Jennings County is looking for a bounce-back year.
The Panthers were hit hard by graduation following a 6-4 season in 2015. They went 1-10 last fall, with their lone win coming against Madison in the sectional opener.
“We should be improved this year,” Jennings coach Rick Zimmerman said. “The main thing is, we just need to stay healthy. We have a whole new offensive line, and we hope to have some kids to step into that role. We’re hoping for better things this season.”
Senior Justin Rennemeier took over for an injured Brock Ernstes at quarterback early last year and remained there the rest of the season. Ernstes, a junior, has moved to tight end.
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Junior Brooks Wathen and senior James Colina return at running back. Senior Zane Beineke is back at wide receiver and will be joined by senior Chase Reason.
Senior Tyler Redicker moves from tight end to tackle, and sophomores Nathan McDonald and Kyle Wilson are battling for the other tackle spot.
Senior Tony Merry and junior Hunter Conrad step in at guard, and junior Johnathan Kipper takes over at center.
“We’ve worked real hard this offseason and put in a new offense,” Zimmerman said. “I always try to mold the offense around the talent we have.”
Four-year starter Brady Shepherd returns at defensive tackle and will be joined by sophomore Tim Phelps. Ernstes and junior Shon Warner will be at defensive end.
Senior Blaich Blanton and junior Dalton Grills are the inside linebackers. Wathen and senior Benton Hamann, who moves from corner, will be at outside linebacker.
Reason returns at free safety. Junior Duncan Rowda will be at cornerback with either Beineke or sophomores Anthony Wilcox or Aaron Martin.
Junior Dylan Boswell is back as the place-kicker.
Like Jennings, the Eagles are coming off a one-win season. Brown County beat Edinburgh in its opener before dropping its final nine games.
“I’m extremely optimistic,” Brown County coach Randy Minniear said. “We’re continuing to build the idea of family and getting the kids together. I think we’ll be competitive.
The Eagles have their quarterback and top rusher back in sophomore Noah Carter and senior Colten Harper. Senior Justin Burns and junior Griff Kelly also will see action in the backfield.
Seniors Alex Carney, Tristan Richards, Isaiah Keefauver and Bryce Malan; junior Devin Smith and sophomore Javon Oliphant will play the slot back/receiver spots. Senior newcomer Ezra Scully takes over at tight end.
Junior Layton Mosier returns at tackle and could be joined by junior Christian Fouts. Senior Matthew Duncan and junior Robert Perry could play guard or tackle. Senior Sam Blackledge will be the center.
Burns will be at one end in Brown County’s 4-2-5 defense, and any of the offensive lineman could play the other end or defensive tackle spots.
Harper and senior Zacc Sheppard return at linebacker, where Scully also will play. Carney and Kelly play the hybrid outside linebacker/safety spots.
Richards returns at free safety. Sophomore Alex Baker will be at one corner; with Smith, Malan, Carney and Keefauver possibly playing the other corner.
Senior Ben Rygiel returns as the kicker and punter. Scully could challenge for the punting job.
“I’ve been very pleased with what I’ve seen so far,” Minniear said. “We have some very fine skill players. We have good returning guys on the offensive line. We have a lot of sophomores that are coming up that could be very good. At least, we have a little more depth than we’ve had in the past.”
The Cougars posted their first winning season since 2010 last year but lost 2,400-yard, 32-touchdown rusher Damon Allen to graduation.
South Decatur does, however, return eight offensive starters, including senior quarterback Kordell Meadows, from a team that went 6-4. Senior Devon Martin is back at tailback and will be joined in the backfield by juniors Luke Eden and Trent Nobbe.
Senior Tucker Bushhorn and sophomore Adam Baugh will play receiver. Sophomore Jacobi Shook will be at one tackle, with junior Cody Friend or sophomore Bryce Murphy at the other. Senior Bryce Lang and junior Braden Thompson return at guard, and junior Nathan Fairchild takes over at center.
Shook and junior Jalen Winchester will be at end, with senior David Morrow and Friend at tackle in the Cougars’ 4-4 defense. Edens returns at linebacker and will be joined by Nobbe, sophomore Kenny Meadows and Lang.
Kordell Meadows and Martin return at corner. Bushhorn is back at safety. Kordell Meadows returns as the kicker.
“We’re going to have a lot of two-ways guys, but it’s a 1A school, so that’s expected,” South Decatur coach Tony Bell said. “Up front is where our best talent is. We’re going to be nine deep on the offensive and defensive line.”
The Lancers have a new coach. Jason Burton, who guided the Edinburgh baseball team in the spring, takes over for Derrick Ball following a 3-7 season.
Five starters return on offense, and the Lancers are breaking in a new quarterback in sophomore Tyson Sackman. Senior Zach Murphy moves from receiver to running back and will be joined by freshman Austin Streeval.
Senior Dillon Simpson returns at receiver and will be joined by junior Hunter Dean. Sophomore Dakota Balthazor and senior Chris Burris also could see action.
