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Columbus North football taking fired-up approach to new season
August 21, 2014Columbus North High School
A combination of fire and confidence are driving the Columbus North football team as it enters 2014.
Coming off a 3-7 season at the varsity level, a number of returnees fueled their off-season program with the desire to turn things around in the new season. And with younger players coming off a 7-2 mark at the JV level and an 8-1 record in freshman games, those moving up have confidence that they can contribute to improved results.
“We are optimistic for a successful season,” Bull Dogs coach Tim Bless said. “We have a nice blend of veteran experience and leadership with young talent.”
Seniors Josh Holt, Ezra Followell, Weston Moore, Jacob Hamblin and Nick Grady are among the team leaders.
Holt led the team with 990 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns in 2013, while Followell – a preseason state Top 22 by IndianaPreps.com – is the catalyst for an offensive line that was in the top three historically in school rushing yardage. Moore was the team’s top threat on the outside, catching 34 passes for 519 yards and 11 touchdown.
“We again are led by senior captain Josh Holt, arguably our best offensive and defensive player,” Bless said, though noting that the standout may miss early time because of a preseason injury. “Ezra Followell anchors an experienced offensive line, while Weston Moore should create many highlights.”
Sophomore Hunter Wolford and seniors Brandon Woods, Cameron Miller and Levi Johnson are set to join Followell up front, while junior Drew Schoeberl is a top prospect at tight end.
Junior Mitchell Kelley (263 yards passing, 186 yards rushing) appears poised to step up as a dual-threat quarterback, while senior Jonathan Byers (295 yards rushing) plus juniors Tyler Wang (59 yards rushing) and Collin Hatchett are additional backfield threats. Senior Clay Roberts (68 yards receiving), junior Alex Algee and senior Nick Sharp join Moore as threats on the perimeter.
Defensively, Hamblin (35 solos, 23 assists, two interceptions) and junior Brice McDaniel (39 solos, 14 assists, three sacks) figure to pace the linebacking corps, while Grady is joined by sophomore Mitchell Burton and seniors Justin Huser (31 solos, six assists) and Kaleb Steele in the secondary.
Woods (14 solos, eight assists) and Schoeberl figure into a defensive line contingent that also includes seniors Barrett Branum, Sean Kirchman, Marcus Collins and Sayre Ariishi as well as sophomores Colman Tennyson and Spencer West. Junior Sean Dasovich, Holt (35 solos, 19 assists), Hatchett and sophomore Tucker Payne figure to complement the linebackers. Moore, Sharp, sophomore Harley Huser and freshman Cortez Bandy provide support in the defensive backfield.
Specialists include senior Andrew Ng for kickoffs and placement kicks, while junior Mitchell Essex is the top punter. Burton and Sharp are primary return men, while Moore, Wang and Justin Huser also have experience in the return game.
Columbus North provided a glimpse of possibility when it notched seven touchdowns while allowing just three scores to Greenwood in a scrimmage between the teams last Friday. The Bull Dogs outgained the Woodmen 339-288. CN also forced four turnovers while committing none.
The season opens at 7 p.m. Friday (Aug. 22) at Plainfield, while the Bull Dogs host the rivalry game with Columbus East at 7 p.m. on Aug. 29. Seven weeks of Conference Indiana action commences on Sept. 5 at Bloomington North. Subsequent Fridays will feature contests against Franklin Central, Terre Haute South, Terre Haute North, Perry Meridian, Bloomington South and Southport.
In the postseason, CN again competes in Class 6A Sectional 8 with powerhouse Center Grove, Jeffersonville and New Albany. The winner of that group will face the Sectional 7 winner in the regional on Nov. 7. That survivor will play a team from Sectional 5 or 6 in the semistate on Nov. 14. The Class 6A state championship game will be Nov. 29 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Overall, Bless is positive about his team.
“So far this preseason, our attendance, attitude and effort have been fantastic,” the coach said. “We feel our intangibles could be difference-makers in tight ball games.”