Story by Kris Millsfirstname.lastname@example.org
GREENFIELD — While making his usual drive to the high school one morning this summer, Greenfield-Central head football coach Adam Sherman noticed a group of defensive players on the practice field. However, there was no practice scheduled.
Learning a new “platoon” system, where players participate solely on offense or defense, Sherman witnessed a group of linebackers practicing “shooting the gaps.”
In his first season at the helm, Sherman is wasting little time implementing his own system, and his players have bought in.
“I’m not making decisions just based on wins and losses,” Sherman said. “This is where I want to stay. Every decision we make is for the future of the program. If you look at your numbers, kids will come out for a chance to play.
“In certain situations, it’s hard to want to play football with 46 kids on the roster and 17 of them get on the field. In my experience in football, it’s worked out pretty well.”
Sherman takes over a program that finished near .500 last season at 4-6 (2-5 Hoosier Heritage Conference) and is already making his presence felt. He said allowing players to only play one way — offense or defense — has allowed an added focus on certain skill traits and strengths. In addition, it has brought more athletes, who simply want playing time, out for the team.
In all, Sherman has 84 players on the roster this season including 29 seniors. There were just six seniors last season. And he hasn’t seen kids work on their own this much ever, even after nine years around the college game, he said.
“If there is player leadership, you can move mountains,” Sherman said. “Are we going to do that? I don’t know. I am really luck, though, way more than I thought when I came here.”
Returning with the most experience, statistically speaking, on offense for the Cougars is senior running back Michael Sosnowski, junior wide receiver Orlando Mojica and senior tight end Lee Dullaghan. Sosnowski returns at the team’s leading rusher after gaining 426 yards last season. He also scored four touchdowns.
Mojica adds speed on the outside and in the return game while Dullaghan (6-foot-4) will be a large target near the end zone. He scored three touchdowns in 2015 for Greenfield-Central, which averaged 235 yards and 20.5 points per game.
“We have been very blessed with a lot of great kids in this program,” Sherman said. “We are going to get the ball into our speeds hands and let the speed win. My whole job is to try to get the ball into people’s hands who need to touch it.
“I think it is going to be exciting.”
Despite the returning agility, Sherman and the Cougars must replace 2015 starting quarterback Jeremiah Fields, who threw for 812 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.
Competing for a chance to start is senior Spencer Hert and sophomore Grant Hinton.
Hert (6-foot-1, 200 pounds), a hard throwing pitcher on the baseball team, has the natural ability to lead and was the backup last season while Grant Hinton, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound sophomore, has ideal size and potential as well, Sherman said.
“He (Hert) has a really good arm and is smart and a passionate kid,” Sherman said. “He is always asking questions and wants to watch tape.
“You look and at him (Hinton) and say ‘wow, what a good looking kid.’”
Defensively for Greenfield-Central, which allowed 23.9 points per game in 2015, defensive back Bryce Ratliff will anchor the back line. He had success as a wide receiver last season, leading the team with 170 yards and three touchdowns. At 6-foot-1, his size and athleticism should wreak havoc for the Cougars.
Sherman also noted junior linebacker Andrew Leslie, who was pushing for a chance to start at quarterback, too.
“The defense is full of extremely hard workers,” Sherman said. “The one we implemented isn’t very easy. They work at it in the classroom and outside of practice.”
Sherman will get a big welcome to Hancock County in his first varsity contest next Friday, too. Set to travel to Eastern Hancock for the first meeting between the two teams in the last 30 years, Sherman said his Cougars will be up for the challenge.
“There are programs who do it the right way and then the other programs,” Sherman said. “And they (Eastern Hancock) do it the right way. We kind of want to immolate what they do. They play higher than Class 2A football. It is going to be a fun game, coach (Jim) O’Hara is a legend.
“We don’t really have a great feel of what they do.”
In addition to playing Eastern Hancock in place of Indianapolis Shortridge, a 70-0 win last season, Greenfield-Central will host Bloomington North Week 2 in place of Indianapolis Northwest, a 40-20 win last season.
The Cougars will also play county rivals Mt. Vernon on Sept. 2 and New Palestine on Sept. 23. Both games are on the road.
Sherman spent the last three seasons at Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio. A 2000 graduate of Lawrence North, Sherman was officially hired on March 7 by the Greenfield-Central Community School Corporation.
Sherman’s father has resided in Greenfield for nearly 20 years and his wife graduated from Roncalli.
A coach for 11 years, Sherman started as an offensive line coach at Perry Meridian High School in 2005. From there, he spent one season coaching in Florida (9-3 record) and coached at Warren Central and Marian University as an assistant.
Today, 7 p.m.
No meetings last 30 years
Friday, Aug. 26, 7:30 p.m.
Replaces Indianapolis Northwest on schedule
Friday, Sept. 2, 7:30 p.m.
Overtime last season
Friday, Sept. 9, 7:30 p.m.
One score game in 2015
Friday, Sept. 16, 7 p.m.
Three-game losing streak to Golden Bears
Friday, Sept. 23, 7:30 p.m.
Lost 21-19 in 2011, closest contest recently
Friday, Sept. 30, 7:30 p.m.
Edged Tigers in 2015 by a single point
Friday, Oct. 7, 7:30 p.m.
GC 0-2 against Delta last season
Friday, Oct. 14, 7:30 p.m.
Eight consecutive wins over New Castle