CAYUGA, Ind. — A disheartening 13 years might have seemed like an eternity to the faithful fans of the North Vermillion Falcons. The football program went nearly a decade and a half without a winning season until coach Brian Crabtree took over in 2012.
The 180-degree shift has helped the Falcons gain confidence and has built a foundation for future teams. But the future of the program might feel as though it has its hands full in attempting to carry out the Falcons’ newfound winning tradition.
Class A No. 2 North Vermillion defeated Seeger 51-6 on Friday to complete the program’s second consecutive undefeated regular season and second straight Wabash River Conference title. It was also the team’s 19th straight regular season win.
“I think that anytime you have success it kind of builds momentum,” Crabtree said. “You can use it to continue to elevate the program. I think the big part of carrying on tradition is that our guys that are underclassmen continue to pick up the slack from the senior class as it moves on. We’ve had some great senior leadership. You don’t have the success by accident. You have great kids that get you there.”
The Falcons have defeated all 19 opponents by an average of 51.3-9.8. But through it all, they have remained humble and focused.
“Freshmen and sophomore years were tough,” North Vermillion senior quarterback Brayden Woodard said. “We’ve been on both sides of the totem pole. That’s why we’re level headed.”
Only seven seniors are listed on the roster, but they remember all-too well the seasons that came prior to the success. There’s no doubt they enjoy being on the winning side of the scoreboard, but they are staying hungry and focused with larger goals in mind.
They credit years of hard work and a solid youth program for helping build the foundation for success.
“Our youth program is great,” Woodard said. “We’re the first group to go through it. It just shows that the youth program was great in teaching us through high school.”
Aside from last week’s 42-35 win over Fountain Central, the Falcons’ first team defense has given up only seven points, and showed its dominance once again when it held a 48-0 advantage over Seeger at halftime of Friday’s game.
On North Vermillion’s first offensive play, Jacob Earl ran 60 yards for his first of four touchdowns. His second came on the Falcons’ next possession on a 43-yard run. Woodard followed it up with a 50-yard touchdown run before connecting on back-to-back possessions with Braedon Hollowell for a pair of scores.
By halftime, Earl had run for 201 yards on nine carries. Woodard threw for 82 yards, passing the 1,000-yard mark for the season, and the Patriots were held to 60 yards of total offense.
North Vermillion senior Ethan Kunkle led the Falcons’ defense with 7.5 tackles while Lucas Clark had 4.5, both in limited playing time.
“All the preparation we have done has come to this,” Kunkle said. “It feels great. It feels great just to have everybody come together and do our jobs and win.”
The dominant win marked the sixth shutout this season by North Vermillion’s first team defense, and served as one final tune-up before next week’s first round sectional game against Rockville.
North Vermillion defeated Rockville 39-0 on October 4, but is anticipating a much different game next Friday.
First, they will briefly celebrate and reflect on all they have accomplished during the last two seasons.
“I’ll always remember this for the rest of my life,” Kunkle said. “It will never be forgotten. You’ll always remember these memories.”
Kickoff for Friday’s first round sectional game in Cayuga is scheduled for 7 p.m. Eastern.
Wabash River Conference All times Eastern Conf. Overall Team W L W L North Vermillion 7 0 9 0 Fountain Central 6 1 8 1 Rockville 5 2 6 3 Attica 4 3 6 3 Seeger 3 4 3 6 Covington 2 5 2 7 Turkey Run 1 6 1 8 Riverton Parke 0 7 1 8 Friday, Oct. 18 results Covington 48, Riverton Parke 12 Fountain Central 55, Rockville 27 North Vermillion 51, Seeger 6 Attica 61, Turkey Run 8 Friday, Oct. 25 games Sectional 42: Seeger at Pioneer, 7 p.m. Sectional 47: Covington at Attica, 7 p.m. Sectional 47: Rockville at North Vermillion, 7 p.m. Sectional 47: Riverton Parke at Fountain Central, 7 p.m. Sectional 47: North Central (Farmersburg) at Turkey Run, 7 p.m.