South Haven football has some positives to build on for the first time in a while.
The Rams snapped a 29-game losing streak in the second game of the 2020 season, topping Niles 34-20.
South Haven went on to win four more games, including a 34-7 post-season victory over former Wolverine Conference rival Dowagiac, to finish 5-3 in the pandemic- shortened season. The Rams hadn’t had a winning season or won a playoff game since 2008.
“That (first win) really lifted the burden off of the kids,” said South Haven coach Mark Eddy, now entering his third season. “We could see it in their faces. Once that happened, then they were able to be a little more relaxed, just go do what you’ve got to do.”
The Rams can now aim higher with some success under their belt.
“You have to have lofty goals,” Eddy said. “We talk about winning the league.
“Looking at the big picture, we can compete, but nobody’s going to lay down for us. We’ve just got to take care of ourselves.”
Though the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference has just four teams playing 11-man football, winning it won’t be an easy task. Defending league champion Buchanan was 8-1 last season, Brandywine has finished .500 or better in 10 of the last 11 seasons, and Berrien Springs returns much of last year’s team and is led by local coaching legend Elliot Uzelac.
South Haven will again operate from a single-wing offense.
Senior running backs Trent Till and Ray Woodall will lead the ground game and play key roles on defense. Till, an all-region selection last season, will line up at outside linebacker, with Woodall at strong safety.
Junior Justin Frazier is the quarterback, although in the single-wing, that position often ends up blocking rather than taking the snap. Frazier will also play inside linebacker on defense.
Senior William Bettis will be an important leader on the line, playing guard on offense and tackle on defense. Junior Elliott Williamson is also a returning starter up front and will play offensive tackle and defensive end.
The Rams open their home season at 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 2 against Coloma. They then travel to Benton Harbor, Friday, Sept. 10 and return home for three games in a row at Ratcliffe Field – Friday, Sept. 17 vs. Buchanan, Sept. 24 vs. Allegan, and Oct. 1 to face Brandywine. All home games begin at 7 p.m.