TERRE HAUTE —
I’m getting my warm clothes ready for a trip to Linton this week, and if a few thrills from the Miners, Casey or North Vermillion happen the next couple of weeks, I hope I get to see them.
But high school football is over in Vigo County for the season — as coach Chris Barrett of Terre Haute North said, prematurely — and I’m sadder to see it go than usual.
Walking the sidelines and doing midweek or postgame interviews enables me to meet quite a few of the guys whose names you are about to read, and haven’t been more impressed than I was this fall. What outstanding groups of young men. What a tough, tough bunch of people.
Many know that one of my favorite athletic adjectives appeared consecutively in the previous sentence.
One of my favorite interviews was with West Vigo lineman Jacob Riley. He’s been a man instead of a boy for a couple of years now — this is praise, but it’s bittersweet — and he was candid enough to admit what every lineman or former lineman knows: football isn’t always fun.
He wasn’t about to give it up either, of course.
When I talked to Jacob, his team had been beaten decisively (on the field) in each of its first two games, but he wasn’t about to give up on the Vikings either.
They wound up sharing the Western Indiana Conference championship, you may have noticed.
Terre Haute South’s Braves, unfortunately — and there’s the word that sums up their season — did not get the results that coming ever closer to the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference powerhouses should have delivered. The Braves had an offense dripping with potential in a year when every MIC team but one had impenetrable defense. If a South player was injured, it was certain he’d be playing a position that was vital, or where someone else had already been injured, or both.
And maybe the best example of the Braves’ bad timing or bad luck was to have this year’s team in the same season when North’s Patriots were at the top of their game. I got to know those guys better than anybody, although part of the reason is that so many of them were around for four full seasons. North was still getting better every week, which is why the unfortunate way its season ended is sticking in my craw a little bit — just like it must be for the Patriots.
(I just hope North played long enough for all-state voters to see Calvin Blank, because there can’t have been anyone playing defensive end better than he did the last few weeks.)
So if it wasn’t my funniest or most ribald year on the sidelines — there will probably never be another Garry Handlin — it was certainly one of my best. Here are the reasons why:
• Seniors of the year — Danny Banks, Dylan Banks, Dillon Bell, Bobby Bennett, Danny Etling, Zac Harper, Adam Kahn, Nic Keller, Howie Lawson, Jeremy Patterson, Pedro Piloni, Brandon Russell-Cherry, Adam Scott, Tyler Seibert, Logan Steward, Trevor Thomas, Jonathan Weakley, Derik Whalen and Kane Wilford of South; Vasco Billberry, Calvin Blank, Josh Bovenschen, Lee Davis, Charles Dillahunt, A.J. Grady, Alan Grayless, Austin Lewis, Lucas May, Colton Pittman, Brother Scank, Cole Seward and Chris Spencer of North; and Ethan Boatman, Danny Creasey, Jacob Creasey, Daniel Mackey, Alex May, Patrick McVey, Tyler Murlin, Chris Neidlinger, Nate Owens, Jacob Riley and Andy Velazquez of West Vigo
• Senior good guys — Evan Alexander, Xavier Craft, Dan Miller and Jon Sagarsee of North.
• Juniors of the year — Chris Barrett II, Austin Bishop, Ricky Brookins, Nate Carson, Lucas Comer, Forrest Lowery, Austin Massey, Ronnie McConnell, Ryan Moshak, Ricky Scank, Jovanie Spencer, Wyatt Stoelting, Kai Stratten, Gerrit TenBrink, Austin Vermillion and Bryce Woodason of North; Derrick Bennett, Sam Bowden, Tyler Gustafson, Jimmy Maples, Sam McClain and Skyler Warnock of West Vigo; and Junior Berry, Taxi Brown, Luke Church, Logan Deady, Duane Deerwester, Tyler Dobbins, Jacob Johnson, Ian Newton and Dickie Rollins of South
• Sophomores of the year — Isaac Boatman, Ryan Hackett and Tyler Hayes of West Vigo; Trey Grim and Zach Potter of North; and Timmy Herrin, LaMarkis Stevenson and Michael Watt of South
• Freshmen of the year — Joshua Beasley, Dakota Short and Hunter Voils of West Vigo
• Most improved players — Alan Grayless and Chris Spencer of North, Tyler Gustafson of West Vigo and Jonathan Weakley of South are the ones who spring to mind first, but this could be a very extensive list. Grayless, incidentally, also provided me with the best — and probably most honest — excuse for losing a drag race.
• They shouldn’t have been injured — Ethan Boatman, Tyler Hayes and Connar Houghton of West Vigo and Zac Harper and Logan Steward of South didn’t get to show their stuff very long — or at all.
• They didn’t realize they were injured — Danny Etling of South and Brother Scank of North are the best examples of guys who played through aches and pains that would have hospitalized a lot of players.
Like I said: tough, tough people.
Andy Amey can be reached after 4 p.m. by phone at (812) 231-4277 or 1-800-783-8742; by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; by mail at P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN, 47808; or by fax at (812) 231-4321. Follow TribStarAndy on Twitter.