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Closing out close games key to Plymouth’s fortunes this season

 Closing out close games key to Plymouth’s fortunes this season

Plymouth senior quarterback Sam Plencner fires a spiral at a receiver during a 7-on-7 drill.

Plymouth’s football program has opted not to adopt a motivational motto this season.

Instead, the Wildcats have embraced a single-word motivator: Finish.

“We have to finish games, finish blocks, finish drives,” said third-year Head Coach Greg Souldourian.

“A prime example is last year against Fordson when one of our drives got stopped at the six-inch line. It’s no guarantee we would have won the game if we would have scored, but it would have changed our entire mindset.”

Welcome back, Jaxon

It will be a whole lot easier for the Wildcats to close out long possessions in the end zone this fall now that Jaxon McCaig is back and healthy. McCaig exploded on the varsity scene as a junior in last season’s opener against Livonia Churchill with 203 yards rushing and two touchdowns before suffering a season-ending injury in the third game of the campaign.

Its large and mobile offensive line will be an asset for Plymouth this season.
Its large and mobile offensive line will be an asset for Plymouth this season

“Jaxon has worked really hard during the off-season,” Souldourian said. “He’s 6-foot-3, 220 and he’s very elusive. He’s not going to be brought down by one guy or arm tackles.

“Having Jaxon back sets up our passing game better, too, because opponents have to worry about stopping him.”

Next to McCaig, the Wildcats’ most-valuable offensive player is senior quarterback Sam Plencner, whose less-than-prototypical size for a QB doesn’t limit him one bit.

“Sam has a great handle on our offense,” Souldourian emphasized. “He has a lot of moxie. His teammates look up to him because he works so hard, extends plays and he’s a dual run-throw threat.”

Solid depth

Plencner will be backed up by Logan Pheiffer, a junior who brings a wealth of athleticism to the position, Souldourian noted.

Junior running back Nick DeKiere and senior Nathan Gillick will play key roles in the Wildcats’ offense, which averaged a whopping 186 yards per game rushing in 2022.

Leading the receiving corps will be Luc Damiani, who is the team’s Mr. Everything. Damiani also starts at safety and is the Wildcats’ punter.

A pass falls just beyond the outstretched fingertips of a Wildcat receiver during a 7-on-7 drill
A pass falls just beyond the outstretched fingertips of a Wildcat receiver during a 7 on 7 drill

“Cameron Witt has come a long way, and Jimmy Cleveland has had a good camp for us,” Souldourian said of two of his receivers.

Welcome back, O-Line

Plymouth’s 2022 starting offensive line, which fueled its almost-200-yards-per-game running attack, is back intact: Idrys Cotton, Carter Adamski, Alex Witt, Jay Shqau and Lucas Barnes.

Among the defensive standouts are expected to be Barnes, Cam Witt, Joe Portman, Damiani and Laron Davis.

For the second straight season the Wildcats will be opening in an out-of-the-ordinary venue. Last year, they debuted at the University of Michigan’s “Big House”; this year, they traveled to perennial power Traverse City Central, stopping for a practice mid-trek at Alma College.

“This senior class’s freshman year was the COVID year, so we wanted to do something special for their final season,” Souldourian explained.

Ed Wright can be reached at 734-664-4657 or edwright@socialhousenews.com.

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Ed Wright

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