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The Republic Athletes of the Year: Football


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Offensive: Markell Jones

East’s star back: What a rush

Columbus East junior tailback Markell Jones has been taking in his team’s Class 4A state championship and trying to put it all into context.

Then he received a Facebook message from a mother in town. Her son was celebrating his eighth birthday and he wanted to meet Markell Jones.

“She asked if I would to go to his party because it would make his day,” Jones said. “So I went and signed a football for him.”

His incredible talent, the kind that made him this year’s The Republic Offensive Athlete of the Year in football, has also left him with other challenges.

He now is a role model.

“It’s something I have to be aware of,” said Jones, who rushed for 2,653 yards and scored 43 touchdowns in East’s 15-0 season. “But it’s not really a challenge for me. I keep my nose clean.”

His Offensive Athlete of the Year award just adds to a magical season.

“You couldn’t have written this story any better,” he said. “But if I could share the Offensive Athlete of the Year award, I would. I did the easy part.”

Jones, and his teammates, made it look easy. “Obviously, everyone knows about Markell’s potential,” East coach Bob Gaddis said. “That’s reflected in his performance.

“But I was happiest about how much Markell improved. He was a more complete player whether that had to do with his blocking, or carrying out his fakes or catching the football. I think Markell had a good understanding of what we were trying to do.”

Gaddis said that Jones never lost sight of the fact

that he only could go as far as his offensive line would take him.

“I don’t think he took that for granted,” Gaddis said.

Jones didn’t.

“I sat down with my dad (Jym Jones) before the season, and we talked about my goals, 2,000 yards rushing, 30 to 35 touchdowns.

“I couldn’t have done it without the help of the offensive line or our tight ends, or for our wide receivers for that matter. It’s hard to block out there.”

Jones said that Gaddis added “bag drills” and “ladder drills” to East’s practice sessions this past season. Both are quick step type of drills and Jones said it was a huge help.

“It improved my quickness a lot,” he said. “It made a lot of impact.”

Gaddis was happy with the impact Jones made on the field.

“His numbers were pretty good for the amount of times he carried it (Jones averaged 10.53 yards per carry),” Gaddis said. “He also bought into the goal that we would make our practices challenging. As a result, the whole team got better.”

Since East didn’t play its starters late in many of the blowouts, the Olympians had to work hard in practice to be prepared for when they would be challenged in the fourth quarter.

Jones did the work then, and he plans to do more as he heads into his senior year.

“There were problems,” he said of his season. “I have to work on my blocking and work on my speed. I got caught too many times from behind.

“Dusty Kiel (former East quarterback) has me hooked up and pulling a sled. We are working on stretching and flexibility. I am going to run track, maybe the long jump, the high jump and the hurdles.”

He wants to do whatever he can to improve. Plus he wants to be a team leader.

“I was sitting with (junior defensive back) Tyler Campbell. We want to defend our title. We need to get bigger, stronger, faster. We had great senior leadership on this team, but our junior class, we’re a tough class, too.

“I’ve been really wanting to lead this team.”

Defensive: Brock Patterson

Sack helped secure state title

If one could play could sum up Brock Patterson’s effort during his entire high school football career at Columbus East, it was his last desperate rush against Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger in the Class 4A state championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Patterson, The Republic’s Defensive Athlete of the Year in football, wouldn’t be denied.

With the Saints threatening to complete a game-winning drive in the final minute, the senior defensive end crashed past

the offensive tackle, circled the pocket and kept his motor running at full blast. He came from behind to crush Dwenger quarterback Mike Fiacable and force a fumble. After a scramble, East eventually recovered and ran out the clock for a 28-27 triumph.

“I’ve watched that play a couple of times since,” said Patterson, who finished the season with 69 tackles, including 11 for loss. “It was the one play I was glad I could make.

“The end of the state (title) game, that last play, I didn’t even realize they had lost the ball. It almost felt like a movie to me.”

Any movie involving Patterson would be titled “Hard Work and Desire.”

“He brings a tremendous amount of energy to everything he does,” East coach Bob Gaddis said. “He was a guy who people understood how good he was. People would try to run away from him. That was a tribute to him that they always knew where he was at.”

With opponents headed in the opposite direction, it was tough on Patterson.

“It’s pretty frustrating (when teams run to the other side), but you need to have trust in the other guys,” Patterson said. (East’s other defensive end) Brock Greiwe did a great job on the other side.”

