After losing 18 players to graduation last year, Bremen’s young squad was already facing a learning curve at the start of the season. With injuries to key players in Weeks 2 and 3, the Lions have been forced to make even more adjustments on the fly.
Bremen started the season with its second straight win over Plymouth to extend its regular-season win streak to 14 games, but star tailback Reid Zellmer went down with a broken collarbone in the Lions’ first offensive series of their Indianapolis Colts Horseshoe Hall of Fame Classic game in Week 2, and Tippecanoe Valley handed Bremen a 21-7 loss to snap that streak. Junior two-way lineman Caleb Coffel went down with an broken ankle early last Friday, and the Lions took their second straight loss, 41-14 rout at New Prairie.
Change has been about the only constant for the Lions as they head into their Week 4 Northern State Conference match-up at Triton this Friday.
“We’re in an adjustment period. We’ve got a bunch of young kids playing to begin with, and we lost Reid Zellmer in Week 2 to a broken collarbone, and early in the New Prairie game in our first offensive series Caleb Coffel broke his ankle, our best offensive and defensive player. Josh Fuchs has a slight concussion. We were falling like flies on Friday so for us to compete as well as we did given the situation… we’re just going to try to stay optimistic and keep working and plugging along,” said Bremen head football coach Bob Holmes.
“We’ve changed our backfield every week,” he added. “It’s very hard to be consistent when your’e constantly changing positions because you’ve got kids who are injured or not being able to get it done. We’ve got a sophomore, Kevin Heckaman, probably going to come in and probably start for us at tailback this week. He ended up playing most of the game last week. We’re calling Dillon Mullen, a senior, to play fullback. Joel Miller’s taking Caleb Coffel’s defensive position at nose, and we made Zach Zimmer another two-way player playing left tackle for us. Quite frankly everybody that’s starting on the offensive line except for two guys and our entire backfield have been totally different the last four practices.”
Friday’s game represents an opportunity for both the Lions (1-2, 0-1 NSC) and the Trojans (0-3, 0-1 NSC) to break into the conference win column and a chance for Triton to earn its first win of the season.
The Trojans are coming off a loss to Culver Community in which a slow start cost the Trojans a 37-19 loss. The Lions also struggled after halftime in their conference opener at New Prairie, and this week the team is trying to keep things simple for its inexperienced players as well as limit the kinds of mistakes that have come back to haunt the Lions the past two weeks.
“We just have to condense the playbook and keep it simple, and let these kids grow as they play under fire. It’s already been a challenge because we’re young, but we’re not going to use any of this as an excuse, and we’re going to do the best that we possibly can,” said Holmes.
“It’s extremely important to play well, and I think if you play well the wins will start taking care of themselves. We’ve just got to stop making mistakes. We have a lot of things we have to get better at. Our special teams put us in huge holes last week. We have to mature and continue to get better each and every week. The one thing I’ve always said is you can’t replace experience on a football team, and we just have to play and get better. That’s unfortunately what we’re doing with sophomores at the varsity level, and it’s a challenge but we’re not going to back down from it… This is a huge week to play better. I think if we do that, hopefully, the wins and losses will take care of themselves.”
Kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Culver Community vs New Prairie
A win has a way of curing all kinds of ills, and Culver Community is hoping that’s the case as the Cavaliers (1-2, 1-0 NSC) play host to New Prairie (3-0, 1-0 NSC) this Friday.
Culver earned its first win of the season in its Northern State Conference opener at Triton last week, and the Cavs are looking to carry over that momentum against the unbeaten Cougars in Week 4. But even though it felt good to get the ‘W’, Culver wasn’t resting on any laurels as the team got back to work Monday.
“Any time you win it kind of pumps you up and makes you feel better about coming in and working at it. We were happy, we were relieved to kind of get the monkey off our back, but really it was back to reality Monday and today,” said Culver head coach Andy Thomas. “We’re just getting after it, and the kids were tired and had a real tough practice today, so really Triton was over with pretty quickly once we started our preparations this week. But it is nice for the kids; I was happy for our kids and our coaches to finally get a ‘W’.”
