By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Mike Biller could see the signs during summer workouts that this year’s Goshen High School freshmen football team could be something special.
He was proven right as the Redskins recently completed an undefeated season, including all seven games in the NLC.
“The kids had a great attitude over the summer,” Biller said. “Every workout we had there were over 30 kids there. From that aspect the kids bought into what we wanted to do.”
Biller is a former Redskin player and has been involved in coaching for the past 29 seasons. This is his 13th season coaching the freshmen.
“I’ve been at the high school for 27 years after spending two at Towncrest Junior High,” he said.
Goshen used to have two junior highs — Towncrest and Whiteman — for grades 7-9.
During the season, the Redskins defeated Fort Carroll 20-7, Elkhart Central 27-0, Elkhart Memorial 39-16, NorthWood 28-14, Concord 27-26, Warsaw 27-20, Northridge 28-7, Plymouth 20-19 and Wawasee 41-0.
“Winning all our games is a goal every season,” the coach said. “In three of the last five years we have done so in the NLC.”
Goshen outscored its opponents 252-109 this season.
The Redskins went 7-0 in the NLC, followed by Plymouth 6-1, Warsaw 5-2, Concord 4-3, NorthWood 3-4, Wawasee, Northridge and Memorial all 1-6.
The team made a rather remarkable turnaround from their 8th grade campaign.
“They didn’t have a lot of success in middle school,” Biller said. “But they saw the class ahead of them (this year’s sophomores) won only one game in the 8th grade and then went 7-0 in the NLC as freshmen. The kids thought we can do that or better.
“The two classes are pretty close. The kids grew up playing together in JFL and Little League.”
Jim Pickard, Brock Maust and Craig Frazier are assistant coaches for the freshmen.
“I’m so lucky to have them,” Biller said. “Jim is the head wrestling coach and has had a lot of success, Brock is the head boys track coach and has had a lot of success and Craig is the best football coach I have ever worked with.”
Goshen’s offense averaged 292 yards of total offense per game, 227 rushing and 65 passing.
Cam Kline was the leading rusher with 681 yards on 68 carries (10.01 average), followed by Christian Horton 604 on 86 (7.02) and Brandon Scott 597 on 99 (6.03). Kline ran for 12 touchdowns, Horton five and Scott four.
Kline was the quarterback, completing 36-of-66 passes (54.6 percent) for 555 yards and seven TDs. Brady Bechtel was the top receiver with 14 catches for 284 yards and four scores, Scott 10 for 133, Dalton Damron three for 69 and a score and Jesse Rhodes three for 28 and two scores.
“We have good skill kids, but a lot of the credit goes to the offensive line,” Biller said.
Starters in the offensive line were 6-6 (240) Hunter Pearson, 5-9 (190) Rodney Spencer, 6-0 (177) Miguel Navarro, 5-9 (215) Derek Paz, 5-11 (180) Jordan Holley and 5-8 (165) Logan Holdeman.
“The line allowed Kline, Bechtel and Scott to make plays,” the coach said. “The line only allowed two sacks all season.”
Leaders on the defense were Damron 43 solo tackles and nine assists, Bechtel and Horton both 42 and eight, Dave Marshall 32 and 11, Trace Lambert 30 and six, Paz 26 and five, Kline 21 and two, Brenn McKee 15 and four, Corbin Harrison 14 and five Jason Fry 12 and three and Lorenzo Camacho 11 and two.
“Early in the season the offense had problems with turnovers and we relied on the defense,” Biller said. “The offense got things turned around and only had two turnovers over the final six games.”