Panthers face rebuilding task after winning season; Eagles, Lancers seek to improve

The good news for Jennings County is that it is coming off its first winning football season since 1997.

The bad news for the Panthers is that 24 seniors are gone from that squad that went 6-4 and finished second in the Hoosier Hills Conference. Rick Zimmerman, who returned for his second stint as Jennings coach, led Jennings to more wins than in the previous three seasons combined.

“It was one of the best teams in Jennings County history and a really good group,” Zimmerman said. “It was a fun year for the school and the community.”

Only two offensive and three defensive starters return. On offense, senior D.J. Scully moves from guard to tackle, and junior Brady Shepherd moves from tight end to tackle.

Shepherd also returns at defensive end, and senior Brendon Sutton is entering his fourth year as a starter at defensive tackle. Senior Tucker Marsh is back at cornerback.

Taking over at quarterback will be sophomore Brock Ernstes. Senior Ramon Becker steps in at fullback, and juniors Blaine Blanton and Victor Antunez and sophomore Brooks Wathen will see carries at tailback.

Junior Zane Beineke will be at wide receiver, with either Marsh or Chase Reason. Junior Tyler Redicker takes over at tight end. Seniors James Jump and Josh Rayburn will be the guards, and senior Dakota Pearson steps in at center.

Juniors Coby Greenlee and Justin Rennemeier will be at defensive end, with senior Duncan Toppe joining Sutton at tackle. Shepherd also will see action at end.

Seniors Bryce Furnish and Sam Woolf will be the inside linebackers, with junior Blaine Blanton and senior Shawn Houser at outside linebacker. Sophomore Duncan Rowda will join Marsh at cornerback, and Wathen takes over at safety.

Sophomore Dylan Boswell will be the kicker. Marsh will do the punting.

“We’re reloading this year,” Zimmerman said. “We’re young and inexperienced, and our main thing is to keep working hard and gaining experience going into the sectional.”

Brown County

The Eagles have a new coach in former Purdue, New York Giants and Cleveland Browns lineman Randy Minniear.Minniear, who worked on Wall Street for about 40 years, has been a volunteer assistant at Brown County the past seven years. He takes over a team that went 2-8 last season.

“I think we’ve improved,” Minniear said. “Our kids really put a lot of time and effort into the weight room, so we’re stronger. We’re faster than we were last year. The kids have experience at the varsity level, so I’m looking forward to having a nice season.”

Junior Alex Carney, who broke his leg early in the season, is back to run the wishbone offense. Freshman Noah Carter and sophomore Dylan Carney also could see action at quarterback.

Junior Colten Harper returns as the starting tailback. Junior Bryce Malan and Tristan Richards at tailback and juniors Justin Burns and Zach Sheppard and senior Noah Ryan at fullback also could play in the backfield.

Senior Jacob Partyka and juniors Luke Getts and Isaiah Keefauver will rotate at the tight end/receiver spots.

Senior tackle Baylee Mosier and senior center Nolan Kelly return on the offensive line. Sophomore Layton Mosier and junior Sam Blackledge could play guard or tackle, while junior tackle Matthew Duncan and senior guard Rayne Kelly also could see action.

Ryan and Partyka will be the ends on the Eagles 4-2-5 defense. Baylee Mosier or sophomore Robert Perry will play the tackle spot, and Nolan Kelly will be the nose.

Rayne Kelly and Sheppard will be the inside linebackers, and Burns and Harper will play the outside linebacker/safety spots. Richards and Malan will be the corners, and Getts at Falcon will be the free safety. Sophomore Griff Kelly also could play an outside linebacker/safety spot or corner.

Junior Ben Rygiel returns as the kicker and punter.

Edinburgh

The Lancers will look for their first winning season since 1993 after going 2-8 last year.“This year, we have a lot of athleticism at almost every position,” second-year Edinburgh coach Derrick Ball said. “We have a lot of kids that are multi-sport athletes that don’t get as much football activity as we’d like them to, but at least they’re doing something.”

Six offensive and seven defensive starters return. Sophomore Bryce Burton moves from receiver to quarterback.

Senior Zach Smiley, who played running back and receiver, will be the primary running back. Junior Jacob Atha returns at receiver and will be joined by seniors Cameron Cravens and Austin Burton.

Sophomore tackle Jordan Myers, senior guard Sean Bacha and sophomore center Ethan Armel are back on the offensive line. Junior tackle Tavian Cosby, junior guard Alex Kirby and junior tight end Zach Murphy will step into starting spots.

The Lancers return all four linebackers in Smiley, seniors Zane Smith and Noah Martin and sophomore Grant Godsey. Murphy at defensive end, Bacha at defensive tackle and sophomore Hunter Dean at safety also return.

Cosby or freshman Anthony Noe will fill the other defensive end spot. Cravens and senior Kyle Armel will be at cornerback, and junior Parker Bryant takes over at safety

Five of the 11 seniors on this year’s team are back after not playing football last year.

“We have a little bit more depth with older players,” Ball said. “We have some older kids that haven’t played football in a while. I’m glad they decided to come back out, but they’re behind. They have to play some catch-up.”

At a glance

2016 football schedules for area schools:

Jennings County

Friday;at Batesville;7 p.m.

Aug. 26;at Greensburg;7 p.m.

Sept. 2;New Albany;7 p.m.

Sept. 9;at Columbus East;7 p.m.

Sept. 16;at Madison;7 p.m.

Sept. 23;Bedford North Lawrence;7 p.m.

Sept. 30;at Seymour;7 p.m.

Oct. 7;Floyd Central;7 p.m.

Oct. 14;Jeffersonville;7 p.m.

Brown County

Friday;Edinburgh;7 p.m.

Aug. 26;South Putnam;7 p.m.

Sept. 2;at Cascade;7 p.m.

Sept. 9;at Indian Creek;7 p.m.

Sept. 16;Southside Home School;7 p.m.

Sept. 23;at Cloverdale;7 p.m.

Sept. 30;Edgewood;7 p.m.

Oct. 7;at Owen Valley;7 p.m.

Oct. 14;at WIC placement round game;7 p.m.

Edinburgh

Friday;at Brown County;7 p.m.

Aug. 26;at North Decatur;7 p.m.

Sept. 2;at Oldenburg Academy (at Mount St. Joseph);7 p.m.

Sept. 9;Switzerland County;7 p.m.

Sept. 16;South Decatur;7 p.m.

Sept. 23;Milan;7 p.m.

Sept. 30;at Traders Point Christian;7 p.m.

Oct. 7;Wes-Del;7 p.m.

Oct. 14;Southside Home School;7 p.m.

Author photo
Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.