 0.
Receiving: J, C.J. Soulis 17-286, Sean Lindberg 13-282, Tyler Ukestad 8-117, Marc Wagner 7-90, Anthony Cook 5-36, Ben Walz 1-27.
Scoring: Grounds 8 passing TDs, 2 rushing TD, 1 FG and 2 extra points, Sean Lindberg 3 receiving TDs, C.J. Soulis 3 receiving TDs, Tyler Ukestad 2 receiving TDs, Anthony Cook 1 rushing TD, 2-point conversion, Taylor Orr 1 rushing TD, 1 punt return TD, Jordan Weil 1 fumble recovery TD, team 2 (safety).
Turnovers: JHS 24 (13 interceptions, 11 fumbles), opponents 8 (5 fumbles, 3 interceptions).
Sun sports writer Chris Aarhus can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or by email at email@example.com