Last weeks Gladwin game brought to mind another timeless sports cliché, didn’t it? Records are made to be broken, but some records last for a long time. Sixty years to be exact. When Logan Kokotovich scored in the fourth quarter of Gladwin’s 31-7 win over Standish-Sterling last Friday night one of Gladwin’s oldest records fell. Kokotovich’s third touchdown of the night and his 22nd of the season surpassed the record previously held by Doug Redman set in 1961.
It’s also cliché to say that it couldn’t have happened to a better guy, and in this case that is definitely true. Kokotovich, a junior, is already a captain and the emotional leader for the Flying G’s. “He is quiet, but everybody knows that Koko is our guy,” said Coach Marc Jarstfer. “He is the heartbeat of our defense and what he means to our offense can’t be overstated.” Jarstfer described a player who is willing to do whatever it takes to win.
“He came up as a freshman two years ago and put some of his personal success aside. He filled whatever role we needed and took some lumps along the way,” continued Jarstfer. “We didn’t score much and he didn’t score much, but I truly think it helped him become the leader for his group and the team.” When one of your best players is willing to put aside personal success it makes it easier for others to do the same.
I had the opportunity to talk to several of his teammates and they echo those thoughts. Senior offensive lineman Andrew Gary and Hunter Huguelet have enjoyed the season and take pride in their role in helping Kokotovich set the record. “It was a crazy accomplishment and emotional for everybody,” said Gary. “That record has been there for a long time and we put a lot of work into
getting him there. It was crazy to watch him cross the goal line for the last one.”
“It is really cool to leave something behind in our senior year,” said Huguelet. His record was an awesome accomplishment.” I spend a lot of time on the sidelines taking photos during the season and something that has stood out this year is how many times my photos have almost know one else other than the Gladwin ball carrier in them. The line has done a great job creating holes most of the season.
This season has been one of the most successful in Gladwin history. They went from 1-8 in Jarstfer’s first year to 9-0 at this point. All three players attribute a least part of the success to the offseason training program instituted by the coaching staff. “We have had about 40 guys coming to the weight room all summer,” said Kokotovich.
“The coaches get us motivated, get us out of bed in the morning when we don’t want to, its just awesome the bond we have.”
Huguelet also mentioned the work that they have done in the weight room. “When the coaches first got here I wasn’t hitting the weight room like I should. They encouraged me and the others to get in there and we started to see progress.” Jarstfer mentioned how Kokotovich leading by example played a big role it getting the others to off-season training sessions. Gary said, “The team is like a family, which makes everyone work hard for each other.”
Jarstfer talked about how Kokotovich experienced some things he didn’t like that first year. “He made sure that going forward he was going to push himself and encourage other guys to get in the weight room and push each other. Being willing to sacrifice for the varsity team while the junior varsity team was going undefeated is paying dividends now.”
Other coaches have also taken notice. “League coaches can’t say enough good things about him,” added Jarstfer. “After the Clare game I had three separate coaches talk about him. He is a rare special player in the sense that he has been so selfless throughout his entire high school career. It is cool to see him get some payoff and records that weren’t really important early on because he would never want to do anything that would come at the expense of team success.”
The record-breaking touchdown came out of a short yardage/goal line packaged that was installed a few weeks ago. Gladwin brings in two extra offensive linemen and takes out a couple of skill players. “We have run it five times and he has scored on four of them. It’s basically a bunch of strong dudes going forward which is a good complement to Kokos violent running style.”
Redman who died in 2013 at the age of 69 was part of the 1960 Northeastern Michigan Class B Conference champions and a member of the 1961 Detroit Free Press Class B All State Team. He holds multiple records several of which will probably stand for at least a few more years. Gladwin has so many outstanding athletes and weapons they don’t need to rely on one person.
The style of football is also different today. Teams rarely passed in the 1950’s and 1960’s and they generally try to spread the ball around today. This keeps opposing defenses off balance, but makes it difficult for one athlete to build up huge career stats. With guys like Nick Wheeler, Kaden McDonald, Lucas Mead, Earl Esiline and Jhace Massey the Flying G’s can attack from many different positions.
With the regular season behind them Kokotovich, Gary and Huguelet are looking forward, but not to far. “We try to keep our frame of reference close and not look past anybody,” said Gary. “Clare is a good team.” The Flying G’s are preparing for Clare their first round opponent in the playoffs this Friday. “We want to come out strong and put up a bunch of points and stop them on defense,” added Huguelet.
Kokotovich summed up their preparation for the game. “Week by week we just keep doing what we have done. We will stay focused, keep up with the film, and not slack off. Our eyes are on the prize.” After talking to Kokotovich and those around him I’m sure that prize is more than an individual record. He is too selfless to think like that. The prize is surely a long run in the playoffs.