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Messwood's Carson, Ramsey earn All-Suburban nods

Seniors helped bring program back from extinction

Dec. 3, 2013

The successful three-year plan instigated by Shorewood/Messmer football coach Drake Zortman was made possible by many things, including Zortman's organizational and motivational skills.

The coach also knew that when he got started he had some talented sophomores who could possibly do great things by the time they got to be seniors.

He was correct in that regard, as the Greyhounds finished off this three-year run in the Midwest Classic Conference with a long overdue league title and a third straight WIAA state playoff berth.

Sophomores turned seniors such as quarterback/defensive back Taylor Dennis, tight end/defensive end Jonathan Carson and defensive end Tywan Ramsey provided the impetus to an impressive 7-3 campaign that serves as a launching pad for the Messwood program to head back to the larger and stronger Woodland Conference next year (Shorewood's home league for all other sports).

For their efforts, the seniors get to leave knowing that they've done their job well as Carson earned his second straight NOW All-Suburban football team berth at tight end, while Ramsey earned a slot at defensive end.

Off-season builds chemistry

"It meant a lot to accomplish all the things we did," said Carson, a Central Michigan recruit. "...We got together a lot in the off-season, worked together as much as possible to get ready for this fall. We wanted to make sure we would have the chemistry we would need."

Though there were a fair number of seniors on the team this year, the one place there was severe youth was on the offensive line, which was made up of Carson and then mostly sophomores.

"I worked hard with them, tried to help them build up confidence," Carson said.

Still, Zortman estimated that the Greyhounds ran behind the 6-3, 235-pound Carson 80-85 percent of the time and the result was an offense that averaged 29 points a game on the season.

"I liked having that responsibility," Carson said, "being a leader on the field. It really helped me grow as a person. It was expected of me and I wanted to help others get there, too."

Carson said it didn't bother him that not as many balls came his way this season in the passing game as last year. He knew how the team was built this year. He was still respected enough to earn league Offensive Player of the Year honors as well as first-team WFCA All-State.

"Clearly we had the best offensive and defensive players in the league," Zortman said.

Signature play

Carson got help on the defensive end, too, as the tall and strong Ramsey (6-4, 271-pound) earned Midwest Classic defensive player of the year honors. He could not be blocked one-on-one all season and he had the team's signature play for the fall, a strip and fumble recovery returned for a touchdown in the league title-clinching win over Lake Country Lutheran.

"He was everything to us defensively," Zortman said. "It didn't take long for everyone to realize how valuable he was to us."

That victory was the culmination, the arrow-point of Zortman's three-year plan.

"I'll never forget that game as long as I live," Carson said. "...I feel good about the program now. I think it's headed in the right direction."

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