By Beau Wicker Pharos-Tribune
---- — Logansport football coach Brad Urban is entering his second year at the helm, which means he knows his players better and his players know what he wants from them.
He’s hoping that leads to improvement this season in year two of the Urban project.
“I think in a lot of ways I’m more familiar with our team from a personnel standpoint,” Urban said. “We’ve made some changes on the offensive and defensive lines and I think that will help. We’re still thin there and do not have a lot of depth.
“We’re still trying to get more big kids interested in playing football. It’s a challenge right now. But we have a bigger offensive line than we had a year ago. They have more size so hopefully over the course of the year they won’t get wore down as much. We’ve got good size. Everybody is over 200 pounds except our center and most of them move pretty well.”
The Berries return quite a bit of experience in their backfield although they did lose 1,000-yard rusher Bo Bullard to graduation.
Junior Ryan Schrock (5-5, 145) will be back under center as the starting quarterback. Last year he passed for 404 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 424 yards and five TDs.
Senior Jacob Shelton (5-10, 180) saw some time at fullback a year ago and will be the starter this season. He rushed for 148 yards and a TD and also saw quite a bit of time at linebacker last year.
The Berries also have a pair of experienced halfbacks back in seniors Isaac Eastburn (5-5, 155) and Marcus Record (5-10, 170). Eastburn is the team’s leading returning rusher, as he rushed for 518 yards and three TDs and averaged 7.0 yards per carry a year ago. Record was the team’s leading receiver a year ago with 10 catches for 196 yards and added 166 yards on the ground while also seeing time on defense.
“Our backfield has some explosiveness with Shelton, Record and Eastburn,” Urban said.
Backups Jacob Brown (jr, 5-11, 170) and Austin Gaby (sr, 5-10, 170) also saw some varsity time a year ago. Backup fullback Jeff Blanton (jr, 5-9, 175) is a good short-yardage option, said Urban.
The Logan coach said the wide receiver spots are were up for grabs in the preseason.
“At wide receiver we have no experience at the varsity level. We have a lot of guys competing for it,” he said.
Urban’s offense typically will utilize two wideouts and no tight end. He said Matt Karnafel (jr, 5-10, 165) will be at tight end when one is employed.
Alex Emmerd (sr, 6-5, 265) is the only returning starter on the offensive line. He was a state qualifier in the discus in track and will play at left guard on the line.
At left tackle will be first-year varsity player Brian Perez, a senior. Josh Hotsinpiller, another senior, is back out for football after a one-year break and is the starting center. Caleb Sell, a junior is another starter that took a one-year hiatus from football. He’ll be at right guard.
“He’s big and tall and has the body to be a lineman at the next level, it’s a matter of how hard he wants to work at it,” Urban said.
Deon Coburn (jr, 6-0, 225) will start at right tackle.
“He has unlimited potential as an offensive lineman. We’ve got some juniors on our line so we’ve got them for two more years,” Urban said.
The Berries also hope to be an improved team on the defensive side of the ball although they did lose leading tackler Braxton Berkshire, who is now playing for Heidelberg College in Ohio.
“That’s been a focus of emphasis,” Urban said. “It starts up front on the defensive line where we’ve got Eric Deford (jr, 6-0, 285), a big guy in the middle. Jose Salinas (sr, 6-0, 220) was an offensive tackle last year and this year will be at defensive tackle. Our defensive ends are Tyler Prentice (jr, 5-10, 180) and Jeff Blanton.”
Bailey Craven (jr, 5-9, 170), Michael Leonard and Khalil Carter (sr, 6-2, 210) look to be the starting linebackers. Leonard, a senior is a move-in from Rochester. Pablo Morales, a first-year senior player, is also in the mix.
Urban said the secondary has been a bit banged up during training camp. Kevin Gonzalez (so, 5-5, 135) and Caleb McLochlin (sr, 5-11, 155) look to be the starting cornerbacks. Gaby and Brown are the safeties. Austin Muller (so, 5-9, 140) is recovering from a pulled hamstring but is also in the mix. As is Ed Hurst, a senior move-in from Chicago who started high school at Logansport. Urban said his transfer from Chicago was not yet completed when this story was being written but when it is completed he should give the team a boost.
Record looks to handle the punting duties and soccer player Orlando Casimiro will handle the kicking duties.
The Berries will get a good look at just where they’re at right off the bat tonight against Urban’s former team, the Twin Lakes Indians. Last season Twin Lakes came to Berry Stadium and left with a 33-9 win, and Twin Lakes looks to be strong again this season.
“They’ll be a solid team. They out-physicaled us and outplayed us that game,” Urban said. “I told the kids how I feel about that. That’s not a good way to get started. That set the tone.”
The Berries handily defeated Peru the next week, but that would turn out to be their final win of the season. They lost eight straight to close out the season 1-9 but Urban was quick to point out that the Berries were in most of those games and need to find a way to pull them out this season.
“We were able to bounce back the following week against Peru and followed that with a good game against Huntington. But we were up and down,” Urban said. “Some games we were tough and some games we didn’t show up. We have to be mentally tougher and a more consistent football team. “
Richmond ran the table in North Central Conference play a year ago and Kokomo is another team that was near the top of the standings.
“I think Richmond is the team to beat looking at what they have coming back being the defending champions. Kokomo is good, too, but I think Richmond is the team to beat. Huntington North is a solid team as well,” Urban said. “We think it’s very wide open. It’s a matter of who plays well and is consistent.
“We’re excited about getting started. Last season left a bitter taste record-wise.”
Looking into the future, the Berries have 25 freshmen coming into the program that enjoyed a successful run in middle school football.
“We’re trying to keep them together and would like them to play together on the freshman team,” Urban said. “We’d like to get them success. We had a few kids that didn’t come out. But we’ve got enough for a freshman team. We’ll see by the end of the year if some of them can possibly help out special teams or maybe some skill positions. If things go well a lot of them will play as sophomores. Things are on the upswing.”
Brief heds:Logan football Bod agate:COACH: Brad Urban (76-87 in 15 seasons, 1-9 at Logan). Bod agate:CONFERENCE: North Central Bod agate:SECTIONAL: Class 4A No. 20 Bod agate:SECTIONAL OPPONENTS: Columbia City, Fort Wayne South, Frankfort, Jay County, Marion, New Haven, Norwell Chapter heds:BERRIES' SCHEDULE Bod agate:All games start at 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Aug. 23 -- at Twin Lakes Aug. 30 -- Peru Sept. 6 -- at Huntington North, 7 p.m. Sept. 13 -- Anderson Sept. 20 -- at Marion, 7 p.m. Bod agate:Sept. 27 -- Muncie Central Oct. 4 -- at Kokomo, 7 p.m. Oct. 11 -- New Castle Oct. 18 -- at Richmond Chapter heds:5-YEAR TREND Bod agate:2012 1-9 2011 4-6 2010 6-5 2009 6-4 2008 5-5 Total 22-29 (.431)