Local teams ready to take the field, get season started


Everyone’s ready for the real deal.

With the two-a-days, camps and scrimmages in rear-view mirrors, football season has returned.

Tonight, the Friday night lights will shine once again.

All three schools with programs — Seymour, Brownstown Central and Trinity Lutheran — have very different storylines heading into Week 1.

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Owls ready to soar

Seymour comes into the season with a lot of questions, but one stands above the rest: Can the Owls build on the successes of 2016 with a coaching change?

After starting the season 0-3 last year, the Owls won eight straight games to return to the sectional championship game. They also finished as runners-up in the Hoosier Hills Conference — an unthinkable feat five years ago.

Finishing 8-4, the Owls mustered their first winning season since 2005.

On April 11, then-coach Josh Shattuck resigned at the Owls’ head to take a job at Elkhart Central.

Administration took little time to replace Shattuck, hiring Mike Kelly on May 9.

Kelly, who had coached at Fishers High School since 2008 in multiple roles, has had little time to implement his system.

With a pedigree for success, Kelly jumped head first into the job.

He comes off as a by-the-book guy who preaches fundamentals and perfecting the little details.

In Week 1, the Owls face Evansville Harrison.

Kelly said they’re taking it one snap at a time, not focusing on any team but the one they face next.

The Owls have moved to a pro-style offense, which was completely new to senior quarterback Alan Perry entering the season. They have four new offensive linemen and three new defensive linemen.

I was told Perry hadn’t taken a snap under the center before this summer, but I think that’s mostly a nonstory.

Perry’s an intelligent guy and also is a leader to teammates in three sports, who I’m sure has studied the playbook from front to back and spent extra hours learning the offense.

Kelly said under his offense, teams will need to focus on much more than Perry and that they will use two running backs — Nathan O’Mara and Justice Perry.

The Owls, who averaged 32 points in 2016, will need more help from their defense this season.

Taking out the 43-0 drubbing against Jennings County in last year’s sectional semis, the Owls gave up 33 points on average over 11 games — including six games in which they gave up more than 30 and three where their opponents had more than 45 points.

They’ve moved away from a man-to-man-type defense and work in more of an umbrella.

Kelly said there are several lines of defense and that they want to make sound tackles and not give up big plays.

Harrison — coming off a 7-5 season — also has a first-year coach in Lane Oxley, who served as Floyd Central’s defensive coordinator and was a defensive line and special teams coach from 1998 to 2002 and again from 2013 to 2016.

Oxley knows a lot of the Owls’ personnel, especially Perry, who carved up Floyd for 283 passing yards and four touchdowns (three rushing) in a 36-35 win last year.

Kelly said Harrison is a run-heavy team that has a very athletic quarterback coming to Bulleit Stadium.

The last time these two teams met up? Seymour won 65-68 in a sectional contest in 2012 when both teams were in Class 4A.

The Owls haven’t won their opening game since 2001 and will use that for motivation against Harrison.

Braves not out yet

One thing I’ve learned since taking on this job is to never doubt a Reed May-coached team.

Brownstown Central’s boys will come to the stadium prepared.

Brownstown lost 14 seniors — who contributed mightily to last year’s semistate berth and 12-2 record — so a lot of new names will be read over the loudspeakers.

Weekly school record-breaker Gavin Bane is gone, but the Braves look to hold their Mid-Southern Conference title.

At last week’s scrimmage at Jennings County, the Braves dominated on both sides of the back.

The wing-T offense looked crisp under quarterback Gus Hogan, who is taking snaps for the first time this fall. Some are saying this year’s team will be faster overall compared to 2016.

The biggest question is how the new starters react to the lights, in front of a full crowd, with a newly built stadium.

All six slot receivers are new starters for Brownstown. On the flip side, every member of the line got varsity playing time in 2016.

With Scottsburg re-forming a team, the MSC schedule looks much different this year.

Corydon Central’s now Game 1 — instead of nine — which puts a little extra pressure in the MSC race to perform.

May said he likes the new schedule, and the game will give the Braves a better sense of where they will fit in the MSC. Plus, in Week 9 against Scottsburg, the Braves won’t need to worry about seeing the Warriors again in the sectional.

Last season, Brownstown largely dominated Corydon in a 59-29 win.

Aaron Humphrey is in his first year as head coach of the Panthers, who went 3-7 in 2016, replacing Andrew Smith. Humphrey was most recently an assistant at Boonville but was an assistant before at Corydon under Darin Ward.

May said he expects Humphrey to pound the ball and for the kids to be excited for Game 1 under their new coach.

He said Corydon has a gargantuan line with multiple players weighing near or above 300 pounds.

In Game 1, May is looking for the strengths and weaknesses in the team.

May’s philosophy is to build toward the tournament, so this is Step 1 toward the final steps.

If John Harrell’s prediction of a 52-21 win for BC is correct, the fresh faces will leave Blevins Memorial Stadium with a win.

Cougars roar again

To be honest, I don’t know what to expect from Trinity Lutheran in Week 1.

What I do know is that they’re returning some solid players who helped the Indianapolis Crimson Knights make it to the homeschool national championships last season.

Under coach Mike Wilson, they’re building toward the future.

That future started this summer and takes a big step tonight.

They have 16 players on the team that attend the school, of 23 athletes total, while the remainder of the roster are homeschooled students.

I applaud the Cougars for putting together a schedule that features IHSAA-sanctioned schools. They’re taking small steps toward returning to the IHSAA tournament, which could lead to a return to the postseason come next reclassification.

Seniors Nathan Thomack, Bryce Lister, Jacob Rowe and Nathan Carter all will need to show supreme leadership with this young team.

More importantly, the coaching staff at Trinity will need to get excitement built.

Tonight, Trinity will play its first game under their new lights, which were purchased the year they disbanded the program two years ago.

While wins and losses matter, it’s going to be the bigger picture successes that will make the biggest difference for this team.

With Indianapolis Tindley in town, we can formally welcome Trinity Lutheran football back tonight.

A win would be the icing on the cake for the Cougars.

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