FREMONT — Fremont interim head football coach Todd Herndon believes he is working with a different group than he has been in the recent past. The Eagles have some wins in the earlygoing to back that up.
Fremont led 35-0 at the half against a rather young River Valley team from the southwest corner of Michigan and cruised to a 41-14 victory on the Mustangs’ turf in Three Oaks.
The Eagles are 2-1. The last time the team has started that well was 2001 during a strong run for the program under coach Dan Callahan. That 2001 team lost in a sectional final to Southern Wells, who went on to win the Class 1A state title.
Fremont bounced back from a 56-0 loss at Adrian (Mich.) Lenawee Christian on Aug. 30. The Cougars are senior-laden and fast and scored seven times in the first 22 offensive plays to lead 49-0 at the half.
“I think we bounced back well,” Herndon said. “We had an eye opener against a talented group from Lenawee. I don’t know if we’ll see a team passing like they do.”
Herndon said big changes were made in Fremont’s defensive scheme that created a lot of success against a River Valley team that rarely throws the football. The Eagles had at least five takeaways, including two interceptions.
“They are a fullhouse, wishbone team. They had no passing attempts in their opener against Galesburg-Augusta,” Herndon said of the Mustangs. “They have a center that goes 320 (pounds) and a guard that is 290, 295. On film, we’ve never seen them punt.
“Our defense wasn’t just wanting them not to score. They did not want them to get a yard,” he added. “Every snap, our offensive kids wanted to take it to the house. We had plenty of fight.”
The offensive contributions were widespread for the Eagles. Junior quarterback-receiver Kameron Colclasure led the way with a couple of touchdowns.
Herndon said the team is mostly healthy. It’s also a bigger roster that is more knowledgeable about football than it has been recently. Over 40 kids are playing football at Fremont. The precise number is 44 based on the roster issued at its season opener with Southern Wells on Aug. 23.
One example of the better understanding of football Herndon mentioned was from sophomore defensive back Logan Brace taking what he learned on film about River Valley. The Mustangs were so run heavy all game long, and unveiled a different wrinkle in the fourth quarter where the tight end released. Brace made the proper adjustment to that wrinkle, and was a proud moment for Herndon.
“We needed to get down to basics so we can do things at a good speed,” Herndon said. “But what the guys are picking up on film is amazing. They are putting in the time and effort.
“When things go south before, we would lay down, get in trouble and not do the things we need to do. This is a different group.”
Fremont has grown largely without coach Jim Hummer on the sidelines and the practice field. Hummer has been with his wife Dana after she suffered a stroke in mid-August just before the season started. That will likely be the case for much of what’s left this season.
Herndon said Dana Hummer’s condition has improved to where she has left the intensive care unit and has begun rehabilitation. Herndon said Jim Hummer has done some game preparation from home during quiet time at night.
“Jim has been in contact with us several times a day. He had a nice film breakdown before the River Valley game,” Herndon said. “But we told him his focus needs to be with Dana.
“The last 10 days have been encouraging. The progress is a marathon, not a sprint. I’ve been through it with my brother (Mike, who is the father of Eagle boys golf coach Nick Herndon). You have to take it one day at a time. Football is just a game.
“We’ve had awesome support from officials and opposing teams. There was a pregame prayer for Dana before the Lenawee Christian game.”
Opportunity still awaits Fremont with home games against Fairfield and Central Noble over the next two weeks. The Falcons are next Friday with kickoff set for Fremont’s homecoming game at 7:30 p.m.
“We’re ready for conference games,” Todd Herndon said. “Fairfield is up. Central Noble will always be a fight. We’re a lot more hopeful at 2-and-1 than we would be at 0-and-3.
The Falcons might be the biggest comeback story in northern Indiana football this season after reaching something resembling rock bottom in 2018 under new coach Matt Thacker, a former Lakeland assistant. They were low in numbers and experience and allowed 54.8 points per game while scoring only 27 points in an 0-9 season. It was so bad that Fairfield had to forfeit a game in Week 4.
Fremont can relate as it canceled a Week 9 game with Lakeland in 2016. But the Falcons have bounced back with a 2-1 start the season. They only lost 20-14 to Class 5A Goshen in their opener, then beat the Osceola Grace 22-18 last week and Central Noble 8-0 in overtime on Friday. All those games were at home.
“They’ve been brought back quickly. They have some athletes. We’re excited to get them back on the schedule,” Herndon said of Fairfield. “We can’t take any time off.”