Whatever happens the rest of the way, Thursday’s 62-32 victory over Riverside was a notable triumph for the Plainview football program.
The 6-0 Pirates — less than 15 years removed from a state championship — are assured of their first winning record since 2008, three seasons before it dropped down to eight-man play.
Changes, and lots of them. And senior leadership took hold.
Changes from Kyle Schmidt, an assistant at Battle Creek the past eight seasons, who is in his first season as a head football coach.
Senior leadership from a group of four — Jacob Hoffman, Nate Christensen, Collin Gale and John Schlote — who were credited by Schmidt as a huge reason for the team’s start.
“They’ve never skipped a beat. I give them something to do, they model it and bring their teammates along and encourage them,” Schmidt said. “It’s really tough to come by, and it’s made things a lot easier.”
This isn’t the first time Schmidt has been part of a coaching transition. In fact, lessons learned from the first time have been instituted this time around in Plainview.
“I got to be a part of the program when (current Battle Creek coach) Andrew (Carlson) first took over, see how he took over and the changes he implemented,” Schmidt said. “There were things we would’ve changed if we could’ve done it differently. Being a part of it, and going through it once, I could bring those changes. Implementing it once before made it easier, having been there and done it before.”
There were three things Schmidt wanted to accomplish this season: install his scheme, implement his weight-room standards and develop relationships with the players.
What he didn’t mention was the Pirates beating their first six opponents by an average margin of 56-15, including a notable win over Riverside — which came in having won its past four games — on Thursday night. The offensive numbers in particular aren’t what would be expected out of a team led by a former defensive coordinator. Schmidt spent the final seven seasons leading the Battle Creek defense.
“I thought they had the potential to do a lot of good things,” Schmidt said. “We had the pieces there, but I didn’t think they would take off as quickly or as potently as they have.”
Offensively, the Pirates have done it all, whether it be a “ground and pound” style or spread. On Thursday night, Plainview used three of its seniors — Hoffman, Schlote and Christensen — at quarterback.
“I thought schematically, we could do a few different things out of those formations,” Schmidt said. “I’ve got a unique group and a great group of kids.”
It led to both Hoffman and Christensen scoring four rushing touchdowns in the 62-32 victory.
“The boys played well,” Schmidt said. “It’s hard to figure out what you’re going to get with the crazy weather and a good team coming in, but they handled it well.”
After this week’s meeting with Winside (0-6), the Pirates get another chance to prove themselves when they travel to undefeated and Class D No. 1 Humphrey St. Francis to end the regular season.
Thing is, big games like that haven’t been around Plainview for a while.
At the tail end of its days in 11-man play, Plainview made the playoffs from 2004 through 2008, including its run to the 2005 state championship in Class C2.
Eight-man has been a different story.
Plainview lost its first 12 games in eight-man and 23 of its first 24, including another 11-game skid. The Pirates went 4-4 in both 2015 and 2016, then recorded their first playoff appearance and win before finishing with a 5-5 record in 2017.
Last year — its first season in Class D2 — Plainview went 3-5 in the regular season, with a 1-4 record against teams that finished the regular season 6-2 or better. It lost 40-8 to Randolph in Week 2 but played the Cardinals tougher in a 30-20 loss in the first round of the playoffs.
Plainview won 30 regular-season games from 2004 through 2008. Since then, the Pirates have won 29 — and that includes this season’s 6-0 start. So yes, there’s more excitement around town this year.
“There’s a lot of excitement when people come in and out of school,” Schmidt said. “It’s just a fun atmosphere to be a part of.”
The Class C ratings have changed every week this season, and this is no exception.
North Bend Central (6-1) replaces Valentine (4-3) after the Tigers blanked David City Aquinas and the Badgers lost at Gothenburg.
The rest of the Class C list is unchanged with big wins by the top four teams and Hartington Cedar Catholic edging Crofton.
Over in Class D, I’m not sure what to think of Creighton’s 20-12 loss at North Central last week. For now, Wisner-Pilger moves up to fourth, with Bloomfield and Plainview following. Lutheran High Northeast is promoted to seventh, and Chambers/Wheeler Central/Ewing follows in eighth, with Creighton relegated to ninth. Allen rounds out the ratings again.
The top three remained steady in Class D.
With big games coming up, don’t be surprised to see more changes to the ratings before the playoffs get underway.