Seniors Tavian Cosby and junior Jordan Myers are back at tackle. Senior Alex Kirby returns at guard, where he will be joined by senior Zach Smith. Junior Ethan Armel steps in at center.
Kirby, Cosby and Myers are back on the defensive line and will be joined by freshman Zach Clarkson. Murphy and Armel return at linebacker, with Streeval and sophomore Anthony Noe taking over at the other linebacker spots.
Simpson is back at corner and will be joined by Dean. Freshman Preston Smith steps in at safety.
“We have a really good freshman and sophomore class right now,” Burton said. “They’re eager to learn, and they were very dedicated this summer. We have a good senior leader group, and then we have some young talent, and I think we can achieve some of the goals we have set for ourselves this season.”
Football is back at Trinity after a two-year absence. The Cougars have 24 players, 15 of which are Trinity students, while the rest are home-schooled or go to a school without football.
The Cougars will play eight games but will not play in the state tournament.
“When we put this together, the whole preface was to get us to a point where we had good numbers,” Trinity coach Mike Wilson said. “Twenty-four is a good number to start for the first year. I’m not expecting (a return to the tournament) in the next two years, but that is the goal.”
Wilson coached the Southside Homeschool Crimson Knights the past six years. With a few Trinity athletes on that team, they went 11-2 and 11-1 the past two years.
Senior quarterback Jacob Rowe and senior fullback Bryce Lister played at Trinity as freshmen and were with the Crimson Knights last year.
Freshman Tyler Goecker will be at wingback, and junior Kyle Juback and freshman Jack Marksberry will see action at tailback. Sophomore Josh Rowe and freshman Lawson Woods will play tight end.
Junior Gabe Carrizales and sophomore Chris Mau will be the tackles. Junior Ethan Watson and senior Nathan Carter will be at guard, and junior Wyatt Otte will be the center.
Josh Rowe and Carter will be the ends, and sophomore Matthew Powell and junior Hunter Morgan the tackles on a 4-3 defense. Lister is the middle linebacker, with junior Aiden Jones and Watson at outside linebacker.
Senior Nathan Thomack and sophomore Kaleb Baumgartel will be the cornerbacks. Goecker and Marksberry are the safeties.
Wilson said the Cougars will go for two most of the time rather than kicking extra points. Josh Rowe will be the punter.
“We want to win them all, but for us, the goal is to get better every week,” Wilson said. “We’re young. They have to get used to the speed of varsity football.”
2017 football schedules for area schools:
Aug. 18;Batesville;7 p.m.
Aug. 25;Greensburg;7 p.m.
Sept. 1;at New Albany;7 p.m.
Sept. 8;Columbus East;7 p.m.
Sept. 15;Madison;7 p.m.
Sept. 22;at Bedford North Lawrence;7 p.m.
Sept. 29;Seymour;7 p.m.
Oct. 6;at Floyd Central;7 p.m.
Oct. 13;Jeffersonville;7 p.m.
Aug. 18;at Edinburgh;7 p.m.
Aug. 25;at South Putnam;7 p.m.
Sept. 1;Cascade;7 p.m.
Sept. 8;Indian Creek;7 p.m.
Sept. 15;at Southside Homeschool;7 p.m.
Sept. 22;Cloverdale;7 p.m.
Sept. 29;at Edgewood;7 p.m.
Oct. 6;Owen Valley;7 p.m.
Oct. 13;WIC placement game;7 p.m.
Aug. 18;at North Decatur;7 p.m.
Aug. 25;at Eastern Hancock;7 p.m.
Sept. 1;Trinity Lutheran;7 p.m.
Sept. 8;at Milan;7 p.m.
Sept. 15;Edinburgh;7 p.m.
Sept. 22;at Park Tudor;7 p.m.
Sept. 29;Switzerland County;7 p.m.
Oct. 6;Oldenburg Academy;7 p.m.
Oct. 13;at Sheridan;7:30 p.m.
Aug. 18;Brown County;7 p.m.
Aug. 25;North Decatur;7 p.m.
Sept. 1;Oldenburg Academy;7 p.m.
Sept. 8;at Switzerland County;7 p.m.
Sept. 15;at South Decatur;7 p.m.
Sept. 22;at Milan;7 p.m.
Sept. 29;Eastern Greene;7 p.m.
Oct. 6;at Wes-Del;7 p.m.
Oct. 13;Trinity Lutheran;7 p.m.
Aug. 18;Indianapolis Tindley;7 p.m.
Sept. 1;at South Decatur;7 p.m.
Sept. 8;at Knightstown;7 p.m.
Sept. 15;Springs Valley;7 p.m.
Sept. 22;Oldenburg Academy;7 p.m.
Oct. 6;Indianapolis Shortridge;7:30 p.m.
Oct. 13;at Edinburgh;7 p.m.
Oct. 20;at Dugger Union; 7 p.m.