TERRE HAUTE —
My personal suggestion is leather helmets.
As frightening data on concussions filters its way from the National Football League on down to colleges, high schools and youth leagues, I can’t help but think back to the time when I was standing on the sidelines watching my teammates play.
Our helmets were not the shiny, glossy, high-tech instruments they are now, and there were probably concussions then — but there weren’t many.
Why? Because one of the first things we were taught, the first time we ever put those helmets on, was not to lead with your head. And while I’m not saying we were all geniuses at Lowell High School, we certainly knew we didn’t have adequate protection if we did.
So for me, it’s the height of naivete to think that equipment manufacturers were going to turn out the gear the kids have now and not know that the players — who like to hit things anyway, remember — were not going to see the potential weaponry involved.
I just hope some kind of solution can be found, because I would hate to see football diminished or, as some already suggest, eliminated.
Selfishly, I enjoy the fall evenings on the sidelines, and I appreciate watching young players mature. It’s easy to see the lessons the sport teaches them play out, and it was particularly easy this year.
While the Wabash Valley didn’t have a state champion — if someone suggests we had a public school champion, I’m not inclined to argue — we had a bunch of teams who prepared to be. Terre Haute North and Linton came closest, Casey and South Putnam were right there too, and North Vermillion had the looks of a threat as well (sidelined, ironically, by a concussion).
For me, that’s a pretty good season. Here are the Vigo County players who helped make it so.
Seniors of the Year — Phoenix Adams, Junior Berry, Taxi Brown, Luke Church, Logan Deady, Duane Deerwester, Tyler Dobbins, Jordan Dressler, Jacob Johnson, Ian Newton, D.J. Ramsook, Johnathan Rogers, Dickie Rollins and Jacob Stephens of South; Chris Barrett II, Austin Barron, Austin Bishop, Seth Boland, Ricky Brookins, Nate Carson, Lucas Comer, D.J. Jackson, Forrest Lowery, Austin Massey, Ronnie McConnell II, Jordan Moothery, Ryan Moshak, Ricky Scank, Wyatt Stoelting, Kai Stratten, Gerrit TenBrink, Austin Vermillion and Bryce Woodason of North; Tyler Bell, Sam Bowden, Brady Cole, Tyler Gustafson, Jimmy Maples, Sam McClain and Skyler Warnock of West Vigo.
Juniors of the Year — Ethan Barrett, Jacob Bean, Vahn Billberry, Sam Gehman, Michael Ghant II, Trey Grim, Ashaun Miller and Zach Potter of North; Isaac Boatman, Austin Cutliff, Ryan Hackett, Garrett Ray and Sam Switzer of West Vigo; Nick Church, Leroy Dickerson, Koty Hall, Tanner Hamblen, Timmy Herrin, Jordon Montgomery, Chase Morris, LaMarkis Stevenson, Sam Sullivan, Sammy Velasquez, Michael Watt, Aaron Wells and Nick Wiram of South.
Sophomores of the Year — Joshua Beasley, Luke Bigger, Bryce Edmondson, Daniel McClain, Nick Parker, Brandon Sherrill, Dakota Short, Zach Switzer and Hunter Voils of West Vigo; Lane Bonar, Justin Jenkins and Drake Latta of South; Logan Grim, Mikey Hettinger, Stefan Massey and Braxton Poore of North.
Freshmen of the Year — Lane Burke, Joe Creasey, Seth Frey and Tyler Kernstein of West Vigo.
Senior Good Guys — Carson Brown, Austin David and Carter Hall of South; Ian Cooper, Jaron Hamblen, Spencer Kunz and Kyle Thompson of North; Logan Klotz and Brady Likens of West Vigo.
Most Improved — Austin Bishop of North and Aaron Wells of South.
Not Enough Recognition — Luke Church, Logan Deady and Dickie Rollins of South and Lucas Comer, Trey Grim, Ryan Moshak, Zach Potter, Ricky Scank and Bryce Woodason of North.
Costliest Injuries — Hunter Voils cost West Vigo a lot of offense and even more field position when he was lost midway through the year. Austin Vermillion’s absence didn’t help North down the stretch either, and who knows what kind of momentum South might have picked up with Timmy Herrin available for all its games.
Player I wish had at least one more season — D.J. Jackson of North, also probably special teams player of the year.
She Made It — Alathia Bowden of West Vigo.
Hits of the year — With all the concussion news lately, I’m a little reluctant to keep presenting this award. But Kai Stratten of North had a goal-line collision against Castle that certainly deserves mention, and his teammate Wyatt Stoelting had a notable lick on a Southport ball carrier.
Neither led with his head, I should point out. Forearms and shoulder pads were plenty.
Andy Amey can be reached after 4 p.m. at 812-231-4277 or at 1-800-783-8742; by email at email@example.com; by mail at P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN, 47808; or by fax at 812-231-4321. Follow TribStarAndy on Twitter.