Cougars getting healthier

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Greenfield-Central’s Jacob Hinton (left), Andrew Zellers (behind), Kirk Knecht (7) and Cash Looper (27) swarm a Greensburg ball carrier during their game Friday, Aug. 26, 2022. Lately, the Cougars have been hurt by injuries, but some key players are expected to return tonight.

Mike Brown | For The Daily Reporter

They aren’t 100 percent healthy, but the Greenfield-Central Cougars will be healthier when they play host to Yorktown tonight in a matchup of two of the better football teams in the Hoosier Heritage Conference.

At No. 1 New Palestine last week, Greenfield-Central, ranked No. 10 in the Class 4A Indiana Football Coaches Association Poll and receiving votes in the AP ratings, were without many key parts in the matchup of Hancock County rivals.

For the second straight week, the Cougars were without sophomore starting quarterback Dallas Freeman, linebacker Brodie Mayberry — who is also the backup quarterback — and versatile back/receiver/returner Owen Anderson. To complicate things more, standout fullback Andrew Zellers, the team’s top rusher and the No. 2 rusher in the county, went out early in the game against the Dragons.

“It’s the most injuries I’ve had since I’ve been here, with significant players,” Greenfield-Central fourth-year coach Travis Nolting said. “You have to play through it. That’s part of high school football, next man up.

“High school football is all about overcoming adversity. You’re going to have injuries and guys get hurt in different situations. Somebody has to step up. We talk all the time about overcoming adversity as a program and in life. There’s going to be things that happen and you are going to have to respond. I tell our kids every year, you never know when you are going to be called upon to go into the game.”

Nolting said Freeman and Anderson are expected to return tonight against the Tigers, who are receiving votes in the Class 3A poll. Yorktown is 5-1 on the year and 3-1 in the HHC with the only loss coming to New Palestine. Greenfield-Central is 4-2 and 2-2 in conference play.

Against New Palestine, the Cougars returned defensive back Jacob Stotts. He had two interceptions in the Mt. Vernon game (Week 3) before having to leave via ambulance when he was knocked out on a hit to the helmet.

Nolting is hopeful Mayberry and Zellers will be back soon, too. He said Mayberry was questionable for tonight and Zellers is likely out.

With the return of Freeman, senior Brayden Herrell, who has started at quarterback in Freeman’s absence, can return to his running back position.

“He was happy to do so,” Nolting said of Herrell stepping in and playing quarterback. “He’s a guy that will do whatever the team needs. It’s going to be nice to get him back to his natural position to get him in position to be more successful.

“With the situations we had, I thought we played as hard as we could (at New Palestine). It just became a war of attrition with us. I can’t say enough about the effort that our kids give every Friday night.”

The Cougars-Tigers matchup is one of four conference games in Week 7 of the nine-week regular season.

Class 4A No. 1 New Palestine (6-0, 4-0) travels to Shelbyville (1-5, 1-3) and Mt. Vernon (3-3, 3-1) plays host to New Castle (2-4, 1-3) in a pair of HHC contests.

Eastern Hancock (3-3, 1-1) is on the road for a Mid-Eastern Conference clash with defending league champion Monroe Central (2-3, 1-1).