After housing half a dozen senior football players on the roster last season, the Havre Blue Ponies have just three this year. It is a str
ange occurrence in Class A football, but head coach Jason Christenson as well as the rest of the Ponies are dealing just fine.
But how could you not? Any team in the conference would undoubtedly welcome in the talents of Thurman Holdsclaw, Zach Plum, or Chet Shrauger, and the Ponies have benefitted greatly from their skills and leadership.
“Just from the side of being strange,” Christenson said. “Coming from one of the bigger Class A schools and having only three seniors is weird. But it’s not bad, they are great kids and you kind of lose the fact that you only have three seniors. Everybody else has stepped up and is working hard, so you kind of lose that fact, but it is still strange.
“We mostly just have to lead the freshmen and sophomores,” Holdsclaw added about the senior leadership roles. “Because the juniors also really stepped up this year. The starting juniors especially have stepped up, and that made it easier, not all of the pressure is on us seniors for leadership.”
It may be hard for a group as small as three to really take a team by the reins with their words, but with their actions, the three seniors have had no issues there. Plum, Holdsclaw and Shrauger are consistently taking over the headlines and box scores.
“We just play hard every play, we can’t take a play off,” Plum said. “It has been pretty cool because me, Chet and Thurman have gotten pretty tight this season, but it also kind of sucks because the team is pretty inexperienced, and we are always making mistakes and it gets frustrating at times.”
Shrauger is 6-0, 175 pound safety that terrorizes the opposing offense. Each week he is amongst the team leaders in tackles, and may be the team’s best open field tackler. He has shown he can help prevent big passing plays, as well as flies to the to ball and fills holes to limit the running game. And if you wouldn’t know it from his 110 percent and 100 mile per hour style of play, but Shrauger has also overcome two very serious injuries, one last year and one two weeks ago, to be a very important piece of the puzzle.
And Plum and Holdsclaw have gotten the job done on both sides of the ball for HHS.
Plum is a 5-10, 165 pound deep threat wide receiver, as well as a shutdown corner, while Holdsclaw is a 6-2, 205 pound utility player on offense, and defensive end. Plum has tremendous speed and hands, and has racked up his share of touchdowns, including a 90-yarder already this season. Plum also has seven interceptions, just two shy of tying the HHS school record for INTs in a season.
Holdsclaw is the backbone of the offense this season, lining up as a wide receiver, quarterback, and running back. His speed, power, and strength reeks havoc on opposing defenses, already scoring with is arm and legs this season. He also has great return skills, as well as racks up the tackles each weekend from the defensive end position.
“Their play on the field sets an example,” Christenson said. “A positive example for the younger kids. Chet is a monster on defense, and from a safety spot, I don’t know if there is any better in the conference. Zach Plum on offense and defense is having a phenomenal season. He has worked hard to get here, and is having great success because of it. Thurman Holdsclaw, well he is Thurman. He is just a great athlete with great natural ability and great natural talent. But he is also in here every morning still lifting, and has earned everything he’s got. It is nice to see they are having successful season because they have earned it.”
Individually, the season has been great for these three. But the team has had a rollercoaster year, and there is just one thing on everybody’s mind right now, making the playoffs. And that is a goal that is still in reach, and almost cemented with a win over the Browning Indians tonight.
“That is our goal right now,” Plum Said “To make the playoffs. Browning has some good running backs I hear, so we have to stop the run game.
“I want to make the playoffs pretty bad,” Holdsclaw added “Last year we made it as juniors, and this year we have the opportunity, so why not do it again as a senior? We just need to contain who they have, contain their best players. And one of their goals is to just beat us this year."
The Ponies are almost guaranteed a spot in the Class A playoffs with a conference win tonight. And if they can at all help it, look for Plum, Holdsclaw and Shrauger to step up and carry the load. Tonight's hame kicks off at 7.