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All five local teams have football scrimmages Friday

Tytus Ragle (6) moves up the field after catching a pass as defenders Layne Nicholson (37), Corbin Jarvis (38), and Trenton Williams (7) move in for the tackle during last Friday's New Castle Football Green & White Night at Neal Field. The Trojans will find out more about themselves whrn they host small-school power Lawrenceburg in a scrimmage Friday night at Neal Field.

By DAVID RISLEY - drisley@thecouriertimes.com

Our five local high school football teams should have a little better idea of their strengths and what they need to improve on after Friday's scrimmages, even though these events aren't held under some normal playing conditions.

After pounding on each other in practice for nine days, Hagerstown, Knightstown, New Castle, Shenandoah, and Tri have an opportunity to hit somebody else in more or less a final tune-up before the regular season starts Friday, Aug. 17.

The Trojans and Raiders will have their scrimmages at home while the Tigers, Panthers, and Titans will have to travel a little ways for theirs.

The purpose of these scrimmages, which took the place of jamborees in days of yore, is for coaches to evaluate their own teams. The IHSAA does not allow scouting at these events, although they can be video-taped and exchanged with a team's first opponent as long as approval by the team scrimmaged is granted.

Each team may have the head coach and one additional coach in the huddle and on the field during the scrimmage. All other coaches must be on the sidelines, in the bleachers, or in the press box.

As far as players, no player should be on the field more than 15 consecutive plays without a 10-minute rest period, and no player should participate in more than 48 plays (one-half of the scrimmage). In addition, only players who have five full-contact practices under their belts will be allowed to participate in the scrimmage.

As to the kicking game, each team will have six kicking plays of its choosing (kickoffs, punts, field goals, or extra points). Fake punts and two-point conversions are not permitted in these scrimmages. There will be live contact on kicking plays, but a defensive player is not allowed to hit a kicker.

A running clock is utilized on the scoreboard, no score will be kept, and the home team is in charge of providing the officials. The officials must assess any called penalties immediately without delay. A penalty counts as one of a team's plays.

Both teams will agree to Option A or Option B for the scrimmage. Option B has more reserves involved. Neither option will exceed 150 minutes, total. Option A has 96 plays maximum and Option B has 108 plays maximum.

Listed below is a brief summary of the five scrimmages involving our local teams. Each scrimmage starts at 7 p.m.

Hagerstown at Lapel

The Tigers were runner-up in Class A Sectional 46 in 2017 while the Bulldogs surprised Shenandoah to win the Class 2A Sectional 36 championship.

Hagerstown will need to find a new quarterback to replace the graduated Owen Golliher, who played the position four years and was the C-T Area Football Player of the Year in 2016. Several other starters, including wide receiver Jalen Oliver, will not be back, but the area's second-leading scorer in 2017, Mason Hicks, returns for his senior season.

Lapel, technically an Indianapolis suburban school, always seems to have its share of good football players but will have to replace some graduated players, as well.

Knightstown at Monroe Central

The Panthers graduated a lot of their offensive production last season, including quarterback Tyler Burton, running back Jon Simmons, and two-way lineman Garrett Thomas, but new Coach Chad Montgomery is trying to fit the pieces together for a winning team. Senior Jose Olivo is one of the players returning for Knightstown, who competes for the first time in a long while in the Tri-Eastern Conference.

The Golden Bears, or "Muncie East" as some folks call Monroe Central, quickly has developed a good football program that finished in the final four of Class A in 2017, losing to eventual state champion and small-school powerhouse Pioneer in the northern semi-state title game. The Golden Bears must replace some good talent that graduated, but more waits in the wings.

Lawrenceburg at New Castle

The Trojans certainly didn't get a pushover for their scrimmage. The Tigers have been a small-school football power for years in different classes and are now in Class 3A. Lawrenceburg is coming off an 11-2 season in which its only losses were to eventual Class 4A state champion East Central 15-14 in last season's opener and 56-35 to Pocket City power Evansville Memorial in the regional. New Castle will see some good athletes on the opposite side Friday night.

New Castle got its feet wet with an intra-squad scrimmage last Friday during Green & White Night and will get a little better idea of what it has Friday against the Tigers. Drew Barber seems to have the upper hand right now as replacement for graduated record-setting quarterback Niah Williamson. The receiving corps for the Trojans and most of the defense returns from last year, but New Castle will have almost a new offensive line. The Trojans should be tested by Lawrenceburg, which is good.

Elwood at Shenandoah

This is an interesting scrimmage in the sense that both the Panthers and Raiders are in Class 2A Sectional 36. How much these two want to show each other before the regular season starts remains to be seen.

Elwood is coming off a 2-8 2017 campaign. The Panthers put up 40 points or more in their final three games, but gave up a ton of them all season, including 56 to Alexandria in last year's sectional opener (Elwood had 42). In all likelihood, Elwood graduated some seniors off that team and this writer doesn't know how much of the starting cast returns.

The Raiders are the only local area team to return their starting quarterback, Peyton Starks, in 2018, so that's one puzzle piece Coach Jordan McCaslin won't have to find. C-T All-Area Players Joe Huff, Josh Myers, Jordan Starks, and Dylan Frost graduated and replacements need to be found for them, but Shenandoah is a solid program and will get help from from an undefeated JV team. A tough road game at Indianapolis Scecina to open the season awaits Aug. 17.

Tri at North Decatur

This is another match-up of a scrimmage between two teams who are in the same sectional, this one Class A Sectional 46. Again, how much they want to show their hand to each other remains to be seen. 

The Chargers were 5-5 last year, pounding the teams they should have defeated and getting pounded, more or less, by others in their losses. Hagerstown defeated North Decatur 40-12 in the sectional opener. The Chargers lost a few good players to graduation and some return in 2018.

Tri Coach Andrew Totheroh is facing a major overhaul, particularly on offense, as Drew Mondrush, Alex Melton, Nick Wilson, Masen Phelps, and company have graduated and Kyler Burchett is playing elsewhere. An infusion of some talent from the sophomore class will help, but the regular season and TEC schedule are just a week away. The Titans have only three true home games this season, five of its nine opponents are in Class 2A, and two others nearly are. 

The Courier-Times will publish its special section with rosters, stories, schedules, and photos of our five area football teams Thursday, Aug. 23. Watch for it.