NEW MADISON – The Tri-Village Patriots are taking the next step in building their football program.
A program started last year that went 6-2 playing a junior varsity schedule now graduates to a full varsity schedule this year.
“Last year our guys improved immensely in one season in just their overall knowledge and understanding of the game,” veteran coach Jason Schondelmyer said.
The Patriots have a 27-man roster that includes seven seniors, 11 juniors, five sophomores and four freshmen.
The nice thing for the Patriots is that everyone is back, including some new faces.
Key returning players are senior quarterback Johnny Wilson and running back Jared Buckley, who generated much of the offense last year
Other key returning offensive players are sophomore running back Austin Bruner and junior Noah Burns. Senior Josh Wiford, who missed last year due to a broken collarbone, is very competitive and ready to go this year as well and will play split-end and defensive back.
Returning lineman are Dagen White, Nick Napier, Jackson Plush and Mason Sullenbarger.
“We are miles ahead of where we were last year with regard to our offensive and defensive line,” Schondelmyer said. “All these guys have really gotten it done in the off season, putting time in the weight room, and it’s shown so far in the preseason as their overall confidence has improved, and that comes from the work they have put in.”
New faces on the team will be senior Gavin Richards and Trace Couch, both athletic guys who should have an impact right away. Damien Edwards is a junior who has never played before, and he could see action on the line.
“We’ve done well in our seven-on-seven scrimmages, and we’re happy with our skill position play so far,” Schondelmyer said.
The Patriots also looked good in their first full contact scrimmage with Twin Valley South, who will be a future Cross County Conference opponent in 2017.
Tri-Village will play an independent schedule this year with opponents that geographically are outside of our area, and being unfamiliar with them will make it a tough to prepare … but the Patriots are excited about having a full varsity schedule this year.
There are a couple of teams that the Patriots will have some familiarity with and will provide a challenge. Jefferson, Preble Shawnee and Bradford, a future CCC team, are all within the 937 area code.
The good thing for the Patriots all the teams outside of this area will be home games with the exception of West-Del, Indiana.
“We are going into this season regardless of who our opponent is with the intention of preparing to compete and win each and every game,” Coach Schondelmyer said.
The Patriots’ style of play this year will expand off the success they had last year by utilizing their athletic ability in the spread offense.
“We believe in the philosophy of getting our speed out in space and having offensive lineman that can move and run, getting into the second and third level to help us spring big plays,” Schondelmyer said.
“We are going to be a fast-paced team a lot like what you would see in the Oregon Ducks,” Schondelmyer added.
“Defensively we want to fly to the football and play defense by committee … each guy has their own specific responsibility but tackling will be the key,” Schondelmyer said. “We have the speed to keep up with the skill kids, but we need to be tough on the interior.”
It’s an exciting time at Tri-Village there has been a lot of hard work put in by many people to bring football to the next level, and it’s finally arrived.
New bleachers have been installed on the home side with a state of the art press box and sound system. The facility building that adorns the entrance houses a large weight room, team rooms, officials room, showers, storage and concession stand.
“It’s a beautiful place, and that’s a credit to the administration, a credit to the people in the school district,” Schondelmyer said. “They wanted a program, a quality program, and they produced the resources to get it done. Right now in my opinion, as far as division VII schools go, this is one of the greatest facilities around for a small school.”
“Our kids realize that a lot of sacrifices have been made for them to get this program going, and now they have to be willing to lay it on the line to win games and pack those new bleachers, and that is what it’s all about,” Schondelmyer concluded.
It’s a great time to be a Tri-Village Patriot off the heels of 2015 boys basketball state title and now alum Clayton Murphy’s 800 meter bronze medal performance in the Rio Olympics.
Those results and expectations will now be passed on to the football program and the journey starts at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 26 when the Patriots play their first varsity football game ever, hosting the Jefferson Broncos.