Culver did a decent job of containing the Trojans’ rushing game last week, limiting the home team to 160 yards. The Cavs will have to take another step forward Friday as they try to do the same against a Cougars run game that chewed up 318 yards on the ground against Bremen last week, however, and in order to do that, Culver’s offense will need to manage the clock.
“We can’t let them just run right over us,” said Thomas. “They play hard; they’re a really good running team. We’re going to have to get some stops. We’ve got to be able to get off the field and control the ball on offense. We’re going to have to play fast. We played a lot faster Friday against Triton than we had the first two games. We played with more energy, more enthusiasm, and we’re going to have to continue that if we’re going to be successful.”
At 1-0 in the conference, Culver is still in control of its own NSC destiny. The Cavs would like things to stay that way, but rather than worrying about the Northern State standings, Thomas said he’s more concerned about seeing continued improvement from his players.
“Every win in the NSC is a big win for us. Really though, more importantly we want to keep some positive momentum and keep getting better and just keep improving as a football team week to week,” he said.
Kick-off is slated for 7:30 p.m.
CMA vs Lafayette Central Catholic
Culver Military Academy (2-1) is facing its toughest test yet as it hosts Class A No. 1 Lafayette Central Catholic (3-0) Friday.
The Knights have reeled off three straight state championships on a win streak that stretches back to 2008. But LCC has had to hang in to win by seven points or less versus Guerin Catholic and Twin Lakes the past two weeks. You can’t win them all, and if the Knights have got to lose sometime, CMA head coach Andy Dorrel is asking why shouldn’t it be to his Eagles?
“Lafayette, they’ve won 47 games in a row and three state championships, and they do a fantastic job with their kids down there,” said Dorrel. “Fortunately we play at our place, and somebody’s got to beat them, so why not us? We asked our kids why us and why now? Let’s get after it and have a great opportunity this Friday.”
In order to snap LCC’s incredible win streak, the Eagles will need to play their best football. They haven’t quite been able to do that yet, but the good news is that at 2-1 already, Dorrel knows his team is capable of more.
“We have not played a complete football game yet. We’ve played well at times, but we haven’t executed at the level that we think we’re capable of yet,” said the CMA skipper. “That doesn’t just come from the coaching staff, that comes from the players as well. Our young men know that they are capable of being a very special team, and we just haven’t showed that yet.”
Lafayette Catholic is a test for any team under any circumstance, but CMA is facing another challenge as it tries to get back on the winning track after suffering its first loss on the road at Heritage Christian last week. But while that 36-20 loss didn’t sit well with the Eagles, they don’t seem to have lost any morale either.
“After the Heritage game we just said ‘You know what, we stubbed our toe, and we’re just going to move forward and be better next week.’ The kids responded very well, they didn’t hang their heads, they showed up for Saturday workouts, and we got moving towards becoming a better football team,” Dorrel said. “We want to put this behind us. The kids have told me how much they hate losing, and we’ve got a good group of young men who are competitors. I told our guys even though we lost on Friday I thought we had a special team here, but I know we have a special team here because of the way they continued to battle and compete in the loss. Any time you have young men who want to persevere through hardships and overcome challenges you have the opportunity to be successful, and I think that’s what we have this year. We may not win on Friday, but I know that we’re going to compete hard and give a great showing.”
Kick-off is 7:30 p.m.
In other area action…
After struggling to move the ball in the first three weeks, John Glenn finally got its offense rolling at Knox last Friday, breaking into the win column with a 32-18 defeat of the host Redskins.
The Falcons (1-2, 1-1 NSC) are hoping to keep things rolling this week as they host LaVille (1-2, 0-1 NSC). But they’ll be facing an energized Lancers squad that, after snapping a 14-game losing streak in Week 2, put on a strong showing against Class 3A No. 2 Jimtown last week, holding the Jimmies to a single score in the first half before wearing down in the second for a 34-0 loss.
“We’re excited to see John Glenn,” said LaVille head coach Mark Reddy after last week’s Jimtown game. “They’re a team that has traditionally beat us up a little bit, and we know that they’re going to be gunning for us. It’ll be a big game for us. We’re going to have some momentum, even though we lost (to Jimtown). We played the type of game that I think we’re going to expect to play every week now. You won’t see a Lancers letdown for the rest of the year.”
The NSC showdown starts at 7:30 p.m.