Irish to battle the Bulldogs at Brownsburg

Game will be won in the trenches, Coach Peebles says

Every+senior+on+the+football+team+has+a+sign+on+the+Hill.+The+team+will+travel+to+Brownsburg+for+a+game+on+Aug.+27.+

Macy Llewellyn

Every senior on the football team has a sign on the Hill. The team will travel to Brownsburg for a game on Aug. 27.

Will Mayer, Sports Editor

The defending State champion varsity football team opened the season on Aug. 20 with a 14-0 win over Westfield. Once the clock hit zero, they immediately shifted their focus to the powerhouse of Brownsburg. The last matchup between the two resulted in a 39-24 victory for the Bulldogs back in 2018. On Aug. 27, the Irish plan to reverse what happened in the previous meeting.

Football Head Coach Mr. Bill Peebles ‘88 shared a few thoughts going into this game.

Peebles, recapping the Westfield game, said, “Number 1 is obviously (a) great defensive effort. Our guys played unbelievably well. They shut out a very good team in Westfield. It’s a big accomplishment.

“Offensively I think we did a good job. I think we’re still trying to establish an identity of who we are and I think that might take us a few weeks with all the new faces playing a different position. But overall, (it was) a very good win against a very good opponent and we need to have a repeat performance this week against an equally good opponent.”

Westfield came into the season as the second-ranked team in 6A according to MaxPreps. Brownsburg is listed at the fifth spot. The Irish are ranked second in the state and are at the top of the 5A poll.

Peebles said, “I think we just need to be a little more consistent. Obviously we move the ball. We had the ball four times in the red zone in the first half (at Westfield) and we didn’t score. Some of them were mistakes and some of them were good plays by Westfield. We were on the one-yard line and they caught us with a blitz, which was a really good play call on their part and they got us. Then the following play we had a sack, which was as much us as it was them. So we have to eliminate mistakes in the red zone.

“That’s kind of where our identity becomes a really big deal because with our identity in the red zone, we know what to hang our hat on. And right now we’re trying to figure out what we hang our hat on. The only way we can figure that out is when we start making plays on a consistent basis well, we can hang our hat on that. We just don’t have that right now.”

Offense is where it should be

The score in the season opener against Westfield does not reflect how high-powered the Irish offense is, according to Peebles. The Irish had 368 total yards against Westfield compared to a 430-yard game against the Shamrocks in the previous year. The Irish are right where they need to be, according to Peebles. “Making plays on a consistent basis,” as the coach termed it, offensively will be the turning point for the team.

The defense, on the other hand, has been the part of the team doing what the coach called “making plays on a consistent basis.” The Irish came up with four interceptions against the Shamrocks, two of them by senior captain and safety Bryce Llewellyn. They will be tested against the bigger, faster and more physical offensive front of Brownsburg. Peebles said, “They are a little better up front. They have a very big line that dominated Ben Davis on both sides of the ball. Their offensive line is bigger and more physical than Westfield. I do think the strength of our defense is up front but this is going to be one of those games on both sides of the ball where two really good offensive and defensive fronts are going at each other.

“So what’s going to be a deciding factor is how the matchups everywhere else are going to fall out. I think this will be a challenging week for us because they are probably a little faster than we are across the board. Size wise, they’re a big team. They are as big as we are. They don’t throw the ball a lot but what they do, they do very well.

“The trenches are where this game is going to be won or lost.”

Sophomore quarterback shines

Peebles was satisfied with sophomore quarterback Danny O’Neil’s first varsity performance last Friday. O’Neil went 22 for 32 with a passing touchdown and eight yards with a rushing touchdown. Peebles said, “I think it was a good first performance. I think that each week we’re looking for small amounts of growth in different areas and we want him to get better each week.

“I also think that every quarterback needs to have better management of the game. There were a few situations where we were down to the end of the 24-second play clock. We had two delay of game penalties. Sometimes that’s me and sometimes it’s the quarterback. We just have to make sure we are more aware of our internal clock. So little things like that are things he will get better at with experience as the season progresses.”

Despite the big first win, the Irish did suffer two losses with injuries from seniors Gavin Crooke (linebacker) and Sam Neale (offensive guard). Peebles said, “Gavin dislocated his kneecap. He’s looking at a four- to six-week recovery and hopefully we can get him back out there. Sam Neale has a sprained AC joint in his shoulder. We’re also hoping to get him back in a couple weeks. Gabe Plummer is stepping in on the offensive line for Sam and Blake Williams, who came into the game for Gavin, will be starting for us at outside linebacker.”

Peebles said in a concluding statement, “We had great support from the fans last week. We had a great crowd and a great atmosphere. We are actually allowed to come to the games now, so we need that energy every single week.”