Tag Archives: college football

Baddude prepares to roll on to Wheaton

Story by J.D. McKay

This weekend, I made my official football visit at Wheaton College. It was one of the best weekends I can remember, including the weekend of the Jeffersonville sectional championship game. 

I started looking at colleges my freshman year. We would visit two or three each spring break. I was looking for a Christian school, with great academics, chapel, and hopefully a football team. 

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Last Spring Break I visited Wheaton for the first time. I talked to since retired head coach Mike Swider and was introduced to my recruiting coach and Wheaton’s Defensive Coordinator, CJ Nightingale. Since then, I have been up to campus for football junior day over the summer, a football game day visit against Washington University (Wheaton won 52-13 after scoring 35 points in the first quarter), and then a ROTC scholarship interview before this weekend. 

On the way up Thursday afternoon, I checked the ROTC scholarship web page and saw I received the four-year scholarship to Wheaton College. That means 100 percent full tuition, saving my family and me over 40,000 dollars a year. It was the only school that I received the four-year scholarship to. As I heard Coach Swider say over 20 times in the three times I heard him speak, “Thank You, Jesus.” 

mom dad and meThen, I got onto campus and got to talk to a few other coaches and share the good news with Coach Nightingale. He was genuinely about as excited for me receiving the scholarship as my parents and grandparents are. After listening to interim head coach Jesse Scott talk about Wheaton’s program philosophy, I was introduced to my roommates for the weekend. We went to bed early because there was a 6 a.m. workout the following day. 

We woke up at 5:20 a.m. for the optional workout. After the workout, I went to breakfast, a class, and chapel. Following chapel, I had my meeting with Coach Scott. During that meeting, he made an official offer to be on the team. I could have signed it in the meeting room, but he suggested we wait at least a day and take it home. That meant that pretty much everything I wanted and more had worked out. It was a school with chapel, a Christian school, and a chance to play football. Plus, I had a way to pay for it. 

After that meeting, I went to another class and had two other meetings with coaches before working out with the players. Then, we ate dinner and went up to the room for a few minutes. The team building activity for that Friday night was dodgeball. It was pretty crazy. We went to Los Burritos Tapatios. Finally, we headed back to play shirtless poker. 

Throughout the day, I saw what I had heard every coach I talked to say: The reason you go to Wheaton is not for the facilities (which are good), the food (which is also good), or the academics (which are great), you go for the people. The guys I lifted with, hung out with, and stayed with were all great guys who were pushing each other to the cross. That was exactly what I wanted, so at about 2 a.m. in Traber room 609, I signed the sheet and Little Brass Bell incoming
decided I will continue my academic career and play football at Wheaton for the next four years. 

I am extremely excited to be a Wheaton Thunder for the next four years. I am looking forward to playing for Coach Nightingale, who ran the best defense statistically at any level in college football this year. I am also excited to hang out with Christian guys all the time. But, I am looking forward to playing for the Little Brass Bell with North Central, conference championships and hopefully, national championships. Let’s Roll.

 

My take on sports over Christmas break

Photo by Brock Kennedy

Story by J.D. McKay

Christmas break has the best sports action of any break, from high school all the way up to the pros. I was also able to get to a wrestling meet, a swim meet, two boys’ basketball games, and two girls’ basketball games. So I’ll give my take from each sport as well as some college and pro sports. 

Swim– Our boys’ and girls swim teams are the best in our area, no question. But things

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Senior Gabe Anderson takes a breath while swimming freestyle against Jeff on Dec. 19. Photo by Brock Kennedy.

get much tougher as we get into the Indianapolis area. Both teams dominated Jeff, the second best team in the area the Thursday before break. Then, two days later, we
performed pretty well again but not better than Brownsburg, an Indianapolis school. However, we should dominate sectionals again before scoring a few points and hopefully getting a couple of athletes on the all-state wall. 

Wrestling-I am going to start this off by saying I do not know much about wrestling.

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Senior Jonathan Kervin prepares to start the next period against Bloomington South on Dec. 17. Photo by Brock Kennedy.

However, I went to the New Albany meet because it was Senior Night and to support my football teammate senior Sean Burk. We were much better than New Albany. They did not even have a wrestler for several weight classes, one of which was Burk’s. I could tell that we had some extremely talented wrestlers in senior Jonathan Kervin, junior Gavinn Alstott, and sophomore J Conway. They all three have a chance to win state and should definitely be all-state; that will be back-to-back all-state seasons for Alstott and Kervin. It is also worth noting that Alstott’s win against New Albany was his 100th as a Highlander. 