Even though he didn’t have running backs coming right at him, Patterson still made plays.

“It’s something we are taught at East, that you are supposed to run until the end of the play,” Patterson said. “In practice, we use two whistles. The one at the end of the play, and the one where everyone gets to the ball. I got better as I was taught that here at East.”

Gaddis said he never had to worry about him playing hard.

“He was elected a team captain,” Gaddis said.

“We always say there are three ways to lead, by example, by example, by example. He was a great example for others.”

Even though East went 15-0 and won the state championship, Patterson thought he could have played better.

“I thought I could go even harder,” he said.

“You want to take that extra step, make that extra push. I didn’t make every single play.”

But he made a lot of plays that didn’t show up in

statistics.

“People don’t recognize the type of responsibilities you might have,” he said.

“I had a game where I didn’t have a tackle, but I thought I played well. There were just responsibilities that I had to do.”

A state title was the biggest reward, and now he has been named Defensive Athlete of the Year.

“I am very thankful,” he said.

“I think I did a pretty good job with leadership. But the other 10 guys were the most important part of our defense. I don’t think you can single anyone out. I thought we all did a great job together. We had a lot of really good players.”

Those players all blended together for a perfect season.

“It’s been something else,” Patterson said.

“I’ve never had a feeling like it. Every kid on the team I was friends with. If you can respect each other and be friends, you will play hard for each other.”

Now it’s time for Patterson to think about the future.

“It’s not over,” he said.

“I need to start working out again. I’m getting ready for track season and I am taking trips for football.”

Patterson, who is 6-foot-1, 235 pounds, has several universities on his radar, such as St. Francis and Marian, that are interested in having him join their program.

1 Senior’s consistency paid dividends for Cougars

GREENSBURG — One constant in terms of excellence for the South Decatur football program has been Chris Johannigman.

Despite a 3-7 season, Johannigman again proved that he is a multitalented athlete.

For his outstanding play, Johannigman has earned The Republic’s Football Athlete of the Year award for South Decatur High School.

“He was very devoted to our football program,” South Decatur head coach Rodney Martin said. “He was a tremendous athlete to coach.”

Johannigman threw for 1,310 yards and six touchdown passes on a team that worked hard this season to develop its rushing attack. He gained 157 yards rushing and six more touchdowns.

He not only competed as a quarterback but was a key factor on South Decatur’s defensive and special teams units. He had two interceptions and handled the punting chores. He was designated by his teammates as a team captain for the season.

“Coach (Martin) was impressed how I adjusted to his style of offense,” Johannigman said. “We were previously a passing team, but coach wanted us to run the ball more and for me to be more of a run-option quarterback.”

Martin might have liked Johannigman’s athletic skills and competitiveness, but it was his mental toughness, community outreach and excellence in the classroom that impressed him the most.

“Outside of football, he is one of the top students academically in his class,” Martin said. “He is a very active member in his church and is a great mentor to a lot of his peers here at school.”

— James Pence, For The Republic

 

2 Lineman made huge impact for feisty Lancers

EDINBURGH — When it came to the field, Edinburgh offensive and defensive lineman Dakota Sneed simply was the total package.

A four-year starter for the Lancers, Sneed made a major impact on both sides of the ball, being a three-year starter at center as well as long-snapper on punts and extra points, and a three-year starter at

defensive end.

Edinburgh coach Bill Unsworth said that Sneed was everything he wanted in a player. For Sneed’s efforts, he has been named The Republic’s Player of the Year for Edinburgh.

“He was a hard hitter and tried to make big plays on every down,” Unsworth said. “Having a big guy like him blocking or tackling for you is amazing.”

Sneed recorded 67 solo tackles, with 14 for losses, five sacks and an interception returned for a touchdown.

Unsworth said Sneed’s presence on the field had other teams switch to a different game plan.

“People ran away from him, and people didn’t want to run to him,” Unsworth said. “You could tell that people game-planned around him. He still found a way.”

Sneed said his recognition as Player of the Year for Edinburgh showed his hard work paid off.

“It showed how hard I worked over the summer,” Sneed said. “Being given that honor showed how much of a leader I was for the team.”

While Sneed’s stats were impressive his senior season, he said he credits his teammates.

“I can’t say I was the reason for the team’s success,” Sneed said. “The team’s bonding and toughness was what gave us big wins.”

Sneed plans to play football in college, taking a look at the University of Indianapolis, Ball State, Franklin and Marian.

