CARMEL – True die-hard prep football fans had no trouble identifying the stars on offense who would don the bright yellow helmets for the team in south Hamilton County.
Viktrup, Paschall, James, Perkins. All specialists for the Carmel’s offensive unit that earned plenty of publicity during their run to a 2013 Class 6A title game performance. They were all back to make sure that the Greyhounds finished the job in 2014 after losing in the state championship game to Warren Central.
But when it came to their defense, it was more of a group of unknowns that would have to pick up the slack, considering that eight starters from last year’s team were gone.
“We only had three kids back from last year,” said head coach Kevin Wright of the defensive side of the ball.
They haven’t seemed very inexperienced.
Over the past ten games this new look defensive unit has made a name for itself with series of solid defensive performances in arguably the state’s best football conference, the Metropolitan Interscholastic. The Greyhounds have allowed an average of 11 points a game and never allowed an opponent more that 21 points in a single game.
Wright credits the player’s willingness to adapt to the system and the work by the assistant coaches to teach them the system for the quick creation of a top-tier defensive unit.
“Our kids are very coachable and the benefits of Indiana in the summer with the rules you can start putting things in and working on technique in June and we’ve done that and then you’ve got to get some game experience,” said Wright. “They’ve gotten better and better.”
They weren’t too bad to start. They held rival Hamilton Southeastern to one first quarter touchdown in the opening and then did the same on the road at Kentucky power Louisville Trinity the next week. Wright’s defense was most impressive perhaps in back-to-back games against offensive powers Warren Central and Ben Davis, when the Greyhounds held them to 14 and 10 points, respectively, in a pair of victories.
In their Class 6A Sectional 4 opener against Noblesville, Carmel held the Millers to just a pair of field goals in a 28-6 victory.
“It’s our focus, it’s how we prepare every week,” said Carmel senior safety Luke Parker of the defense’s consistent success in 2014. “We prepare every week the same, to be honest. Differently for different teams, scheme wise, we prepare speed, getting to the ball, effort, efficiency every single week.”
For this week it’s Fishers that the Greyhounds defense will have their eyes on in their Sectional 4 Championship game at home. The Tigers have had a flashes of being a state title contender at times in finishing their regular season with a 6-3 record. Led by the rushing of running back Maurice Campbell the Tigers averaged 29 points a game this season and were efficient in a 21-0 Sectional opening win over Hamilton Southeastern.
“Their offense is one of the best offenses we’re going to see this year scheme wise,” said Parker of the Tigers. “We’re gonna have a good challenge but I think we’re up to it.”
In the past Carmel has been, beating Fishers 35-20 in the Sectional 4 Final in 2013 and while also defeating them in the playoffs in 2006 and 2009. The Tigers’ lone victory over the Greyhounds in the playoffs came in 2010, when Rick Wimmer’s team won 17-14 on the road in the Sectional en route to the school’s first ever state championship.
“The thing that always stands out to me about Coach Wimmer and his staff and his team is they get better and better every week from the start to the finish,” said Wright of Fishers. “They run the ball well. They’re very aggressive on defense, good kicking game, a very complete football team and they know how to win and they’re used to winning.”
Wright could say the same about his team and the defense that everyone knows about now.