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Columbus North football optimistic as it enters season of change
August 22, 2013Columbus North High School
It is a little of old and a lot of new for the Columbus North football team in 2013.
Still, coach Tim Bless and the Bull Dogs feel like they can have a good season as they – along with 31 other schools – enter the world of Class 6A football.
The IHSAA’s six-class format is not the only change for Columbus North. Conference Indiana also sees a significant alteration in football with the departure of defending Class 5A champion Lawrence Central and Pike, schools that will be replaced in league play by Terre Haute North and Terre Haute South.
Also, Plainfield is a new opponent for the opener at 7 p.m. Friday, and the four-team 6A sectional field includes Center Grove, Jeffersonville and New Albany.
Despite the changes, Bless – whose squad returns senior quarterback Michael Vogel, senior offensive guard Tyson Clark and a quartet of talented defenders – is focused on the basics.
“We want to have fun playing the game we love,” the coach said of specific goals. “We want to beat our rival (Columbus East on Aug. 30), and we want to win a championship.”
The holdover starters will be crucial in achieving those objectives, including Vogel, Clark and defenders Luke Teague, Logan Lunsford, Brandon Woods and Josh Holt.
Vogel completed 101 of 205 passes for 1,295 yards and seven touchdowns last season. He also ran for 193 yards and eight TDs on 99 carries. He is complemented by junior backs Jonathan Byers (105 yards, one TD) and Kaleb Steele (102 yards, two TDs) plus junior receiver Weston Moore (nine catches, 78 yards). Junior H-back Barrett Branum, sophomore running back Tyler Wang, junior receiver Clay Roberts, senior receiver Jared Newkirk, sophomore receiver Mitchell Essex, junior tight end Jonathan Weaver and sophomore tight end Drew Schoeberl are others in skill positions.
“Michael is a veteran now with a strong command of our offense,” Bless said. “He’s much more confident passer this year and a physical runner as well. Wes is a gifted receiver with an excellent combination of speed and body control. He has given our secondary fits all preseason.”
Clark is the top returnee to a front line that includes senior tackle Trevor Shutters (who moved to the O-line near the end of last season), senior center Kenny King, junior guard Ezra Followell and senior tackle Tyler Combs. Bless said Clark and Shutters are thriving.
“Tyson is a physical football player who loves to hit,” the coach said. “He plays with ‘nastiness’ that you love in a lineman, while Trevor has a chance to become a special offensive tackle. He will get better each and every week. His size and athleticism are exactly what you want for a ‘blind-side’ tackle.”
Defensively, Lunsford, Woods, senior Jacob Barnette, senior Randall Rothrock and senior Roarke Moody are keys on the line. Teague, junior Jacob Hamblin, junior Jon Thompson, and sophomore Brice McDaniel will factor at linebacker. Holt, junior classmates Justin Huser, Clay Johnson, Nick Sharp, senior Logan Fox and sophomore Mitchell Kelley are among those who should see action in the secondary.
“Luke is the QB of our defense,” Bless said of Teague. “He is a very instinctive defensive football player and a great leader for our defense and team.”
Bless also praised Lunsford, Woods and Holt.
“Logan’s size and strength will be an anchor for our front this year,” Bless said. “He’s a prototype inside run stopper, while Brandon is our leading returning defensive lineman. He plays with a great motor every snap. Josh being voted a team captain speaks volumes about how important he is to our team. He is smart and gives an all-out effort on every play.”
Specialists include junior Collin Ebel as kicker and punter, while Moore, Roberts and Wang are kick return men.
All things combined, Bless expresses optimism about the 2013 Bull Dogs, who also will play traditional CI opponents Bloomington North, Franklin Central, Perry Meridian, Bloomington South and Southport.
“We are breaking in many new starters, so I’m confident we will grow each and every week,” he said. “We got a little banged up in the preseason, so getting back to full strength will be imperative.”
One other new item this season is the upgraded facility in which the team will play.
“We have an awesome new stadium,” Bless said. “Let’s pack the house every home game.”