When Hanover High head coach Mike Ketterman took over the football program this season, he knew it was going to take more than a quick fix to turn around a team that went 1-9 in 2011.
To make the task even more difficult, he only had 25 players on his squad, and few of them had varsity experience. Couple that with the fact the Nighthawks were switching from a 3-4 defense to a 4-4 and you can see why the Nighthawks finished the season 0-10.
Despite the record, Ketterman's first year as a head coach was one of his favorites.
"You don't expect not to win a game," Ketterman said. "But the things that these kids developed are things like integrity, character and loyalty. These kids never missed practice all season long. In the 22 years that I have coached, they have been the most coachable kids that I have ever had. Being 0-10 and having that commitment was incredible."
The statistics are a glaring indication of the season Hanover had. The Nighthawks were outscored, 454-133. They gave up an average of 367.2 yards rushing per game and only gained an average of 249.3 total yards per game.
Ketterman, however, knew they would take their lumps and knew the coaching staff would have to redefine what a win was this season. They did so by highlighting and drawing attention to the things they did well, and making sure to use the areas of struggles as teachable moments.
"Our passing game exceeded my expectations," Ketterman said. "We would have liked to establish a better running game, but we got better as the season went on. Defensively, we did not meet our expectations. We struggled to tackle. We didn't really seem to grasp the fundamentals."
One thing is evident to Ketterman and the rest of the coaching staff. The culture is changing.
"I think a lot of the things we teach will help in life. We want to be respectful and respected. We have to gain respect from opponents. We need to change the overall mentality and the key is to be consistent."
Junior quarterback Brady Goodfellow finished the year with 1,313 yards, six touchdowns and 13 interceptions. On the ground, however, the Nighthawks failed to tally more than 1,000 yards on the season, but were led by junior Ian Brown (343 yards and four touchdowns)
The development of Goodfellow was one of the bright spots in Hanover's season.
"I think he matured his leadership the most this year," Ketterman said. "He took control of the offense and understanding what we wanted from him as far as our expectations of him with his leadership role. The decision making, all of those things played a factor"
One player the Nighthawks will lean on next season is 6-foot-5 wide receiver Dylan Krieger. Krieger did not join the team until the fourth week. He finished the season with a team-leading 519 yards in receptions and a team-high four touchdowns.
In spite of Hanover's record, Ketterman felt the team bought into the new system and that the future is bright.
"These guys have had four, five different offenses in one season in years past," he said. "I think they appreciated that we stuck with this year's offense.
The future begins Monday, Dec. 3, when the Nighthawks begin their offseason lifting, a time when Ketterman knows is vital that his team gets bigger, faster and stronger.
"We must commit to a summer program," he said. "We must be actively involved in 7-on-7's, and do things like team camps. Our junior class is a class we are really counting on. They have been playing with each other since they were 8 years old and I don't think they wanted to let each other down all year. They just kept fighting."
Hanover graduates five seniors, but will have 23 ninth-graders moving up and potentially have eight more incoming freshmen to add to the roster.
"We have a lot to look forward to and the kids deserve to reap the benefits of their hard work and that's why we need to get after it come December," Ketterman added.
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