Holmes Community College Head Coach Jeff Koonz was recently named the MACJC Coach of the Year following the Bulldogs' success on the field this season.
Koonz, who is in his sixth season as head coach, led the Bulldogs to a 6-3 regular season record and their first trip to a NJCAA Bowl since the 1988 season. Koonz is quick to say this award should be renamed the "MACJC Coaching Staff of the Year Award".
"Anytime there's a coach of the year award the head coach's name is on it, but obviously it's talking about the entire coaching staff," Koonz said. "I think the fact it's voted on by your peers makes it more of an honor. I think the coaches in the league know how far we've come the last few years and the quality of play that we've put out there. We had a talented team this year. All three phases of the game led to us winning that award.
"This is definetely a shared award with all of our coaches and not just me as the head coach," he said. "Obviously they should rename it the Coaching Staff of the Year Award not Coach of the Year."
The Bulldogs, who have sat near the top in rushing the last few seasons, continued the trend this season finishing the regular season ranked at No. 2 in rushing yards per game with 316.4. Holmes had 2848 yards on 476 attempts. The Bulldogs were ranked fourth in rushing touchdowns with 34. To go with the rushing prowess, Holmes averaged 164.3 yards per game in the passing game ranking the Bulldogs 11th in total offense at 480.8 yards per game. Holmes led the country in yards per catch with a 21.4 yard average. Holmes scored 38.1 points per game.
"Coach (Tim) Stowers did a tremendous job again," Koonz said of Holmes' offensive coordinator Tim Stowers. "He was up near the top again on numerous statistical areas on the offensive side of the ball.
"It's really not a balanced offense," Koonz said. "It's kind of take what they give you. We always want to be able to run the ball. The last three years we've led the state in rushing. That's where it all starts."
Holmes was led offensively by sophomore quarterback Dejerric Bryant, who was named MACJC Honorable Mention All-State. Bryant was 69-of-137 for 1479 with 14 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also ran the ball 77 times for 259 yards and six touchdowns. Bryant ran the offense the past two seasons.
"To be able to throw the play action kind of feeds off of them trying to stop the run and it really opens up the passing game," Koonz said. Bryant connected with sophomore receiver D.J. Montgomery, who was named First Team All-State, on numerous big plays and helped Montgomery lead the country in yards per catch at 27.1 yards per catch. "D.J. was kind of our go-to guy. The offense gave us a chance to win every ball game this year, and that's what we plan to continue to recruit to. This is the first year we actually recruited to this system and it's paying dividends. We would expect that our quality of recruits with the success that we've had should increase in the near future."
Other offensive players recognized by the MACJC included: sophomore lineman Tyler Barnes, sophomore lineman Austin Killion, freshman lineman Jarius Gooch,freshman lineman Rodney Shaw and sophomore running backs Matt Fuller and Antavius Moody. Barnes and Killion were named Second Team All-State while Gooch, Shaw, Moody and Fuller were Honorable Mention All-State.
Koonz also credited Defensive Coordinator Chris Shelling for the team's success this season. "Coach Shelling, our first-year defensive coordinator, did an oustanding job getting our kids to play hard and play fast. We were also able to get a lot of takeaways.
"You take on the personality of your coordinator," Koonz said. "Coach Shelling is very aggressive by nature. He likes to bring folks and force their hand. That's a smart thing to do in junior college. The more pressure you put on a team pays dividends."
The Bulldogs were led defensively by sophomore linebacker Jamar Smith and freshman defensive lineman Vada King. "Vada King and Jamar Smith were the two that stood out," he said. "With Jamar making First Team All-State and All-Region shows you the indication of his success this season. We were really good at tackling and had 11 guys running to the ball. That was the key to our success in that area."
Smith led the Bulldogs with 82 tackles. He had 11.5 tackles for loss, one sack and two fumble recoveries. Vada King, MACJC Second Team All-State, had 44 tackles including 14.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. To go along with Smith and King, the Bulldogs had four other players recognized by the MACJC --- sophomore defensive back Q'Mond Woods, freshman defensive lineman Tyshon Spencer, sophomore defensive back Sean Harper and sophomore defensive back Dante Wigley. Woods was named Second Team All-State while Spencer, Harper and Wigley were named Honorable Mention.
Koonz said the Bulldog special teams stood out this season as well. "Special teams were influential in some of the outcomes this year," he said. Sophomore punter Zack Schemmel and freshman return specialist Sanchez Berry were named Second Team All-State. Schemmel had a 36.9 yards per punt average while Berry had 469 return yards and a 17.4 return average.
"This is a great honor for our program and a great honor for our school," Koonz said. "I'm very proud. This is our second MACJC Coach of the Year Award. We won it in 2012, and I think people are taking notice of the quality program we are running here at Holmes."