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Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014

What fortunes will 2011 football season bring?

Posted Monday, August 22, 2011, at 4:52 PM

As you read this, the 2011 Indiana High School football regular season will be 1/9th completed as week one for area teams will be in the books. The season always flies by as 1/3 of the season will be done before Labor Day.

During my preseason conversations with Linton-Stockton boss Steve Weber and Eastern Greene head coach Luke Dean, they had some interesting things to say about the upcoming football season.

"North Daviess has been the best team in the conference the last two years," Weber said of projecting how things might turn out in the Southwest Seven Conference football standings this year. "But I think they will come back to the pack a little bit."

The Miners did not lose a conference game in the first four years of the SW 7 (2005-2008) before finishing 4-2 and 5-1 in league play the past two seasons.

"We definitely want to win the conference again after not winning it the past two years. I think the conference is on the upswing. Several teams will be improved," Weber said.

The Thunderbirds opened at Linton-Stockton Friday, then host North Knox and then play at North Daviess on Sept. 2.

"We come out of the gate and play three of the best teams in the conference traditionally," said Dean. "It is does not take us very long to find out where we stand.

"It is a challenging beginning, but that is a good thing. If we want to turn this program around, we have to find a way to compete with those teams. We have done a better job with North Knox and North Daviess over the past couple of years. We have played well in spurts against Linton, but they normally wear us down with their depth."

Speaking of depth, it can make up for some sins, according to Weber.

"We are still not in great shape," he said. "But our depth allows us to overcome that more so than in the past.

"We are able to play a lot of different kids in a lot of different spots."

Eastern Greene has 42 players on its roster, including 16 freshmen. The Miners started with 50.

"We are happy with the numbers," said Dean. "But injuries will still be a big key for us."

Weber echoed those sentiments.

"Unless you are Lafayette Central Catholic or one of those teams, everybody in Class A has to be concerned with injuries," said Weber. "We have some depth, but there are a few positions where we can ill avoid injuries."

Class A Sectional 40 will have a new look as Eastern Greene replaces Springs Valley. The Thunderbirds join Linton-Stockton, Union (Dugger), Tecumseh, Wood Memorial, North Knox, North Daviess and Perry Central.

"For us, it is basically the teams in the conference (everyone with the exception of North Central), plus Tecumseh and Perry Central," said Dean, who was in Class A Sectional 38 and lost to Indianapolis Scecina in the first round of tournament play the past two years. "Although there are some very good teams in that sectional, I think it will help our kids with just knowing something about the teams that we are going to face."

Weber, who's Miners won Class A Sectional 40 championships in 2007, 2008 and 2009 before losing to the Commodores in the title game at home last November, said the sectional goes through Perry Central.

"They are the defending champs until somebody beats them," said Weber. "Springs Valley has a lot of kids back and should be very good. We are actually fortunate they are now in another sectional.

"Our goal is to get the sectional title back and see how far we can go from there. We want to go to the Dome (Lucas Oil Stadium) for the state finals. Only time will tell how good we can become. I think we can be pretty special."

Dean said the Thunderbirds are aiming for two things in 2011.

"We want to win our first sectional game and we want a winning season," said Dean. "We just have to stay healthy and stay focused and committed to make that happen."

The Thunderbirds are 0-8 in the tournament. They have never been better than posting a 3-7 mark in 2009, the second season under Dean.

The regular season ends Oct. 14 and the three-week sectional will run from Oct. 21 to Nov. 4.

The regional, semistate and state finals will follow in November.

Good luck to the Miners, Thunderbirds and coach Todd Gambill's Union (Dugger) Bulldogs, who are looking to rebound from a 1-9 season a year ago.

B.J. Hargis is sports editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at (812) 847-4487, ext. 12 or at hargisbj@gmail.com

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