Indian Creek senior Tyler Weltich is 65 pounds heavier and at least three inches taller than the last time he put on a Braves football uniform.

Weltich’s last sampling of the gridiron was as a swift 115-pound receiver for the eighth-grade squad. He’s currently being counted on to play inside linebacker in what will be his first and only varsity season.

Four years is a long time away from the sport, but Weltich doesn’t feel he’ll be at a disadvantage by the time Indian Creek opens its season at North Putnam on Aug. 18.

“It really doesn’t feel like I’ve missed any time,” Weltich said. “It feels like I picked up where I left off. The support I’ve received from everyone in our football program has made it easy.”

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Weltich played football from Grades 5 to 8, but not as a freshman. He focused on wrestling — advancing to the Mooresville Regional at 152 pounds as a junior — and his love of racing four-wheelers during his first three years of high school.

But his three best friends, Braves’ defensive stalwarts Grant Goforth, Dylan Sprong and Brad Trietsch, persuaded Weltich to join them on late-summer and fall Friday nights.

“Basically, they pushed me all the way through high school to play football again, and I finally decided to play my senior year,” Weltich said. “I missed the environment and just being around my friends in that setting.”

Indian Creek coach Brett Cooper knows he’ll need Weltich if the Braves are to improve a defense that allowed an average of 24.2 points per game a year ago.

“Tyler hit the weight room aggressively this off-season and put himself in a position to compete for a starting spot,” Cooper said. “He has been here every day this summer, inquisitive with a workmanlike demeanor.

“Although he hasn’t played in a couple years he hasn’t really missed a beat in learning our system. We can’t wait to see how he transitions these attributes to the playing field.”

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