By Kenny Hetzler For the Pharos Tribune
---- — FLORA — Carroll coach Steve Keown knows that football games are won in the battle of the trenches, and he is looking forward to this year’s battle.
“We are big,” said Keown of his offensive and defensive linemen. “Our defensive line will weigh 250, 230 at the ends and 302 and 250 at the tackles. Also, 230 to 190 at the linebacker positions. If they are physical, we will be tough to handle, Our line and running game is the key.”
Linemen returning are senior Gunnar Meyer (tackle), juniors Jarin Bush (guard, defensive end) and Zac Prater (defensive end). New to the line up will be sophomore Parker Hoffman (tackle).
Defensively, 2012 Indiana Football Coaches Association’s Indiana Junior All-State junior safety Brandon Dillon returns (7 interceptions for 157 yards, 32 tackles). Also returning are senior linebacker Jaden Reneau (45 tackles), juniors linebacker Chandler Eurit (37 tackles), Bush (47 tackles and 2 sacks) and Prater (27 tackles and 2 sacks).
Offensively, junior Jared Miller returns at quarterback (34 completions on 74 attempts for 627 yards, 6 touchdowns). Also returning at running back Reneau (142 attempts for 762 yards, 10 touchdowns) and wide receiver Dillon (40 receptions for 847 yards, 9 touchdowns).
Carroll (6-5) will be looking for a Hoosier Heartland Conference title and a Class A, Sectional 42 title. Carroll has not won a Hoosier Heartland Conference title since 2000, and the Cougars finished in third place with a 2-2 record behind Sheridan (4-0) and Tri-Central (3-1) a year ago. Tri-Central also has former Clinton Central coach George Gilbert, who is in his fifth year at the school. As for the sectional, former HHC member Lafayette Central Catholic has also left Class A for Class 2A, because of the successful factor. Pioneer will be favored. Also the sectional will have newcomer South Newton, who won Class A, Sectional 33 in 2011.
“Our goal is to win conference and the sectional,” Keown added. “Conference is going to be a battle with Tri-Central having everyone back, and Sheridan’s coach Bud Wright is thinking he will have a good team this year. We have to play both of them on the road. As for the sectional, it’s going to be a battle. Pioneer is up there, and Seeger and South Newton are coming into the sectional.”
Carroll opens at home tonight against Tri-County.
The Peru Tigers made progress in the second year of head coach Bob Prescott with a 3-7, 2-5 MIC record last year after going 0-10 in 2011. Now the Tigers will like to see more of wins this season, but they are taking it one step at a time.
“We are making progress [this year],” Prescott said. “Our guys are getting better every time we step on the field. We want to [always] make sure that we are getting better.”
In order to get better, Prescott wants to work on the Tigers first, before concentrating on the upcoming opponent.
“We will focus on us,” Prescott added. “Our goal is to see improvement. We can’t control who we play.”
Prescott will be looking to the services of juniors quarterback Nolan Brimbury (4-17-2 for 71 yards), running back Michael Richardson (45-225, 2 TDs) and senior linebacker (88 solo tackles, 20 assisted, 3 tackles for loss). Other returning players are seniors Eddie Childers (linebacker), Eli Brubaker (tight end), Nick Cress (center) and Kegan Kern (running back) and junior Tristan Bragg (tackle).
Other players looking to see more action are seniors Steven McBride (fullback), Andrew Maynard (linebacker) and Mitch Johnson (cornerback), junior Gordo Maldonado (wide receiver), sophomores Peyton Sturgill (free safety) and Mitchell Townsend (guard).
Prescott will also like to become a top team in the MIC, but that will come with time.
“The conference has winning teams every year, and we have to climb our way up to the top,” Prescott said.
As for the sectional, Peru enters a new era with the six class system. The Tigers still remain in Class 3A, but with only one common opponent in Maconaquah in Sectional 26. Others joining the sectional are Culver Military Academy, Fairfield, Jimtown, Rochester, Tippecanoe Valley and Twin Lakes.
Peru scrimmaged Twin Lakes last Friday. The Tigers open the season hosting Wabash this Friday.