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BUCKNER – Oldham County’s spring football game Friday night was a good teaching tool for new coach Mike Shatzer.
The White Team trailed 12-0 at halftime after two touchdowns by the Blue Team’s Isiah Kelly in the first half.
“We told them at halftime, you could either do what you used to do and hang your head and succumb to defeat, or you can play hard the second half and see what happens,” Shatzer said.
OC’s White Team came back to tie the game 12-12 before getting a game-winning two-point conversion on a pass from quarterback James Harding to Trey Tucker, winning 14-12.
“That really says a lot,” Shatzer said. “I think James Harding stepped up as a leader.”
Shatzer was hired in February to revive a program that’s fallen on hard times.
OC went 2-9 last year in its final season under former coach Matt Brown, including an 0-3 mark in district play.
The Colonels were routed by Male in the first round of the playoffs, ending Brown’s six-year tenure at OC.
Shatzer said this offseason has been an opportunity for players to compete with a blank slate.
He’s also encouraged players to recruit friends to join the team.
Two new players who should see playing time this fall are Ben Leaton at free safety and Alex McIntosh at fullback, Shatzer said. Both had strong seasons this winter for OC wrestling.
“A lot of the new faces that came here, we didn’t have to recruit because they knew we’re going to have change and things are going to be different,” said rising senior Brian Barmantje, the team’s starting middle linebacker. “...Now that we have a new coach, it’s time everybody comes out ready to play.”
Shatzer has coached from afar for most of his short tenure as he finishes the school year at his teaching job in Montgomery, Ala.
However he was able to arrange his schedule to be present for almost all of the Colonels’ spring practice sessions, which concluded with the spring game Friday.
Shatzer brought energy to the table that the program needed, Harding said.
“Coach Shatzer’s brought a new feel, a new enthusiasm,” Harding said. “He brings more emotion to the team.”
Harding is competing with Jeremiah Bosco and his brother, Ammon, for the starting QB job.
Shatzer was pleased with how all three competed and said he’ll wait to make a decision on who starts until August.
“All three quarterbacks did some good things for us,” Shatzer said. “I don’t want to settle on one guy. We’re still evaluating.”
Jason Henry and Parker Hennings stood out to Shatzer running the ball this spring, he said.
Kelly has done well after being moved to a pass-catching role for the Colonels after playing on the line last season.
Barmantje “set the tone” for the defense during the spring, Shatzer said.
“We need him to be a defensive stopper,” Shatzer said of Barmantje. “We need him to make the calls on defense and make tackles and make plays. He knows that and I think the kids really respond to him.”
Shatzer and his family will move to town after this school year in time for the start of summer camp this July.
He’ll incorporate more of his playbook then and get ready for the 2014 season, OC’s last as a 6A team before moving to 5A in 2015.
“We’re getting back in the weight room starting (Monday),” Shatzer said. “...We’re letting our kids know that we’re not taking time off.”
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