Decatur Central head coach Kyle Enright watches Hawk junior-varsity players and freshmen go through a preseason workout.
If it sounds like Kyle Enright is getting defensive about his football team, it should.
For the Hawks, up-front defense will be the benchmark, especially early in the season.
“The front seven on defense is our most veteran group,” Enright says as he prepares the Hawks for his seventh season at the helm. “We have guys up front who are experienced and senior leaders.”
They’ll need that, as many of those who led the Class 5A Hawks to a 9-2 record in 2021 have graduated.
That lot includes Javon Tracy, the last of the standout family of brothers. After leading DC in six categories, he has gone to Miami of Ohio.
“We had 13 guys go to college football,” Enright noted. “It was a very productive senior class. They accounted for a lot of yards, a lot of tackles. We’re losing Kaleb Hicks at running back (1,307 yards, 15 touchdowns, to Indiana Wesleyan). He will be hard to replace.”
Enright and his staff are busy.
“We’ve got a lot of new guys,” he said. “We’re more strong on the defensive side with Aycen Stevens (inside linebacker), Cameron Renick (inside linebacker) and Alec Lawson (defensive end).”
It’s that defensive front that will lead the way, according to its coach.
“Trey Hall is a big defensive tackle – 6-4, 295,” Enright noted. “He’s looking to replace some guys. MJ Campbell (6-2, 235 junior) is a transfer from Perry Meridian. He has a great work ethic and is relentless to the ball. Alec Lawson (6-3, 22 senior defensive end) was All Mid-State.”
Directly behind them will be the likes of inside linebackers Stevens (6-4, 225 senior), Cameron Renick (6-0, 225) and Halbert Aguirre (6-1, 220 junior).
“Brayden Tyus (6-2, 190) is a linebacker, a sophomore who has a lot of upside,” Enright said. “He can run and tackle very well.
“Our secondary is young, but they have talent, with no experience, so they’re going to have to grow up quick.”
Included in that secondary are Elijah Tramil (5-8, 170 junior), Breydon LaFollette (5-10, 165 junior), Russell Peterson (6-2, 175 junior), Brayden Coffey (6-1, 175 senior) and Presley Newkirk (5-10, 175 junior). Duane Alexander (5-7, 160 senior) is a former Hawk who transferred back from Beech Grove after two years.
There’s promise on the offensive side as well.
“Javian Jones (6-3, 290 junior left tackle) is a big offensive lineman, and we have Jacob Roeder (5-8, 240 senior right guard). We have Mason Mills (6-2, 240 sophomore), who played as a freshman, who is now our starting center. Keegan Cox (6-0, 255 senior) will be starting at left guard. He’s very intelligent. Josh Cambron (6-2, 255 sophomore) will be the right tackle.”
“We want to establish the run game with our big offensive line and get back to our playmakers. Not a lot of experience, but a lot of talent.”
The multi-talented Stevens is one of two quarterbacks.
“With Aycen being a quarterback who has been in the system his entire life, he will see rotations. He will split time with a freshman, Bo Polston (6-1, 180). With Aycen, we’re having a senior guy, an elite-level guy, coming off a torn ACL that will limit his reps. Polston is going to play some. We like his coachability.”
Halbert Aguirre, a 6-1, 220 junior, is the fullback, with Jordan Cox (5-7, 170 senior) as a running back.
“KC Berry (5-11, 160 junior) moved from receiver to running back. Presley Newkirk is playing both sides. He’s a talented running back who will be starting in the secondary.”
Slotback Chris Richmond (5-8, 145 junior) will be joined by wide receivers Tequan Taylor (6-1, 170 senior), Desmond Coleman (5-11, 145 junior) and Fa’Rel Carter (5-11, 150 freshman).
The kicker will be Ashton Vogel (6-0, 150 sophomore).
The Hawks have several goals, beginning with the Mid-State Conference.
“The Mid-State is one of the top conferences in the state,” Enright noted. “Winning conference is a big deal; it’s our No. 1 goal.”