The Pennington brothers like the movies. They have different tastes in highlight films, and neither mentioned the horror genre or comedy.
Senior linebacker Josh studies films of hot-shot killer linebackers making their slickest moves. Freshman receiver Jack focuses on the way experienced football players grab passes.
Two of the Owl regulars are from the same family but do not represent the same positions on the football field. Given that Jack plays offense and Josh plays defense, when Seymour practices, they hardly ever mingle inside Bulleit Stadium.
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“I do get to see him score touchdowns,” said big brother Josh.
As 3-5 Seymour prepares for its final regular-season game Friday night at Floyd Central and then state play, the Penningtons’ one-year overlap on varsity is nearing its end.
Josh will graduate and Jack will stick around, lucky they shared a senior-freshman connection when they had no idea that would happen. Preseason, Jack was not sure he would play varsity ball.
“It has been fun,” Josh said.
Josh said he started playing football when in the sixth grade, but Jack got a jump on him, starting the sport in fourth grade.
Coach Tyson Moore paid Josh the kind of compliment defensive guys, who essentially have their own fraternity within the ranks, like to hear.
“He is a linebacker through and through,” Moore said. “He’s going to be the leader on the defense.”
Pennington, 17, stands 5-foot-10 and weighs 200 pounds. It took time for him to find his fit in the lineup. As a freshman, he was a safety. As a sophomore, he started the year as a running back and then became a linebacker.
There are some very famous linebackers, linchpins of their defenses, in National Football League history, from the Bears’ Bill George and Dick Butkus to the Giants’ Sam Huff and Lawrence Taylor. However, when Pennington finds highlights, he doesn’t pay attention to who is delivering the hits, just how.
“I’ve watched plenty of highlights, but I don’t pay attention to names,” Josh said. “I’m just watching the position in general. I watch what my position should be doing.”
Moore counts on Josh to stick his nose into the other team’s business, to sniff out where the ball is going. This is exactly what Josh likes about his assignment.
“I see the linebacker as the leader of the defense,” he said.
Over one three-week period, the defense permitted no more than a single touchdown in a game. The last few weeks have been rougher with big scores racked up on the Owls.
Last week’s 56-0 loss to powerhouse Columbus East stung, but Moore tells his guys they only have 24 hours to dwell on victory or defeat because the next game comes quickly.
“It’s hard, but Columbus East is a great program,” Josh said.
Jack got the chance to play more than he expected this season because of early season injuries to other receivers. He has 15 catches for 220 yards and seems connected with quarterback Cody Ruble.
He put in time and sweat over the summer with his movie-watching focusing on Seymour players and college receivers.
“Mainly working on their footwork and what they do with their hands,” Jack said.
He said he and Ruble have developed good communication and an instinct for when he should turn and see the ball arriving.
“We saw him in the offseason as a kid who could be something special,” said Moore, who has also deployed the younger Pennington as a kickoff return man, too. “We’re excited about him.”
Moore wants the team to be excited against 6-2 Floyd Central and then for sectional play.
“We learned we got our butts kicked Friday night,” Moore said of the most recent game. “We don’t want it to carry over into the last game of the regular season and the playoffs. We’re excited about our game plan. The other night was frustrating. We didn’t give ourselves a chance to be successful (turnovers). I wouldn’t overlook us.”
Josh Pennington, who hopes to play college football at a small college, said he wants the closing weeks of his high school career to be a good experience with his “brothers,” as in teammates.
“Football is definitely one of the sports I feel closer to the guys,” he said.
As for his actual brother, Jack said this season could well stand out years in the future for the time shared with Josh.
“I’ll probably (always) remember,” Jack said.