Boys’ basketball– The boys’ are better than people were expecting. In fact, they have

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Senior Ben Purvis shoots a three over New Albany on Dec. 13. Photo by Brock Kennedy.

been one of the most underrated teams in the state. They are not as good as Silver Creek, and have a tough matchup against the Dragons in February, but they proved in the game against Bloomington South on Dec. 21 that they can play with some of the best teams in the state. Most people were expecting a 20-point victory for Bloomington South, but after four quarters, the score was tied. Bloomington South eventually won on a buzzer beater. The officials cannot be blamed for the outcome of a game but I really think it is worth mentioning that the officiating was terrible. That game proved that we can play with the best teams. If junior Jake Heidbreder gets rolling, the seniors lead the team through four quarters, and the underclassmen can step-up, we are very dangerous. 

Girls’ basketball– I have a very unusual view on the girls’ basketball team because I

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Sophomore Keegan Kaiser communicates with her teammates against Austin on Jan. 4. Photo by Brock Kennedy.


practice with them several times a week. They are very young and expectations were not very high for them. But, throughout break, they have improved greatly. They have played pretty well at times. But their main problem is that they do not hit shots for about five minutes and dig themselves a hole. If they could be a little more consistent, they could very easily be .500 on the year. The next three years should be good, though, behind junior Grace Suer, who is injured this season and a major loss, sophomore Keegan Kaiser and freshman Mandy Hess. 

 

Now to pro and college sports. I said the Titans would win in the week leading up to the Patriots Titans game. Then it happened. I think it ended the Patriots dynasty because for the first time in 10 years they will not be in the AFC Championship game, and, unless the Patriots get Rob Gronkowski to unretire or add some significant talent, they will not be back next year. They might not even win their division because the Bills look like a very talented and young team. On another note, the Titans will beat the Ravens this week. 

I also decided over Break that Bowl season in the best season. On New Year’s Day, I watched close football games for almost 12 straight hours. If that is not the best day possible, I do not know what is. Anyway, LSU is ridiculous. They thumped Oklahoma in the playoff which I expected. Their QB, Joe Burrow, went off, setting several College Football Playoff records. The second game was closer. Clemson won on a TD late in the fourth quarter and then a pick to seal it with under a minute left in Ohio State’s endzone. The championship is Monday and even though I am rooting for Clemson, I am taking LSU in a closed game. 

My other take from college football is that the SEC is the best conference. The SEC was 7-2 in bowl games and 7 SEC teams on LSU’s schedule played LSU closer than the best team in the Big 12, Oklahoma. It would not be a tough to argue looking back that Florida, Georgia, and maybe even Alabama should have been in over Oklahoma. I would go as far to say that a two loss SEC team should be in over a 1 loss team from any of the other Power 5 conferences. 

My biggest take from break is that officiating is becoming a huge issue. Several of the meaningful close games over break had a significant seemingly bad call as a talking point following it. Again, the Saints got the short end of the stick with playoff officiating, which should be talked for a while this off season. The biggest game that officiating was talked about was the Ohio State-Clemson game. I believe both questionable calls were correct, but in a game that close any calls that could be debated will be viewed as wrong by the losing team’s fans. I also say that you cannot blame a loss on the officials, which is true for the Ohio State game as well. 

My final take is on the NFL overtime rule. It is ridiculous. No other sport do you see a team score and their opponent not get a chance to match, except for some reason, the NFL. Both teams should get the ball at least once. The Saints lost in overtime because the Vikings won the coin toss and scored to start the extra period. I do not get why the NFL would want it’s most popular and best players to never see the field and lose. I have been saying this since Super Bowl LI in 2017, where the Patriots Tom Brady scored to start overtime without the Falcons Matt Ryan ever seeing the field in overtime.

 

Baddude reflects on football career before college

Photo by Brock Kennedy

Story by J.D. McKay

My football career in southern Indiana is over. My last season was exciting. We won sectionals. We also beat New Albany, Jeff, and Providence. It is crazy that it is over. 

I started playing football when I was three years old. I would run routes with my dad, and if I could not get anyone to play with me, I would throw the football up to myself as Peyton Manning and run under it as Dallas Clark. I also would play football in my living room. Astonishingly, I have no scars on my head or body from running into furniture, the fireplace, or mantle during these games. However, I did lose my second tooth playing football with my dad. 