— Calvin Johnson, For The Republic

3 Defensive star led charge for Jennings County

NORTH VERNON — It was just one of the many outstanding plays he made during the season and a reason senior Nick Nixon was named The Republic’s Athlete of the Year for Jennings County’s football team.

“During our regular season game against Floyd Central, Nick was playing at cornerback, a few yards off the receiver,” Jennings County defensive coordinator Andrew Smith said. “Then, on his own, he decided to switch to a press defense, and he moved right up on the receiver. He disrupted the receiver’s timing.”

Nixon thought he saw something revealing while looking into the quarterback’s eyes that indicated a pass was headed his way. Nixon’s adjustment paid

off instantly.

“I took five or six shuffle steps toward the receiver,” Nixon said. “He wasn’t expecting me to press, and he couldn’t readjust.”

The Panthers coaching staff appreciated Nixon’s ability to adapt quickly to situations on the field. The coaches trusted him.

“He’d break out of his technique once in a while,” defensive backs coach Kyle McCrary said. “But the coaches never worried about that because he’s such a natural football player with great instincts.”

Nixon acquired those instincts at an early age, beginning his football career when he was 5. The son of Todd and Nancy Nixon learned the game quickly because he was born into a football family.

Nixon deflected praise for his accomplishments.

“Individual awards are nice,” he said. “But we let three games get away from us this year that we should have won, the game against Jeffersonville and both games against Floyd Central. That would’ve given us a winning record. I wish I could trade my individual awards for a few more wins.”

— Ryan Schroer, For The Republic

4 Eagles’ signal-caller took offense to new heights

NASHVILLE — After flourishing in a spread offense for three years, Dillon Boknecht had to learn a new system over the summer.

That didn’t faze the Brown County senior, who led the Eagles to their first winning season in a decade. Brown County finished 6-5.

“It definitely could have been better,” said Boknecht, The Republic Football Athlete of the Year for Brown County. “We had some games we completely dominated and let them go. But it was definitely a lot better than in the past.”

New coach Ethan Schrieber, who instituted an option attack after replacing Ken Wendling, pointed to a couple of games where Boknecht almost willed the team to big comebacks, only to fall a little short.

The Eagles trailed Northview by 28 points in the regular season and were driving for the tying touchdown when they were tackled on the 2-yard line as time ran out.

“We had to come back in a couple games, and there was no doubt in his mind we could do it,” Schreiber said. “He just went out and made it happen.”

Boknecht, a four-year starter at quarterback, completed 88 of 171 passes for 1,351 yards and

20 touchdowns, with only four interceptions this season. He carried 106 times for 412 yards and five scores.

“It was different going from the spread to option,” Boknecht said. “But I enjoyed it.”

Schreiber used Boknecht a little on the defensive side, as well. Boknecht recorded 13 tackles, one pass deflection and two fumble recoveries.

“He was a great leader,” Schreiber said.

“Everyone kind of looked at him as the leader. His leadership, he never really hesitated. It was pretty obvious from the beginning of the summer.”

— Ted Schultz, The Republic

5 Pair of seniors provided leadership for Trinity

SEYMOUR — Two seniors who did everything in their power to help build the football program have been picked as The Republic co-Athletes of the Year for football at Trinity Lutheran High School.

Jonathan Rollins and Jacob Harless both were key contributors on offense and defense for the Cougars, who went 4-6 in just their second year of the football program.

“In practice, these two guys would be the first two to arrive and then would be the last two to leave,” Trinity Lutheran head coach Anthony Levy said. “These guys were always prepared for every game.”

Their senior leadership was key in holding together a team that mainly was being built with freshmen and sophomores.

“I dedicated everything I had into this season,” Rollins said. “I really had to lead by example out there for the younger guys on our team.

“We would not have won that many games if we did not take our practices seriously. I had to show our underclassmen that we couldn’t joke around out there.”

Harless said he felt the same way.

“I worked really hard this season,” Harless said. “I wanted to help the team out anyway that I could. I put a lot of time and effort on and off of the field and in the weight room.”

Rollins caught 57 passes for 1,099 yards and nine touchdowns. He had 30 tackles on defense and three interceptions.

Harless rushed for a team-high 458 yards and seven touchdowns and added 35 catches for 429 yards receiving and four touchdowns. Like Rollins, he also had 30 tackles on defense.

