Cougars continue to conquer new grounds


Greenfield-Central’s Andrew Zellers (5) follows the block of Brayden Herrell (2) on his way to a first down during their game against New Castle on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021.

Rob Baker | For The Daily Reporter

HANCOCK COUNTY — Pretty soon, Greenfield-Central’s football program is going to run out of firsts.

When you take over a program that had lost 16 straight games, you’re going to have a lot of those “first times” or “first time since …”

Taking over in 2019, Greenfield-Central head football coach Travis Nolting inherited a program that had been on rough times.

When they won in Week 5 of 2019, it ended a 16-game losing streak. They added a sectional win that season, too. The following year the win total grew to three, all coming against Hoosier Heritage Conference programs.

Last year, the club went 7-4, winning seven games for the first time since 2010.

Last week in a 30-28 victory at Plainfield, a Nolting G-C team won its season-opener, for the first time.

Tonight against visiting Greensburg, they are looking for a first-time victory in a Nolting home opener.

“It feels good. I think it’s a culmination of the hard work this group has put in for the four years I’ve been here,” Nolting said of winning at Plainfield last week. “Our seniors were freshmen when I got here. They committed to the process and trusted it.”

Trust the process, that’s another common phrase of Nolting’s teams. It’s actually their motto.

That’s exactly what the players have done. Nolting brought in a new style of play, including a Wishbone offense.

After struggles in 2019 and 2020, the players are seeing the fruits of their labor.

“He’s said it all along since our freshman year, trust the process,” senior running back Brayden Herrell said. “It’s always been our motto. It goes on the field, in the weight room, it’s his style of offense and defense. We’ve always heard that and it’s what we stick with.”

Herrell referred back to when he was a freshman. The Cougars opened at home against Plainfield and suffered a decisive loss.

“Our freshman year, with opponents like (5A Plainfield) we’d get killed like 70-0,” Herrell said. “To come out and win shows how far we have come. We have to keep going.”

That first game wasn’t as bad as 70-0, but it was a 42-6 loss. During that first season, the Cougars lost each of their first four games by 24 points or more.

“The strides we’ve made in getting bigger, faster, stronger, learning the offense and defense better, it’s trusting the process and getting better every day,” senior running back Andrew Zellers said.

Zellers was one of the Cougars to have a big game against the Quakers. He scored two touchdowns and rushed for 197 yards.

“It was a great feeling to come out and get a win to start the season, especially being senior year,” Zellers said. “It puts us on the right track to keep winning this year.”

The win was recognized, too. The Cougars jumped up to No. 10 in the Indiana Football Coaches Association Class 4A rankings.

“We’ve gradually made progress every year,” Nolting said on his team’s 1-0 start. “That’s always the goal, day-by-day we get better and better. Again, it’s a huge testament to the work the kids have put in. I get to call the plays and all those types of things but they are the ones that have to go out and execute it. They’re the ones that have decided to get on the bus and do the things we’ve asked them to do. It is starting to pay off for them.”