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Junior high looking to feed varsity Wolfpack


October 09, 2013
The Crawford County High School football program has made great strides in the last year, and the junior high program looks to become a major feeder into the system with numbers going up and talent, as well. While many of the players are new to the game itself, there has been some success with the seventh-grade team finishing at 3-4 for the year and the eighth grade 1-6. The main goal of the coaching staff, however, is to teach and to get the players ready for their high school years.

DYLAN_SHECKELLS
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Crawford County eighth-grader Dylan Sheckells evades a defender during the Wolfpack's road trip to North Harrison. "My goal this year was to get them all playing time, and that's what I'm doing," junior high school coach Brian Ruble said. Photo by Wade Bell
"Overall, the program is on an upbeat," junior high school coach Brian Ruble said. "We know that the high school is up in numbers. We have 43 on the junior high. We're up in numbers. They play hard. It's just us getting football knowledge.

"We've got a number of kids that have not played the game. My goal this year was to get them all playing time, and that's what I'm doing. Win or lose, I'm giving them playing time. Do I have some kids that can play both ways? I do, but I'm trying to get a lot of them playing at least one side of the ball so they can get some experience."

The step between youth league football and junior high football is as big as the jump between junior high and high school. Speeds are quicker and the hitting is harder. Players have major adjustments to make to the different levels.

"We did a lot of instruction the first few weeks," coach B.J. Ruble said. "It kind of got us a little bit behind early in the season, but now that we've got guys in place and we know what we're doing, we're looking a lot better offensively and defensively. We're looking better as a team."

One thing that's been a plus for the coaching staff is that the players have been very coachable. While there are still mistakes, the players have been working to correct them.

"This is probably the most coachable bunch, the most enjoyable bunch I've ever actually coached in any level in three different schools," coach Brad Mills said. "This is a great group. It's a testament to their parents and the community that we have that they're so coachable and so easy to work with."

The three wins by the seventh-grade team include two against teams with winning traditions, Perry Central and West Washington, both Patoka Lake Athletic Conference opponents. The third was against Forest Park, who is also new with its program.

"They've improved in every level and aspect of the game," B.J. Ruble said. "It's a testament to their attitudes, because they're willing to work at it and they listen to what you say. With a little bit more strength and a little bit more instruction, we're going to be really, really solid going forward."

In their final games of the season, the junior high Wolfpack suffered losses to rival North Harrison. The seventh grade fell in a close 14-6 loss, while the eighth grade Wolfpack saw a disappointing 36-0 loss.

"They're just a lot faster than us, and it's hard to compete with a team that has kids that we can't catch," Brian Ruble said. "When they get in the open field, you can't catch them. You give them a little seam, and that's it."

All three coaches said one thing making their jobs easier is there being no attitude problems, as everybody is willing to work to make the program a better one.

"No head cases, we don't have people messing around before games or before practice," B.J. Ruble said. "We've just got a lot of great kids. They listen, and we're getting better. As long as they all stay together and get in the weight room and get with (varsity) coach (Alan) Hess all the way up through, the program is going to see a turn in the next two or three years."

"A lot of these kids watch the NFL," Mills said. "I've never seen such a group of football-hungry fans and their knowledge of that. But teaching them just a little about fundamental things and improving their football smarts. They're going to be a group that's tough to compete with later on."

"They're good kids and they just need to learn to be a little bit more aggressive on the field and learn the game a little bit more," Brian Ruble said. "That's our goal right now as junior high coaches, to teach them fundamentals and basically have them learn the game."

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Schuler Bauer
Barbara Shaw
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