HANCOCK COUNTY — Five games into the high school football season, first-time quarterbacks have been gaining valuable experience they hope to use in the second half of the regular season.

Two of the four county schools have been either starting or giving significant playing time to freshmen. Another school has a sophomore first-time varsity player. A fourth is starting a veteran player, but a first-timer at his school.

“Every week he’s growing up,” Eastern Hancock coach Pat Echeverria said after frosh Elijah Edon’s fifth game of the season last Friday at Knightstown. “When he makes mistakes he really learns from them. He’s learning fast. He just has a lot of things to learn as a freshman. Every night is a great experience for him. He responded well to not playing as well in the first half (against Knightstown) and then playing well in the second.”

Edon threw three touchdown passes, two in the second half, in last week’s 61-6 win over rival Knightstown.

He’s just a freshman, but that’s nothing new at Eastern Hancock. Edon took over for the graduated Houston Swan, who was a four-year starter, and is now playing at Culver-Stockton (an NAIA program in Missouri).

The Royals rookie has combined to throw nine touchdown passes in the team’s three wins.

Mt. Vernon has been using a freshman, too, lefty Luke Ertel, who has split time at the spot with senior Eli Bridenthal.

The Marauders graduated Gehrig Slunaker, a three-year starter, who helped lead them to the Class 4A state title. Slunaker has been getting significant playing time as a freshman QB at Georgetown (Ky.).

Those are big shoes to fill for a frosh, and a senior that had spent much of his time — on the offensive side — as a wide receiver.

Both Bridenthal and Ertel played quarterback in last week’s 42-28 win over Delta.

Bridenthal has been more of a runner than a passer when he’s been taking snaps, but last week’s performance against Delta showed why he is one of the county’s top all-around athletes. He rushed for 124 yards and three scores and threw two touchdown passes.

Ertel has had some strong showings, too. In a big win over rival Greenfield-Central, Ertel threw for 175 yards and two touchdowns. He threw for 282 yards in a Week 2 loss at Class 5A Franklin.

Greenfield-Central sophomore Dallas Freeman had a strong debut for the Cougars.

With the graduation of Rashawn Street, now a freshman wide receiver at Division III Trine, the Cougars were looking for a QB this season, too.

Freeman has added a new wrinkle into G-C’s Wishbone offense.

In a Week 1 win at Class 5A Plainfield, Freeman had the most productive performance, through the air, than any Cougar quarterback since coach Travis Nolting installed his offense in 2019.

Freeman went 11-for-17 for 219 yards and two touchdowns. He threw two more TD passes the following week in a win over Greensburg.

He, like the others, has had ups and downs during a first varsity season.

Added to that, he missed last week’s game at Shelbyville due to an injury and is considered doubtful for tonight’s game at New Palestine.

With Freeman out, veteran running back Brayden Herrell has moved to the quarterback position. He was the starter last week at Shelbyville.

New Palestine graduated Damon Hockett, who is now a freshman quarterback at Taylor University.

The Dragons have a new person at quarterback, but not as young as most of the other county QBs.

Daniel Tippit IV, is a senior who transferred to New Palestine from Warren Central.

He came in with varsity experience, but is new to New Pal.

As a Warren Central junior, Tippit played in six games, completing 22 of 52 passes for 325 yards, four touchdowns and five interceptions for the Class 6A school. He also threw a pair of TD passes as a sophomore.

Tippit has fit right in with the Dragons and has had impressive numbers for Class 4A’s top-ranked team.

He’s thrown 12 touchdown passes, at least one in each game, and had just one interception – last week at Pendleton Heights.

Tippit has completed 68.5 percent of his passes. Though he had is first interception last week, Tippit had big numbers against the Arabians, completing 18 of 21 passes for 310 yards and four touchdowns. He’s averaging 208.4 passing yards per game and has also rushed for a pair of scores.

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