Senior staff writer
Quarterbacks, experienced or not, will play key roles for Southside high school football teams when the season begins Aug. 17. The quarterbacks range in experience from Southport’s Eddie Schott, Franklin Central’s Dylan Bishop, Center Grove’s wing-T guide Jackson Moore and Beech Grove’s Jordan Reel to first-time starters Alex Volk at Roncalli and Oliver Rau at Greenwood. The spot is unsettled at Perry Meridian, Manual and Lutheran.
Schott returns after putting up glossy stats as a junior last year: 1,921 yards passing, 64.2 completion percentage, 17 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. And he has all his receivers back. The Cardinals were 5-5 last season but are confident of improvement. “I’m very comfortable with what we have installed (offense) and who I throw to or give the ball to,” said Schott, whose idol is former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. “Our goal on offense is to put up as many points as we can; I’m anticipating a lot of big plays.”
He reflected that he made big improvements last year in his mobility. He said he believes his arm is stronger this year, and his footwork and accuracy has improved. The line in front of him is somewhat inexperienced, but he is confident they will pick up the varsity game speed and situations quickly.
“My mental process is the same in the classroom or on the field,” said Schott, who likes math and science classes. “I like to know what’s going on – all the details.” Southport coach Brandon Winters considers Schott “the exact prototype of what you are looking for in a quarterback. He’s very smart, tough, a great leader and there’s not a throw he cannot make.”
All unheralded Bishop did last year as a junior was lead Franklin Central to the Conference Indiana championship and an impressive 8-3 record. The Flashes compete in the Hoosier Crossroads Conference for the first time this season.
Bishop threw for 23 touchdowns, completing 127-of-199 passes (63.8 percent), for 1,851 yards. It’s kind of crazy because my leadership role has changed since I was a sophomore,” Bishop said. “I have to set the example for all my teammates.”
After losing two of three primary receivers to graduation, Bishop expects a strong passing game with the return of key receivers Malaki Parks and Johnny Mickle plus promising Ty Robinson. “Hopefully the receivers will do as much or more than last year,” Bishop said. “I don’t see any letdown. We will be playing against greater competition, and we’re going into every game with the attitude that we are going to win.”
Bishop and the Flashes are enthused about playing on synthetic turf at Ray Skillman Stadium in their home opener Aug. 24 against rival Roncalli.
At Center Grove, Moore is coming off a junior season with 1,004 yards passing, 56.4 percent, seven touchdowns but eight interceptions. Moore returns in his best physical shape and with experience in running the Trojans’ offense. With sophomore Carson Steele, who gained 1,703 yards and scored 20 touchdowns, Bishop and the Trojans can grind it out and use the pass to keep defenses on their heels. Roncalli’s Volk and Greenwood’s Rau, a shortstop on the baseball team, step in to succeed Connor Gore (73.6 completion percentage) and Seth Gallman (1,728 yards, 17 TDs), respectively.
Volk threw only 10 passes last season on a Rebels team that developed a passing attack under first-year coach Scott Marsh. “He has gone from a kid trying to figure it out to a quarterback who feels empowered,” Marsh said. “He’s smart enough to check off and make the smart play and get the ball to guys who can make good stuff happen.”
Volk also has the luxury of having Elijah Mahan (6.2 yards per carry) to establish Roncalli’s patented running game. Rau only attempted one pass but ran for 205 yards as a running back and has coach Mike Campbell’s confidence. “Oliver has a good arm and we have a nice set of receivers; if we need to throw it, we will,” Campbell said. “He’s getting a grasp of our offense.”
Season openers find Roncalli at Southport, Lutheran at Beech Grove, Warren Central at Center Grove, Bloomington North at Greenwood, Franklin Central at Decatur Central, Perry Meridian at Lawrence North, Manual at Heritage Christian