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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Are you ready for some football?

Posted Wednesday, August 15, 2012, at 8:36 PM

The scrimmages are behind us, the preseason polls are out and the weather has already enough of a turn to make us wonder what Mother Nature will bring us this winter.

So what does all these mean? It's time to kick off the 2012 Indiana High School Athletic Association football season.

With the exception of Saturday's schedule, which features Bloomington North vs. Columbus East, Bowman Academy at Indianapolis Marshall, Edgewood vs. North Putnam, Evansville Central at Marion County (Ky.), Monrovia vs. Greencastle, Tipton vs. Hamilton Heights and Whiting at Hammond Clark, the rest of the prep football teams in Indiana will begin Friday night.

The area teams are no exception as Linton-Stockton and Eastern Greene will meet for the 12th time in their series, dating back to 2003 when the Thunderbirds started playing varsity football.

Union will host North Central Friday in the 58th meeting between the members of the Northeast School Corporation.

Both games will start at 7 p.m.

The series between the Bulldogs and T-Birds dates back to 1968, when North Central started football under the late Dick Jones, who passed away earlier this year.

Like Forest Park, the Thunderbirds were competitive in football from the beginning. They won five of the first six meetings with Linton-Stockton. The only loss was a 14-12 decision in the first game in 1968 at Linton.

His son Barry Jones got a full-ride to the University of Oklahoma as a running back. That's something that doesn't happen very often in the Wabash College.

Barry got injured at OU and ended up his career at the University of Evansville. He still resides there today.

Jones was in charge of the football program at North Central through 1987, when he was forced to resign as coach after a couple of tough seasons.

He continued to teach and coach track and field at North Central and even earned a spot on the Northeast School Corp. board of trustees.

Rest in peace, my friend.

On a lighter note, the controlled scrimmages are pretty much cut and dried -- 15 snaps from here, 10 snaps from there and 12 more plays from somewhere else.

But the crew of officials Friday night at Cloverdale had trouble with counting.

Linton-Stockton only got 13 of 15 plays in its first series and the Clovers had just 14.

The Miners got 11 plays instead of 10 during the goal line series.

There were various comments from the Miner sideline including, "I know you can't see, but I thought you could at least count."

"I know it is tough to count to 15, 10 and 12."

It was a preseason game for reporters, photographers, players, coaches, statisticians and referees too.

Maybe we had replacement referees like the NFL, but didn't know it, ha ha? The refs have a thankless job and hats off to their effort. But it was funny, nonetheless.

I asked a few people whether they liked the controlled scrimmage instead of the old jamboree.

Miner coach Steve Weber said he liked it, but most of his coaching staff preferred the jamboree, which featured five or six teams playing a couple of quarters against different teams.

Dr. Eric Wilson, a former Miner standout, said he preferred the jamboree.

"It was the same atmosphere as a game," he said. "We were fired up to play the jamboree.

"It was nothing compared to this," Wilson said as he pointed to a subdued crowd.

He said he got hit in the head with a beer bottle at either North Knox or North Daviess one year during the jamboree.

Miner ball man Mike Misner said he thought a scrimmage wasn't necessary today because teams can now meet with their coaches during the summer.

"I think they could do away with the scrimmage and add a 10th game," he said. "There are other things they could do with the schedule and still finish by Thanksgiving weekend."

I like his way of thinking.

From a personal standpoint, Dr. Wilson and I came to a meeting of the minds. I told him I thought there was more teaching going on in a scrimmage and the players still got to hit somebody in a different uniform.

Admittedly, one team had a great gate each year for the jamboree, but not much was accomplished. If one team held the ball on offense for almost a whole quarter, you could be stuck on defense the whole time.

Teams always would be very conservative because they would be playing these same teams during the regular season. There are no secrets, really, but don't tell that to a coach.

With a scrimmage against team you don't face in the regular season, you know how many plays (most of the time) you are going to get and can make sure that everyone gets plenty of work and a good look.

Like class basketball, I think the scrimmage is here to stay in football, for better or worse.

There are all kinds of questions as the we prepare for this season. Can the Miners make a run at a Class A state championship? Will this be their last season to do that for awhile?

Can Linton-Stockton's defense set up the offense like they did time and time again last year?

Can the Miners possibly duplicate 2011's 716 points scored?

Can Eastern Greene post a .500 season for the first time after setting a school record 5-6 mark in 2011?

Will Union have its first winning season since posting a 6-4 mark in 2008?

Over the next 15 weeks, five champs will be determined in Indiana.

Carmel, Indy Cathedral, Indy Chatard, Fort Wayne Luers and Lafayette Central Catholic were the five champs in 2011. LCC defeated Indy Scecina 38-7 in the Class A title game after Scecina beat Linton-Stockton 17-0 in the semistate championship game last November. LCC is the three-time defending state champion.

Luers also has won three in a row and 4 of 5. Cathedral and Chatard each has won two straight state titles and 4 of 6.

Carmel beat Penn 54-0 in the Class 5A championship game last year. The Greyhounds now have three titles (1989 and 1997).

Best of luck to all the players, coaches and fans. Hope your teams have a safe and successful season.

B.J. Hargis is the sports editor at the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at (812) 847-4487, ext 20 or at hargisbj@gmail.com

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