NORTH VERNON — Tommy Taylor and the Jennings County football team didn’t enjoy quite the football season this year that they had in 2011.
Taylor, who rushed for nearly 1,000 yards as a junior fullback when the Panthers went 5-5, moved to tailback and missed four games with a knee injury this season. As a result, Jennings struggled to a 1-9 record.
“When we didn’t have him, we were a much different football team,” Jennings County coach Scott Buening said.
It was obvious that Taylor made the difference for Jennings County. He earned The Republic’s Jennings County Player of the Year honor.
The Panthers’ lone win came in Week 5, when they won 21-20 in overtime at Madison. Taylor carried 49 times for 244 yards and two touchdowns in that game.
“We fed him the ball over 40 times, and he basically just carried us that game,” Buening said.
Taylor finished the season with 130 carries for 649 yards and six touchdowns. He also played defensive end and was named All-Hoosier Hills Conference.
“The season didn’t go as well as we thought it would go,” Taylor said. “Defensively, I don’t think I played as well as last year, but I think I did all right. Individually, I thought I had an all right season.”
For his career, Taylor carried 321 times for 1,776 yards and 18 touchdowns and caught 36 passes for 511 yards and two scores. On defense, he had 104 tackles and seven sacks.
“Tommy has been doing it really for three years,” Buening said. “You name it, he’s played it.
“He’s as good a receiver as I’ve ever coached, he’s as good a blocking back as I’ve ever coached, and he’s a darn good runner,” he said. “He’s very productive, a great competitor. He’s just a grinder and very competitive, works very hard, and I think he took losing harder than anyone. He’s certainly the type of kid you want leading your program.”
Taylor, who is currently playing basketball for the Panthers, plans to play college football. University of Indianapolis has shown interest in him as a defensive lineman or possibly even a tight end, a position he played a little in high school.
“I actually like it,” Taylor said. “You can go out on pass routes and stuff. It’s a pretty good deal.”