BY CHAD DARE
VEEDERSBURG, Ind. —
Winning eight games and finishing second in the Wabash River Conference standings was a good season a year ago for the Fountain Central football program.
But, it was not what the Mustangs were hoping for when the year started.
So that disappointment of seeing its three-year run as conference champions come to an end has been a motivating factor for the 2013 Fountain Central Mustangs.
“Losing to North Vermillion (25-21) last year has stuck Fountain Central Mustangs with me all offseason,’’ said Fountain Central senior Jared Fishero. “That’s pretty much all we thought about as we were getting ready for this year.
“I want us to get back to being the WRC champions and the sectional champions.’’
According to Fishero, the keys for Fountain Central to accomplishing those two goals are “execution, flying around and playing hard.’’
Second-year head coach Brian Moore, who has been a part of the Mustang program for the past five years, agreed completely with one of his senior leaders.
“The key this year is that our kids have to fly around and make plays,’’ Moore said. “That’s been the key to our success in winning three straight conference titles (2010-12) and advancing the state title game in 2010.
“We’ve never really been a blazing fast team, but we are quick and we fly around. You can only do what you can control. You can’t make yourself into a 4.6-second guy in the 40, but you can take what you have and play with every ounce of energy on every play.’’
And considering that Mustangs have a couple of big holes to fill, both offensive and defensively, intensity could made a big difference in their success.
Not only did Fountain Central graduate a four-year varsity performer in Michael Duane, but the Mustangs will also play this season without senior Jack Bolin.
“We lost a few good seniors and losing Michael, he was a very special player,’’ said Moore as Duane is playing this fall at Marian University in Indianapolis. “Last year, our No. 2 rusher was Jack Bolin, and he was going to be our hammer this year. But, he has an injury that didn’t happen with football, and he’s unable to play.
“We had to ask ourselves, ‘what are we going to do now?’”
The running back position is currently being filled by a committee of backs, including Fishero, Daniel Harrison and Alex Haddock. All three of them have varsity experience.
“Those guys are going to have to step up and play key roles,’’ said Moore, adding Colin Strange and Casey Walls into the running back equation. “We will still have to figure out exactly what those roles are going to be as the season goes along.’’
Fountain Central senior center Jacob Brown admits it’s been a “bummer” to not have one of their senior leaders on the field with them this season.
“We’re down without Jack, but he went all out on every play,’’ Brown said. “That’s how we need to play, on every play in every game, to honor him.
“We have to pick ourselves up as a team and keep going strong.’’
Quarterback Koby Pierce, who is about 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds this season, figures to pick up some of the offensive slack left by Duane and Bolin.
“He has a good arm with great touch,’’ Moore said. “He is getting better and better with his footwork, and Coach (Rick) Malone has helped him with his footwork.
“Koby can run or throw the ball, he is learning to run the offense entirely well.’’
But, the overwhelming strength of Mustang offensive attack figures to their line.
Fountain Central returns a pair of starters in Brown and Doug Wallace and senior Mitch McCollum will be back after missing his junior season with an injury.
“We’re huge,’’ said McCollum, the biggest block in the Fountain Central front wall. “I think we average about 6-2 and 240 pounds. We have more size than we had in the past.’’
And, it’s a line that actually have five starters and two very capable back-ups according to Moore.
“We have seven linemen that we are going to filter through there,’’ he said. “We know they can play and our line will be a definite strength.’’
McCollum added that depth will help the Mustangs wear down opponents going into the fourth quarters.
“We’re going to be able substitute and stay fresh,’’ he said. “That’s not something that most small-school football teams can do, and it should give us an advantage.’’
The loss of Duane and Bolin will also have an effect on Fountain Central’s defense, which does return seven starters. Harrison is now the only returning linebacker, but Fishero is moving up for the defensive backfield, while Trevor Loveall will anchor the defensive secondary from his safety position.
“We didn’t get as many interceptions last year as we should have, so we are going to fly around and make more plays,’’ Loveall said. “A year ago, we were kind of young and inexperienced. We feel like our defense is going to be really good this year. We have good solid guys upfront, we’ve got good linebackers and our defensive backs are pretty good.’’
There are also two big changes this season with the Fountain Central program. First, the Mustangs after back-to-back seasons with heart-breaking 1-point losses in the Class 2A sectional tournament, will be back in Class 1A this year.
“That’s not that big of a change,’’ Brown said. “We’ve been here before and we feel like we know what it takes to be successful.
“But, it’s a good feeling to be back in 1A with the rest of the Wabash River Conference teams.’’
The other change is the playing surface at Mustang Field as the school renovated it during the summer.
“Our field here at Fountain Central has needed an overhaul. We needed to get it re-crowned,’’ Moore said. “When we did it, we did some research and we decided to hire some guys to put in Bermuda. It a warm-season grass and it should last until the first hard frost. With the technology of today, it’s something you can do.
“It’s not something that you see a lot of in Central Indiana, but this field is by far the best it has ever been here and it’s as good of a high school field that I’ve ever been on.’’
Moore, who is also the school’s athletics director, pointed out that Fountain Central has also upgraded its baseball field and their buildings on campus.
“We have to thank our school board and our administration for allowing this to happen,’’ he said. “The kids are excited for all of these new facilities we have here at Fountain Central. They are taking a lot of pride in their school and it’s something I’m sure our community will take a lot of pride in when they see it.
“But ultimately, as a football coach, we will play anywhere.’’
Head Coach — Brian Moore
2012 record — 8-2
Date Opponent Time
Aug. 23 at Southmont 7 p.m.
Aug. 30 at Turkey Run * 7 p.m.
Sept. 6 Riverton Parke * 7 p.m.
Sept. 13 at Covington * 7 p.m.
Sept. 20 Attica * 7 p.m.
Sept. 27 Seeger * 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 4 at Benton Central 7 p.m.
Oct. 11 North Vermillion * 7 p.m.
Oct. 18 at Rockville * 7 p.m.
— All Times Eastern
* — Wabash River Conference Game