Larger coaching staff helps with Lancers’ substitution pattern

At this time last year, Edinburgh’s gridiron efforts were centered around the efforts and philosophies of three men.

Derrick Ball was in his rookie season as the Lancers’ head coach. The 2005 Warren Central High School graduate, at one time a lineman for the Warriors, doubled as the program’s defensive coordinator.

Coaches meetings included offensive coordinator Shawn Smith and another assistant, Ryan Burton.

Among the staff’s responsibilities was establishing a substitution pattern designed to keep the players — between 21 and 27 of them at various points of the season — fresh and capable of maximum performance throughout.

Fast forward to this season.

Not only are there more players (31), but the coaching staff has more than doubled in numbers.

Ball is four games into his second year. Smith is still on board. And six new faces and sets of opinions are on the Edinburgh staff.

Assistants Terry Riggs (defensive coordinator), Ryan Bramlett (quarterbacks), John Henderson (running backs/linebackers), Paul Palmeter (special teams), Jerry Deloach and Scott Calhoun help keep track of which Lancers should be on the field.

“We have a rotation, especially with our running backs and wide receivers,” Ball said. “If a receiver runs a long route, we’re swapping a kid out.

“Offensive linemen are a little more difficult. Smaller schools like ours have fewer large players to choose from, but my staff does a great job of telling me who needs to come out of the game.”

Ball, a starter on Warren Central’s 2003 and 2004 state champions in Class 5A, previously coached with Smith as assistants at Fort Wayne and, more recently, Anderson High School.

When Ball took the Edinburgh job, Smith was among his first phone calls.

Establishing improved depth at all positions — not just in numbers, but performance — is one of the main challenges the Lancers’ staff deals with on a daily basis.

“We really have to work on our number twos to be better. When one goes down, someone has to step up,” Smith said.

Most Lancers players will play either offense or defense and then have a role in what the special teams units are doing.

Then there are those like sophomore Grant Goforth and senior Kyle Armel, who rarely exit the playing surface over the course of four quarters.

“Grant was a track kid as a freshman. He was strictly a defensive player last year,” Smith said. “He’s one of our best tacklers, so you have to use him on special teams.

“It’s the same thing with Kyle, because he’s a good tackler and one of our fastest players.”

Every Edinburgh assistant coach understands which players are in need of a breather and which ones are best suited to return to the action on the field.

“My staff is on top of it,” Ball said. “That allows me to be able to manage the football game.”

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Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at