NO matter how tough things got for the Columbus North High School football team, the players said they never lost faith in their program.
At Bloomington South, football coach Kirk Kennedy has all the nuts and bolts of rebuilding a program in place. Now his task is getting his players to believe.
The two teams collide Friday at Bloomington South High School, and the Bull Dogs, who are 2-5 overall and 2-3 in Conference Indiana, will have the edge.
“Physically, we’ve gotten better here,” said Kennedy, who is working through his third season in charge of the program. “Our disconnect, or our issue, is mental.
About the Panthers
North’s opponent: Bloomington South Panthers
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Bloomington South High School
Record: Bloomington South 1-6 overall, 0-5 Conference Indiana after a 56-0 loss to Pike on Friday
Most recent meeting: 42-0 loss to Columbus North in 2011
Key players: QB Matt Henderson, TB Eli Eads, FB Johnathon Winters, LB Drew Doehla
Bloomington South coach: Kirk Kennedy
Building a program is tough enough, but when you are doing it in this conference, you don’t get many opportunities to get your feet under yourself.”
Kennedy, whose career record is 165-93, expects the Panthers to return to their winning ways in the near future.
But whether Bloomington South can shake the growing pains this season remains to be seen.
The Panthers, who won their season opener and since have lost six straight, are led by quarterback Matt Henderson.
“He is one of our captains, but he is a lot more than that,” Kennedy said. “He is an inspiration. He is playing out of position, but he knows our situation, and he understands the game. He also plays strong safety for us, and that’s where he is being recruited.”
Kennedy said his team will try to establish the run first against Columbus North, which has to switch gears after last Friday facing Perry Meridian, which primarily relied on its passing game.
Junior Eli Eads has rushed for more than 500 yards this season for the Panthers, and he will do the brunt of the work. Fullback Dakota Thacker has been effective clearing the way for Eads.
Senior Johnathon Winters is Bloomington South’s top wide receiver, and Kennedy said he might be the team’s top all-around athlete.
The Panthers have an offensive line made up of juniors.
“For the most part, they have delivered this season,” Kennedy said. “But we are inconsistent.”
Drew Doehla is the Panthers’ leading tackler and middle linebacker.
“He’s a pretty good player,” Kennedy said. “He makes a lot of plays for us.”
Doehla will have to make a lot of plays against North.
“On film, you can see that Columbus North went to running the ball a lot more,” Kennedy said.
Jamaal Halliburton rushed for 292 yards and five touchdowns in the win against Perry Meridian on Friday.
Bloomington South is coming off a 42-7 loss to Lawrence Central and a 56-0 loss to Pike.