When Chuck Sorrell became South Vermillion High School’s head football coach in 2011, he used a lot of young players.
Those young players grew up some last season, but the Wildcats still finished 2-8 and lost in the first round of the Class 2A sectional.
This season, which starts for them Friday at Covington, those previously young players are now juniors and seniors and ready to experience the sweet taste of success.
Whether they will or won’t is anybody’s guess, but Sorrell likes their chances.
“All of my seniors have been starting for three years now,” he told the Tribune-Star. “Our skill-position players are faster and stronger than they’ve ever been, so we’re looking forward to being a lot more explosive on offense.”
Quarterbacking the offense will be 6-foot-1, 165-pound junior Jordan Branz, who started games as a freshman two years ago but chose to sit out the 2012 football season.
“Jordan is a very athletic kid, a three-sport athlete,” Sorrell pointed out. “If he gets on the edge, he has a chance to break it for a big gain.”
Last season’s starting quarterback, Adam Crouch (now a 6-0, 195-pound senior), has been shifted to tailback for the first time since he’s been at South Vermillion.
“He’s actually the heart and soul of our team,” Sorrell said of Crouch. “We wanted to get the ball in his hands more. As a tailback, he’ll get it more often.”
Also in the mix for carries, according to Sorrell, is 6-1, 170-pound junior Chase Wilson.
Four starting receivers are back from last season — 6-2, 230-pound junior Logan Waldrop at tight end and senior Tristan Spivey (5-8, 160) and juniors Del Dunegan (5-11, 175) and Daniel Shew (6-1, 175) as wideouts.
“We do a lot of stuff with them,” the Wildcats’ coach noted. “We try to get the ball in their hands in space a lot.”
Two starters have returned for the O-line — junior Adam Stultz (6-1, 300) at center and senior Kevin Bailey (6-0, 220) at guard — while the new starters will be sophomore Austin Eup (6-1, 220) at the other guard and seniors Eric Davis (6-2, 300) and Aeron Goodman (5-11, 200) at tackles.
“All of them are pretty strong,” Sorrell emphasized. “They’re going to be hard [for opposing teams] to push around.”
Overall, Sorrell genuinely likes the potential of his offensive unit in 2013.
“We have an Oregon/Chip Kelly type of offense,” he explained. “We are fast-paced. With our experienced guys being juniors and seniors now, they understand the importance of spacing and how to make big plays when they get the ball.”
Unsure of the identity of his placekicker as of this writing, Sorrell did say that Branz will be his punter.
Turning to defense, South Vermillion will have three returning starters up front in 6-2, 310-pound junior Matt Musall at nose tackle and 6-3, 225-pound senior Dallas Thomas and Eup at ends.
Lining up as linebackers will be even more returnees — 5-9, 210-pound junior Tanner Smith; 5-10, 220-pound junior Evan Piper; Bailey; and 5-11, 200-pound junior Brandon Knezevich — along with Waldrop, who will be making his first start on defense.
The Wildcats’ secondary is experienced too, with the starters consisting of Spivey and Dunegan at cornerbacks and Crouch at free safety. Sorrell also named sophomore Hunter Thornton (6-0, 195) as someone likely to see plenty of time filling in at safety and/or linebacker.
“We’ve made a real [defensive] focus on 10 guys running to the football and trying to get takeaways,” Sorrell insisted.
Looking at the Western Indiana Conference, the third-year coach admitted it will be tough for South Vermillion to win the title, especially with 2012 co-champion Sullivan returning so many players from last season.
But he didn’t rule it out either.
“I think Sullivan and Northview are considered the favorites,” Sorrell said. “As for us, I think we’re going to surprise some people if we stay healthy.”
South Vermillion schedule
Friday — At Covington, 7 p.m.
Aug. 30 — North Vermillion, 8 p.m.
Sept. 6 — At Owen Valley*, 7 p.m.
Sept. 14 — vs. Brown County* in Lucas Oil Stadium, 5 p.m.
Sept. 20 — At West Vigo*, 7 p.m.
Sept. 27 — At Rockville, 7 p.m.
Oct. 4 — Northview*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 11 — Sullivan*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 18 — At Edgewood*, 7 p.m.
* — Western Indiana Conference games