“Both guys knew how to produce in their own ways,” Levy said.

— James Pence, For The Republic

6 Junior wide receiver lifted Owls during tough time

SEYMOUR — Although Seymour struggled through a winless season, it didn’t stop junior wide receiver

Zach Schlatterer from having a standout season.

Schlatterer set a school record with a 94-yard reception against Madison. He broke the old record of  90 yards that had been set two seasons earlier.

Besides his record catch, Schlatterer led the Owls with 828 yards receiving. Among his 36 catches were

11 touchdowns. For his effort, Schlatterer is this season’s Player of the Year for Seymour.

Seymour coach Josh Shattuck said that Schlatterer’s experience and leadership on the football field was valuable, especially since the Owls’ roster was filled with freshmen and sophomores at key positions.

“He had to rely heavily on Zach this season,” Shattuck said. “With us playing so many younger guys, it was nice to have that leadership out there and to have a receiving threat that has the ability to stretch the defense vertically. It gave us a lot of options at times especially when we were outsized at the other positions.”

Schlatterer also was valuable when it came to keeping his teammates positive.

“It wasn’t the best season we had this year,” he said. “I had to make sure to keep the team’s spirit up and to keep them going. We had to fight hard every night on the field.

“A lot of the younger guys on this team looked up to me. I tried to help those guys out in practice and in the weight room.”

What impressed Shattuck the most was Schlatterer’s attitude in practice, in games and off the field.

“He is kind of a quiet guy at first,” Shattuck said. “Once you get to know him, though, he always likes to joke around with his friends and teammates. He is a really fun guy to be around.”

— James Pence, For The Republic

2013 All-Area Football Team

Offense

Quarterback: Alex Cowan,

Columbus East, senior

Running back: Markell Jones, Columbus East, junior

Running back: Josh Holt,

Columbus North, junior

Wide receiver: JT Voelker,

Columbus East, junior

Wide receiver: Westin Moore, Columbus North, junior

Wide receiver: Zach Schlatterer, Seymour, junior

Tight end: Rhett Myers,

Columbus East, sophomore

Offensive lineman: Evan Kuhn, Columbus East, senior

Offensive lineman: Devorus Lewis, Columbus East, junior

Offensive lineman:  Tyson Clark, Columbus North, senior

Offensive lineman: Ezra Followell, Columbus North, senior

Offensive lineman: Colton Castetter, Jennings County, senior

Place kicker: Paul Baker,

Columbus East, senior

Defense

Defensive lineman: Brock Patterson, Columbus East, senior

Defensive lineman: Dalton Bateman, Columbus East, senior

Defensive lineman: Brock Greiwe, Columbus East, junior

Defensive lineman: Brice McDaniel, Columbus North, sophomore

Defensive lineman: Dakota Sneed, Edinburgh, senior

Linebacker: Christian Wichman,

Columbus East, senior

Linebacker: Logan Galarno,

Columbus East, senior

Linebacker: Luke Teague,

Columbus North, senior

Defensive back: Josh Holt,

Columbus North, junior

Defensive back: John Busack,

 Columbus East, senior

Defensive back: Nick Beamish,

Columbus East, junior

Defensive back: Nick Nixon,

Jennings County, senior

Punter: Collin Ebel, North, junior

Honorable mention

North: Quarterback Michael Vogel, senior; tight end Drew Schoeberl, sophomore; defensive back Collin Ebel, junior; defensive lineman Brandon Woods, junior; linebacker Jacob Hamblin, junior; offensive lineman Trevor Shutters, senior; East: Offensive lineman Seth Frownfelter, senior; offensive lineman Jared Whiteside, senior; tight end Karson Kamman, junior; wide receiver Sean Owens, senior; defensive back Tyler Campbell, junior; defensive lineman Connor Roberts, junior; linebacker Sam Dwenger, sophomore; Brown County: Quarterback Dillon Boknecht, senior; offensive lineman Keith Bechtel, senior; wide receiver Luke Huls, senior; Edinburgh: Running back Kevin Johnson, junior; defensive back Dakota Dayton, senior; defensive back Elliott Parmer, junior; Jennings County: Linebacker Peyton Shepherd, sophomore; running back Preston Teltow, senior; South Decatur: Quarterback Chris Johannigman, senior; linebacker Damon Martin, junior; Trinity Lutheran: Running back Jacob Harless, senior; wide receiver Jonathan Rollins, senior

 

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