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Column: Royals plan to keep up momentum


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I’d like to take this opportunity to announce that I will not be leaving the newspaper business to join WTHR-13 in Indianapolis.

Instead, on Friday, I’ll be doing what I’ve been doing most fall Friday evenings the last several years: covering high school football for the local paper.

Inside today’s edition of the Daily Reporter, you hopefully found our 2014 Hancock County Football Preview.  It’s full of good, informative stuff, notwithstanding my sure-to-be-wrong predictions.

There are a few additional things, though, that didn’t make it into the preview that are worth keeping an eye on as we kick off the prep gridiron campaign:

Eastern Hancock is still buzzing

The Royals captured attention statewide last season with their  high-scoring offense and 14-0 run to the Class A State Finals.

Even with the loss of head coach Pat Echeverria (to Zionsville) and star running back Spencer Gilbert (to Ball State), Eastern Hancock promises to be a legitimate contender once again.

They’ve got the talent to make up for Gilbert’s departure and, just as importantly, the new head coach knows something about winning.

Jim O’Hara guided Indianapolis Cathedral to a state title in 2006. His presence in Charlottesville has been lauded by the natives. I haven’t had the pleasure to meet the man in person, yet. We’ve only spoken by phone. But one Eastern Hancock parent told me the other day that O’Hara “operates on a whole other level” in terms of professionalism and running a program.

To help keep the mojo from 2013 going, the Royals are rolling around 400 extra seats into the football stadium Friday via bleachers from the baseball and softball fields. Eastern Hancock used those same extra bleachers as part of its semistate planning last year, when cars were seemingly parked all the way to I-70 for the Royals’ semistate win over Linton-Stockton.

A group of EH parents also have fireworks and a D.J. planned for this year’s games, along with other new activities.

It should make for good television Friday as the Royals host Northeastern, which lost to EH 57-36 in the 2013 sectional championship.

That’s right, television

NineStar Connect, which provides TV service to customers in Hancock, Hamilton, Henry and Madison counties, will broadcast a local football game each week this year, beginning with Northeastern’s trip to Eastern Hancock on Friday.

The rest of the broadcast schedule:

Aug. 22 – Hagerstown at Knightstown

Sept. 5 – Greenfield-Central at Mt. Vernon

Sept. 12 – Pendleton Heights at Greenfield-Central

Sept. 19 – New Palestine at Pendleton Heights

Sept. 26 – Shenandoah at Knightstown

Oct. 3 – New Castle at Mt. Vernon

Oct. 10 – Shenandoah at Eastern Hancock

Oct. 17 – TBA

Broadcasting on NineStar Connect channel 9, the EH-Northeastern matchup will be shown Monday at 7 p.m.

NineStar plans to show future games live on-air, as well as live with online streaming, dependent on the school facilities and access to fiber optic cable.

As usual, Greenfield-Central’s Cougar Radio (89.7 FM) will carry G-C football live over the air, as well as online. Go to the high school’s web page at gchs.gcsc.k12.in.us to listen.

This year for the first time, New Palestine offers Dragon Radio, which will stream online. Visit crimson.newpal.k12.in.us or newpalestineathletics.com to connect. Dragon Radio will broadcast football, soccer and volleyball while New Palestine sports information director/teacher/broadcaster/author/website creator Andrew Smith capably adds to a resume that’s longer than a CVS receipt.

Absent from this fall’s activities

Daily Reporter sportswriter Grant Freking won’t be around the local fields any longer. Nearly three years to the day after we hired him, Freking will cover his last event for the Daily Reporter with the Eastern Hancock-Northeastern game.

Freking, an Ohio State graduate, is returning to the Buckeye State to pursue an online sports media venture. And we’ll be welcoming a new sportswriter, Jim Ayello, a recent Missouri grad.

Freking will be sorely missed. He made my life easier, made himself an expert on swimming and track and field and cross country and skillfully covered the sports with which he was already familiar.

He embraced the local sports community – it’s players, coaches and administrators – and it embraced him back.

Coming out of college, Freking is the first to admit he was green. But the rookie quickly became an old pro. As these three years went by, I thought of Grant not so much as my sportswriter, but as a teammate, a compatriot, a partner.

And if we went back in time three years, I’d enthusiastically hire Freking again. Good luck, my friend.

Suddenly, heat

In a summer that hasn’t been all that warm, Friday’s temperatures are threatening to reach into the 90s. A few schools across the state have already moved their kickoff times back one hour Friday to beat the heat. Hancock County athletic directors said Wednesday they would evaluate the matter today before making a decision.  There’s also a solid chance of thunderstorms Friday. Be sure to check the Daily Reporter website and sports Twitter feed @GDRsports for updates on revamped start times or weather delays.

Brian Harmon is the sports editor of the Daily Reporter. Contact him at (317) 477-3227 or at bharmon@greenfieldreporter.com.

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