Talk to me about how the year has been going so far?
“It's been a real tough year so far. We've had a lot of close games. I think the four games we lost were by a total of 15 points. I think the biggest one was by seven points. The rest were two or three. We had a loss in overtime, so it's been tough. One of our wins was by three with nine seconds to go. The last five games were barn burners.”
Can you put your finger on what the problem is?
“You know if we could find one thing wrong, we could fix it. We’re young on the defensive line and that hasn’t helped. But every loss has been a chance to win by sustaining the drive on offense, or playing better special teams…things to off-set the young defensive line. I really can't say it has been one thing. That is the toughest thing. If it's just one thing, you can find that one thing, correct it, and stop it. We've had solid offense, but there has been times when we needed to get a first down late in the game to sustain a drive, and we haven’t come through. Or on defense we have a 3rd and 15, and we let the ball just get over the heads of the linebackers for 16 yards.”
So individually, how is Antonio doing for you?
“He's had a really solid year. He has 95 carries for 879 yards, 12 touchdowns. He has caught three passes for 36 yards. Passing the ball he is 22/54, for 379 yards, three TDs, and four interceptions. We aren't a big passing team. But there are kids that have to catch the ball; it's a 50/50 deal. He has 109 yards in punt returns eight punts for a 13-yard average and a touchdown, which he ran on Okemos. He returned one kickoff. They don't like to kick the ball to him; but he returned one for 30 yards. He is contributing on defense and pass situations, but he hasn’t had an interception because they try to throw away from him.”
“But he has been really good about letting me utilize his talents in different ways. He might do a double quarterback situation. That is when he caught out of the backfield. We might line him up as a wide receiver this week just for a change up and throw some balls to him. Put him in as a wingback and have him run some jet sweeps. He's not averse to doing any of that stuff. And that's what's great about him. He's a team player and he just wants to win games and have some fun. And we have a good second quarterback that we have no problem with putting in the game if something happens. We are at the point where we have to shake things up a bit, put some folks on the edge.”
“We are going to play Eastern, who's struggling, but a solid team. They have some good athletes. Then we play Holt, and Lansing Everett. Lansing Everett is one of the top teams in the state. So, our goal is to win out, go 5-4 and see where the chips fall for the playoffs. We haven't given up, and that's the great thing about these kids. They just keep coming back and coming back. I keep trying to come up with a different speech at the end of the game. And at the end of a tight game, it's like, what can I tell them? All I can think is to stick together. You win together...you lose together. And our motto is to win together, and we have to believe in it. And if you start pointing fingers, you will have 3 pointing back at you.”
This is but asmall portion of the interview with Coach Fairly. He went on at great length about Antonio Bass and his outlook for the future. The rest of his thoughtful comments will appear in an upcoming issue of GoBlueWolverine the Magazine. In the meantime, stay tuned to GoBlueWolverine.com for part one of a two part interview with Antonio Bass. The super athlete discusses his season, his leader, his timetable and more.