Mike Gillin’s first season of coaching high school football was in 1977 as an assistant at Monrovia High School.
The Bulldogs were off to a shaky 1-4 start when head coach Wayne Stahley spoke words that remain with the Indian Creek coach to this day: “Guys, we’ve got to coach harder.”
Gillin remembered Stahley’s message this season when the Braves sputtered out of the gate with losses in three of their first four games, including blowouts in Weeks 3 and 4.
Rather than throwing their arms up and blaming the slow start on a lack of player talent or maturity, the coaching staff worked tirelessly to put players in positions where they could best succeed.
Senior Elijah Dunn, who had a total of four carries in the first two games, became Indian Creek’s go-to ball carrier. Gillin also elected to whittle the number of two-way starters from three to one, that being senior lineman Nick Clevenger.
There were some position changes defensively, as well.
The Braves walloped Brown County, 67-13, in Week 5 and haven’t looked back.
They take a five-game win streak to Indianapolis Washington (1-7) Friday for a Class 3A sectional game against a Continentals team that has been shut out three times this season and scored only six points on three other occasions.
Washington’s lone victory was a 34-20 decision over Rock Creek Academy, a school in Sellersburg in its first season of organized football.
“We’re definitely playing better. Of course, we’re not playing Clinton-Massie every week, either,” said Gillin , referring to the outstanding Ohio program that handed Indian Creek a 52-21 loss in Week 4.
“I really feel good how the team has responded. We’ve just got to keep it in perspective and keep working hard.”
Dunn completed the regular season with 662 rushing yards, while junior Parker Osborn and Bryce Hogue each average four receptions per contest. Junior linebacker Joe Clevenger is at 6.5 tackles a game to lead the Braves’ defense.
Should Indian Creek win Friday it likely would play 10th-ranked Batesville (8-1) in a semifinal match-up on Oct. 30.
There are also historical ramifications to Indian Creek’s postseason success in that Gillin sits at 298 victories over his 37-year career as a head high school football coach, having previously been at Tri-West and Decatur Central (his alma mater).
Beating Washington moves him one victory from No. 300, a milestone only seven men in Indiana have achieved.
BACK ON TRACK
Aug. 21 – Indian Creek 41, Knightstown 20
Aug. 28 – Greenwood 27, Indian Creek 20
Sept. 4 – Eastern Hancock 41, Indian Creek 7
Sept. 11 – Clinton-Massie (OH) 52, Indian Creek 21
Sept. 18 – Indian Creek 67, Brown County 13
Sept. 25 – Indian Creek 22, Milan 13
Oct. 2 – Indian Creek 32, North Decatur 6
Oct. 9 – Indian Creek 57, Broad Ripple 8
Oct. 16 – Indian Creek 43, South Decatur 14