Seymour senior Josh Rennekamp decided to come out for football this fall because a lot of his friends are on the team.
He is a three-sport athlete, also playing basketball and running track, and a lot of his teammates in those sports play football.
“A lot of my friends wanted me to come out, and I’ve always loved football,” he said. “I’ve always thought about it. A lot of it just comes down to being with friends.”
Rennekamp made a huge play for the Owls in Friday’s 28-24 win over Brownstown Central in the 16th annual Jackson Bowl at Blevins Memorial Stadium.
He caught a 33-yard pass from quarterback Bret Perry that gave the Owls a first-and-goal at the Braves’ 5-yard line. Perry scored on the next play with 1:05 remaining for the winning TD.
Rennekamp, who came into the game with 10 catches on the season, said he changed the play on his big catch.
“We were running a slant, and I looked over at Bret and we changed the call,” he explained. “I pointed at my feet, which signaled to him that I was going to go for a long ball there. He saw me and watched me go down the field, saw me get open and threw me a perfect ball there.”
Seymour picked up its first win in three years over Brownstown Central in the Jackson Bowl.
“It feels good, especially since this is my first year in football for high school,” Rennekamp said. “It’s good to be 1-0 against Brownstown.”
This was Seymour’s third win with less than 3 minutes remaining in the game this fall. Rennekamp caught a 24-yard pass from Perry with 2:40 remaining that lifted the Owls to a 31-28 win over Jeffersonville, and Perry completed a 30-yard pass to Kyle Hileman with .01 on the clock in the Owls’ 22-15 win over Floyd Central. Rennekamp caught an extra-point pass from Perry for the final points against Floyd.
“The key to winning is, as coach says, if we ever get backed into a corner, we always come out fighting, especially in the second half of all these games,” Rennekamp said. “We might not have had a good first half, but we come out guns-a-blazing in the second half.”
The Owls have won three straight since the 1-2 start.
Rennekamp, who had three catches for 43 yards on the night, said in order to keep winning, “We need to keep believing in ourselves and play like we do in the second half all the time. If we do that, we can get a lot more big wins.”
Rennekamp has 13 catches for the season, and two other Owls have 15 or more receptions this fall.
“It feels good having multiple threats because defenses always have to change who they are covering, and that leaves one of us open,” No. 87 said.
Another player who had a big hand in the win Friday was sophomore running back Nick Wheeler.
The Braves held a 10-7 lead at the half before the Owls received the second half kickoff and marched down the field with Wheeler topping off that drive with a 23-yard run for his second touchdown of the season.
He also scored on a 4-yard run early in the fourth quarter and had 49 yards on 10 carries for the game.
Wheeler said on his first score, “I cut in, but I wouldn’t have done any of that without my team. It’s a team game. I wouldn’t have any of this without my linemen.”
Wheeler was coming off a 108-yard rushing performance at Bedford a week earlier, and before that, he gained 74 yards against Floyd Central after carrying the ball only sparingly in the Owls’ first three games of the season.
“I read the gaps,” he said. “It just depends on the blocks, and I just have to keep fighting forward.”
Wheeler said it is exciting to win games late in the fourth quarter.
“We learn how to fight and keep going no matter what,” he said. “Even if something bad happens in the first half, we always keep fighting. We never give up. I’m happy about tonight. I’m just glad our team is winning and the seniors get to win these games. We just need to keep working hard and stay disciplined. We have good coaches.”
Nick has an older brother, Cam, who is also a running back and scored a touchdown in the win at Bedford.
“It’s fun having a brother on the team,” Nick said. “I like the team chemistry. It just amazes me on how everybody has a part. He’s better than me at certain things, and you learn from it. That’s what I like about it.”
While the Owls were celebrating Friday night, they received word that Floyd Central defeated Columbus East 14-12. Seymour, Bedford North Lawrence and Columbus Eat are all 3-1 in the Hoosier Hills Conference, and Floyd Central is 2-1.
The Owls will host Jennings County for homecoming Friday night and will travel to New Albany Oct. 7 for their final HHC game, and Seymour will have at least a share of the title by winning those two games. In other key HHC games coming up, Floyd Central plays at Bedford Friday night, and Columbus East goes to Bedford on Oct. 14.