Man, that was fast.
My first day at the Daily Journal was the first day of August — the opening day of practice for most high school fall sports, as it turned out. I got here just in time to take in the entire 2016-17 athletics calendar — and I can’t believe we’re about to reach the end of it.
It’s been far too short of a ride, but also quite an enjoyable and exciting one.
As I arrived, I was told mythic tales about Center Grove’s football program in general and Titus McCoy in particular — and while I was cheated out of the full on-field McCoy experience, everything positive that anyone ever said to me about him as a person is true as far as I could gather. He’s a beloved figure in these parts, and it didn’t take me long to understand why.
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On the field, McCoy’s void was filled more than adequately by Russ Yeast. I’ve covered numerous four- and five-star prospects and future NFL players throughout the course of my career, but few have generated as much excitement on the field as Yeast did. Center Grove fans only got him for a year, but I’m guessing that not a one of them would give that year back.
I got to see both the Trojans and Roncalli make the march to Lucas Oil Stadium on the final football weekend of the fall, experiencing the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows on the same day.
The rest of the year covered that same full spectrum of highs, lows and the hey-we-almost-did-its in between.
There were the impressive swimming exploits of Franklin sophomores Jacob Destrampe and Carla Gildersleeve, the brutal dominance of Whiteland football/track & field star Ryder Emberton and the deft scoring touch displayed by girls soccer standouts such as Kayla Rance (Greenwood) and Delanie Hill (Franklin).
I got to witness premier post prospects Trayce Jackson-Davis (Center Grove) and Mackenzie Blazek (Whiteland) doing their thing during basketball season; the spectacular play of setters Madison Hammill (Center Grove) and Brooke Phillips (Franklin) on the volleyball court; and the undeniable ballsiness of Indian Creek freshman swimmer Chase Smith.
There were the seasons that ended all too abruptly — I thought for sure I’d be getting ready to watch Center Grove’s softball team play again this weekend. There were other exciting efforts from young teams that just served to whet the appetite for the next time around; I’ll be curious to see what the likes of Edinburgh softball, Franklin swimming and Greenwood football have in store for us, and I’m eager to see Greenwood Christian take part in the county tournaments for the first time, too.
I still haven’t had the pleasure of covering a Johnson County state champion yet, although I’m hopeful that something will be done on a tennis court or golf course over the next five days to remedy that. But even if there is no local team hoisting up a big Indiana-looking trophy during that time, my first go-round here has exceeded all expectations.
Of course, that means the bar has been set pretty high for 2017-18. Pressure’s on, folks …