Fast forward to when I was seven, and I played flag football for the first time. Since then, I have not missed a year of football. After one year of flag, I played tackle for the first time. My dad was always one of my coaches. I played almost every skill position on offense in Little League. However, I spent most of my time at QB. One of my funniest memories from Little League was my center, senior linebacker and center Adam Hynes, wearing a cup when I was under center. Another good memory came from fourth grade. My team, the Bengals, beat the undefeated Colts in the Super Bowl, winning my only little league championship. I still have that trophy. 

In fifth grade, my dad started coaching at Highland Hills. He suggested to head FC coach Brian Glesing that he have some actual ball boys instead of injured players having the balls ready during the game. So, starting in fifth grade, I have been on the sideline at all but about two Friday night games, except for my freshman year. 

One of the most memorable games came from fifth grade at Jennings County. It rained, snowed and sleeted like crazy that game. The weird thing was, the whole day was warm, so most people were unprepared for the cold, including several coaches, who wore shorts the whole game. 

Seventh grade was my worst season by record. However, the next year coach Tom Hodge became head coach and we were 7-1. The QB-to-TE connection senior Trace Willman and I had that year was like Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. I caught a ball from him one handed, and, of course, tripped as I turned upfield. He also delivered a perfect pass that I did not trip on and took 40 yards for the game tying touchdown against River Valley. The next play, D-1 senior kicker Cole Hussung took in the two-point conversion for the win. That was the last TD I scored until this year. 

My freshman year, I saw a potential opening on varsity the following year and moved to guard as well as playing linebacker. The paid off the next season when I started as guard from Week 4 on. 

Week 3 of that year was against Madison. It was just after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, so the remains of it were on their way up. It hit us during the game and was the coldest, wettest, nastiest game I have ever played in. 

Unfortunately, the injury bug hit us that game but it opened up a varsity spot for me. Eventually, we pounded the ball against New Albany for two straight games and won the Anchor and the first round of sectionals. That team was very good, but unfortunately, we lost to Columbus East, who was on their way to a state championship. I like to say that we were their closest game, though, only losing to them by 30. 

Last year, I was hit with my first injury in football. I was out from the fifth play of the first game to Week 4. Unfortunately, we were 5-5 last season. I got to play with the best player I have played with so far in Tyler Edwards. He was excellent at hitting creases at running back and reading plays as an outside linebacker.

I also played LB with Levi Hamby. He started playing his sophomore year after going to Christian Academy. He showed underclassmen what great work ethic was. He had to work very hard to even have a chance at playing varsity after starting late. But, he put in work in the weight room and on the field, eventually leading the team in tackles. 

This season was my favorite season of football so far, though. I am sure everyone reading this is shocked by that. I was a captain along with senior Calvin Brown. We won sectionals for the first time in 10 years, completed the sweep (beat New Albany, Jeff, and Providence every year for four years), and finished 9-3. In Week 3 against Vincennes Lincoln, we had six picks. I had one, and Willman took one for six with a cast on his left hand. The next week, we tied the record for the biggest margin of victory against the Dogs, beating them 50-14. We started down 0-14 that game but scored 50 unanswered. The following week, we beat Jeff in the National Guard jerseys. I think I gained a lot of confidence that game that carried through the rest of the season. 

The first round of sectionals was another close, physical battle with Bedford (check out my column on the BNL FC rivalry https://fchsbagpiper.wordpress.com/2019/11/06/bedford-football-rivalry-has-grown-recently/). Then, the next week, we won sectionals. I had my first TD since eighth grade after the Jeff running back fumbled the pitch and after trying to grab it, knocked it into the ground and into my hands. That play has been my favorite individual moment of playing football. Our defense played lights out against Jeff and gave up 0 defensive points. Last Friday was my last high school game. We were up 14-13 at half but stalled in the second half, eventually losing 40-14. I had a pick on the second play of the half, but it did not matter. 

Next year, I am hoping to play football at Wheaton College in Illinois, with a bunch of dudes who love Jesus, as well as a coach who loves Jesus and also has a win percentage over .800 and is ranked third in Division 3 currently.

 

Five things to do or watch over Fall Break

Photo by Kate Zuverink

Story by J.D. McKay

Fall break is finally here, and as is customary, I will be writing my column telling all of my readers what I will be watching and what they should be watching too. Some of them will be local high school sports. Others will be on TV. But, regardless, they will be events I will be watching and that I expect to be interesting. 

