GREENFIELD — Greenfield-Central head football coach Adam Sherman still feels like he’s just getting started. For a team that lost 26 seniors from 2016, has moved up to Class 5A, and will be playing on a brand new field turf playing surface, it’s hard to blame him.
“It’s still new to me here,” said Sherman, who is entering his second season. “I got here in March of last season, so I didn’t get to implement my whole offseason program, and we’re only just now getting into a routine here. On the flip side, I’m still having loads of fun because every day is still a new experience.”
With 26 seniors forming a deep roster, Sherman was able to install a system where each player solely played offense or defense last year. In 2017, that will change.
“We’ve changed some of our philosophical views on that,” Sherman said. “We wanted to try to get as many of those kids involved as possible, but some guys have stepped up to the point where we felt they could make an impact on both sides of the ball.”
Three of those players who will be playing on both sides of the line this year: Braden Brown will be playing defensive end and running back; Chase Ratliff will be playing wide receiver and free safety; and Mitchell Rosemeyer will be playing center and nose tackle.
Returning quarterback Andrew Leslie will also be playing both ways in 2017, as he will line up at middle linebacker on defense. Despite being the starter for most of last season, Sherman is not committing to Leslie taking all the snaps at quarterback this season.
“Along with Leslie, we’ve got two other guys who can come in and give some different looks,” Sherman said. “Orlando Mojica has been a great receiver, but we are working in some plays for him at quarterback, and Jaden Brown is kind of the bridge between Leslie and Mojica in terms of style of play.”
Last season, an impressive offensive line with four seniors paved the way for two senior running backs to each have 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Zach Kennedy will line up at left guard as the only returning starter up front.
Candidates to fill in the offensive line are sophomore Gavin Rose at left tackle, Ethan Stump at right tackle and Tate Helm at right guard.
“I hope to have the offensive line be a strength of our team every year going forward since that foundation was provided last year,” Sherman said. “And we’ve had a lot of young guys step up to the point where it’s no guarantee who will start on opening night.”
On the defensive side of the ball, the Cougars hope some organizational overhauls improve their performance.
“We set six school records on offense last year, so we didn’t feel the need to drastically change anything there,” Sherman said. “But on defense we’ve definitely simplified the communication between the coaching staff and the players that will lead to more understanding during the games.”
Perhaps the biggest change for the Cougars will not be realized until sectional time. With a growing enrollment, Greenfield-Central was placed in 5A for the 2017 and 2018 tournaments, but that hasn’t affected how Sherman has approached building his program.
“To me, that doesn’t change anything about what we need to do on a day-to- day basis,” Sherman stated. “Honestly, to me all it means is that it will be that much more fun when we are succeeding at the 5A level.”
To set the foundation for excelling at that level, Sherman has worked hand-in-hand with the Greenfield Youth Football League to align the program’s vision from prekindergarten all the way to 12th grade.
“Football is thriving in Greenfield. Last Saturday there were nearly 500 people out at the youth football fields,” Sherman beamed. “Chad Butler and Jim Cobb have been the commissioners of the youth league since I’ve been here and both guys have built a level of commitment to Greenfield football that I haven’t seen before.”