Mahomet-Seymour football

The Mahomet-Seymour football team huddles before its final game of the season on Oct. 25, 2019.

MAHOMET — The playoffs are starting to ramp up, but for the Mahomet-Seymour Bulldogs, football season is over. Year one of the Jon Adkins’ era finished with the Bulldogs out of the playoff picture, but they did improve to 4-5 this season after winning just three games in 2018.

Here’s a look at what went right, what went wrong and what’s next for Adkins’ crew.

What went right

Year one with a new coaching staff is never super easy. The Bulldogs were able to grind out four victories, but they fell short of the playoffs. Jon Adkins promised an up-tempo, exciting offense, and he was able to get big-time performances from Clay Hubble and Braden Finch on the ground. Hubble and Finch combined to rush for 1,193 yards and nine touchdowns this fall. The duo averaged 132.5 rushing yards per game together. Sophomore tailback Mitchell Gallier started to showcase that he could be a valuable part of the rotation. Gallier finished with 143 rushing yards and one touchdown.

Clay Hubble finished the season with exactly 1,001 yards of total offense. Hubble was the top rusher with 653 total yards and four touchdowns. He added 22 catches for 348 yards and four touchdowns in the passing game. Hubble had a strong sophomore season, and built off that as a junior.

With Mount Zion’s Sage Davis finally graduating, there’s a chance that Hubble could be the best running back in the Apollo Conference next season.

Defensively, the Bulldogs really started to find their identity. In the last four games, M-S held their opponents to just 42 total points. That’s really impressive, and with multiple leaders coming back next season, they could absolutely form an intimidating defense yet again.

Linebacker Skyler Yancy had a breakout senior season. Yancy finished with a team-high 44 tackles with five tackles for a loss. Yancy also forced one fumble. Senior defensive end Costen Campion was one of the best defensive ends in the Apollo. Campion had four tackles for a loss and 26 tackles this season.

Carson Thomas showcased how dynamic of a defensive back he could be. Thomas had three interceptions and returned two of them for touchdowns.

What went wrong

First off, missing the playoffs for the second year in a row is something that people aren’t used to at Mahomet-Seymour. The last time the Bulldogs missed the playoffs in back-to-back years was in 2000 and 2001. The loss that really hurt M-S was a 13-6 home loss to an underwhelming Lincoln team. M-S closed the season with three straight wins, but it wasn’t good enough.

It’s also pretty clear that there was a significant gap between the Bulldogs and the top teams in the Apollo Conference. Mt. Zion destroyed M-S 43-8 on Homecoming. Effingham had no troubles handling the Bulldogs 42-7. It’ll be up to Adkins and the rest of the coaching staff to close that gap.

The M-S offense was supposed to do big things in 2019. The running game was solid, but it could never really click on an elite level. The Bulldogs were held under 21 points six times this year, and the turnovers really killed M-S.

The Bulldogs combined for 16 interceptions this year. That’s almost two per game. Playoff teams don’t have that many turnovers, and if M-S wants to get back to the promised land, those killer mistakes have to be eliminated.

What’s next

The Bulldogs’ freshmen team went 8-1 and the junior varsity squad went 6-3. There’s talent coming up. Plus, Finch and Clay Hubble were the best two playmakers on offense this season, and they will return hoping to build on the chemistry that was established this year. Top defensive playmakers like Skyler Yancy, Hayden Nelson, Colton Morris and Gage Granadino will also all return.

The Apollo Conference will remain competitive as ever. Effingham, Taylorville and Mt. Zion will be tough. Lincoln is much-improved, and Mattoon will hope to get back to their winning ways.