  1. Football vs Bedford Oct. 11

This is Senior Night and a game that is starting to become a rivalry game. It is usually very close and often has a few side stories that go along with it (just ask head coach James Bragg). However, it always makes for interesting football and typically keeps fans on the edge of their seats during a close game. Plus, it is Senior Night, so come support some seniors. 

  1. Volleyball vs Jeff Oct. 3

If I am going to write this honestly — I cannot say that volleyball has had a terrific year. However, they are very young this year. They have also shown a lot of potential during most matches. They led at times and played very well against Providence, a top 25 team in the nation. If they can play like that again, a home game against Jeff should be our first big rivalry win of the season. 

  1. Girls’ soccer sectionals Oct. 8, 10, 12

This girls’ soccer team is very talented. Earlier this year, they won the Hoosier Cup tournament. They have also already defeated New Albany and Providence, so their talent is clearly showing itself on the field. Girls’ soccer sectionals have almost become a tradition at FC, and winning this year would give the seniors their fourth straight sectional championship.

  1. Virginia versus Notre Dame football Sept. 28

Here is the first non-local sporting event. However, I expect there are plenty of Notre Dame fans reading this because Notre Dame fans are everywhere. Notre Dame is very good and played one of the best teams in the country, Georgia, to a six-point loss. Virginia is ranked 18, so I expect the Irish to finally get a top 25 victory this week. 

  1. Colts versus Chiefs Oct. 6

This should be a very good football game. The Colts have been one of the best teams in the NFL, even without Andrew Luck. The Chiefs also have Patrick Mahomes, potential the best QB in the NFL. If the Colts defense shows out, they should get a tough win on the road. The Colts will definitely be looking to get their hands on the Chiefs again after being knocked out of the playoffs by them last year.

Sports unite America after biggest tragedies

By J.D. McKay

Eighteen years ago today, America was physically hit as hard as when the British burned down Washington, including the White House in 1814. America was very different at that point in time, of course. America was missing something that I believe Americans associate with our country, sports. 

It is early to say, but probably the biggest tragedy of my age group’s lifetime will be 9/11. Sports were also affected. There was not another sports game until Sept. 16. But 10 days after 9/11, the Mets Mike Piazza hit one of the most memorable home runs in baseball history. The game was the first pro-baseball game played in New York after the attacks. The Mets were down 2-1 in the eighth inning, but Piazza hit a two-run home run, putting the Mets ahead 3-2. The American flags that were already around the stadium started fluttering. Mets fans erupted. It gave the country and New Yorkers a chance to cheer about something after such a tragic time.  

However, that season was a good year to be a fan of the other New York team, the Yankees. In game three of the World Series, the Yankees were hosting the Diamondbacks at Yankee Stadium. President George W. Bush was scheduled to throw out the first pitch. The game was sold out. Bush knew he needed to look good on the mound, but the pressure only rose when Derek Jeter warned him not to bounce it. When Bush stepped out of the dugout, U.S.A. chants echoed around the stadium. He threw in a beautiful pitch, and the handheld flags waved around the stadium. His pitch was a great moment for New Yorkers, showing that America was too tough to let terrorists win. 

But 9/11 is not the only moment where Americans united over sports. In 2005, New Orleans was hit by Hurricane Katrina. The New Orleans Saints were in a time of turmoil. They were terrible, considering relocating, and without a true quarterback. Now we know the Saints did not move. They found the answer to the other two questions in one man, Drew Brees. Brees did not only led the Saints back to the playoffs, but he also helped rebuild the city. Specifically, his Brees Dream Foundation helped rebuild schools, parks, and athletic facilities. The Saints did not play a game in New Orleans until 2006. But in their first game back, they had one moment that has been memorialized. Steve Gleason blocked a punt early in the game that was returned for a touchdown. The announcers were silent for almost a minute as the stadium erupted, and the Saints players pointed back at the fans, as if telling them that was for them. Gleason diving to block the ball will forever be outside of the Super Dome, and the title on the pedestal could not be any better: Rebirth. 

Sports have united America during other tragedies. The Astros won the World Series just two months after Hurricane Harvey hit in 2017. All of Boston sports rallied after the Boston Bombing. That was best seen at the Boston Bruins game on April 17, 2013. The fans took over singing the National Anthem from Renee Rancourt, who was brought in to sing that night. 

Terrorist attacks try to bring America down. However, we typically come back stronger. Sports are not always the events that bring America together, but they help create strength and toughness in a city and a country that desperately need it.