Impressive Second Half Reason for Hope for Macomb
Macomb went on the road for one final time in 2019, this time to Hamilton, IL, for a matchup with the West Hancock Titans. Despite a rough first half that saw the Bombers trail 22-6, Macomb put up 30 points in a valiant, entertaining second half to lose 38-36.
There were a few major changes in this game for Macomb, some made prior to the game, others made at the half. The first of which came at the quarterback position, where McKenna Gabbei got his first full game of action at QB in 2019, supplanting VJ Lane. Gabbei struggled early on, but made a number of excellent throws in the second half, including a 50-yard bomb to Spencer Whitney late to get the score to 38-36. Overall on the night, Gabbei completed 64% of his passes, threw for 192 yards and that one Whitney touchdown.
One of the other major changes we saw came in the second half, where all-time leading receiver John Ogle made the switch to running back, to accommodate for the injured Max Swedeen. Zach Dysart joined him to create an interesting 4-receiver look, though 2 were in the backfield. This allowed a lot of different looks for Macomb, plenty of option plays and sweeps with the added speed of of the two talented pass catchers. The running game opening up allowed for Gabbei to have open passing lanes as well, part of the reason he was able to find a streaking Whitney open on the left sideline for that big touchdown play. Ogle’s versatility showed up in the stat-book as well, as the star player racked up 141 yards on the ground on just 11 carries, while he added a mightily impressive 3 touchdowns.
The defense stepped up, thanks to some fundamental and positional changes, in the second half as well. West Hancock running back Isaac Munson ran for more than 200 yards in the first half, touched the ball on nearly every play and showed no signs of slowing down as the Bomber defense could not stay in front of him. It seemed like every play he was already 2 or 3 yards beyond the line of scrimmage by the time he was first contacted by the defense. Macomb moved its middle linebacker to more of a gap-protection position as opposed to a blitzing role, and the Bombers were able to slow Munson down to “only” a 100 yard second half. Overall, the adjustments made led to a second half that saw the Bombers outscore the Titans, 30-16.
Head Coach Tony Westen deserves a ton of credit for keeping this team motivated and in the game to mount this comeback, as does his entire staff. It can be difficult to find motivation at times with a winless record, but they seem to find it week in and week out. Credit also has to go to the players, for keeping their heads up and fighting through some very difficult weeks to get to this point. While the Bombers did lose the game, they showed real grit, determination and fight. They showed massive improvements, and the offense ran through Gabbei looked more potent and multiple in its looks than it has all season. There are things to be proud of for Macomb, though the sledding does not get any easier. The Bombers will return home for the final 3 games of the season, the first of which comes Friday, October 11, against rivals Quincy-Notre Dame. QND comes in with an impressive 4-2 record, needing one win to reach playoff consideration for the IHSA tournament. Macomb will go in 0-6, though with the improvements they made in the second half of last week’s game, this should be a good fight. Kick-off is 7 PM at Bomber Field.