With 13 seniors — including her older sister — on the roster last season, Emilie Hill didn’t need to worry about taking on a leadership role with the Franklin girls soccer team.

Now entering her junior season, she’s being counted on to guide a much younger group of Grizzly Cubs. The typically reserved Hill is embracing it.

“One thing that she’s done this year is stepped up,” Franklin coach Dave Young said. “Her and Sarah (Sullivan) have both stepped up, and they realize that it’s their show now.”

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Delanie Hill was the big name for the Grizzly Cubs the past four years, scoring 100 goals in her high school career.

But Emilie Hill, who had 14 goals and 10 assists last fall while earning an all-county nod alongside her sister, quietly emerged as the team’s best all-around player. She headed in a pair of goals, including the game-winner, during a pivotal conference match at Greenwood, one of her five two-goal efforts in 2016.

With Delanie Hill and her 22 goals now at Marian University, Emilie will be counted on to carry an even greater share of the offensive load — but do so from more of a defensive position as the Grizzly Cubs try to leave her in a position to keep scoring down early in the year.

“Last year with Delanie, I was mainly more offensively to attack with her,” the younger Hill said. “I feel like this year, I’m going to be a little bit more defensively.”

During the offseason, Emilie gave a verbal commitment to the University of Evansville, alleviating the stress that can come with being a coveted recruit.

“It takes a lot off,” Hill said. “I can focus more on working to where I want to be than having to deal with the extra stuff … work more for myself than trying to impress people.”

Hill has done plenty to impress others with her talent. What’s she’s doing now to impress her teammates and Young with her leadership efforts might be just as important.

The Grizzly Cubs are hoping to again contend for a Mid-State Conference title after finishing second last fall, and how quickly Hill can help get Franklin’s newcomers acclimated to the varsity level will go a long way toward determining whether that goal is attained.

Young is pleased with how his star player has handled the added responsibility.

“Little sister’s not little sister anymore,” he said. “It’s been fun to watch — she’s been a leader on the field, in workouts, in the weight room, a positive influence on the girls.”

Scouting Johnson County's girls soccer teams

Center Grove Trojans

Coach: Mike Bishop

Last year: 11-5-1, lost to Franklin Central in Shelbyville Regional semifinal

Who’s back: Isabelle Andersen, Tetyana Clements, Braxton Gentry, Emma Jones, Athena Passafiume and Molly Williams, seniors; Kailee Joseph, Gracyn Montfort and Ella Thompson, juniors

Who’s gone: Kelli Hippenmeyer, Emily Jansen, Natalie Kintsler, Lillie Owens and Emmie Ward

New kids on the block: Ellie Edel, Katelyn Jansen and Jostin Reeves, sophomores; Macy Detty and Paige Waskom, freshmen

Outlook: Still seething from a stunning regional defeat, the Trojans are eager for a shot at redemption — and have a fully loaded roster. A strong and balanced crew of veterans is being bolstered by a talented crop of newcomers

Bishop says: “Their attitude is a lot different. It’s like, ‘Hey, we’ve got opportunities here to do a lot of great things. Let’s not just show up and play soccer; let’s be ready to go.’ And it shows so far.”

Franklin Grizzly Cubs

Coach: David Young

Last year: 7-8-2, lost to Center Grove in Franklin Sectional final

Who’s back: Sarah Sullivan and Maddy West, seniors; Maddie Alexander and Emilie Hill, juniors

Who’s gone: Allison Barnard, Makenna Bertsch, Mysia DeWitt and Delanie Hill

New kids on the block: Alex Bedard, sophomore; Emily Kleinhelter, freshman

Outlook: With 13 seniors having graduated, the Grizzly Cubs have some holes to fill, but they’ve also got some strong pieces to build around in Emilie Hill, who is already committed to the University of Evansville, and Sullivan. Those two veterans are expected to handle a large workload in the middle of the field until a young supporting cast can mature. Young believes Bedard can become a standout in goal.

Young says: “Obviously, we’re going to be a lot younger, but skillwise we’re going to be stronger than we were last year. … With Emilie and Sarah in the positions we’re going to put them at, I think they’re going to be successful offensively and defensively.”

Greenwood Woodmen

Coach: Joe Mushrush

Last year: 10-3-2, lost to Martinsville in first round of Franklin Sectional

Who’s back: Ashley Allen, Hanna Anderson, Brianna Conley, Maddie Moan, Sydney Neely and Kayla Rance, seniors; Veda Craig, junior

Who’s gone: Taylor Neely, Raquel Reyes, Darian Riley and Autumn Smith

New kids on the block: Olivia Brawley and Shelby Hanson, freshmen

Outlook: The 2016 regular season might have been the best in the history of the Greenwood program, but an early postseason exit left a sour taste. A dozen seniors, led by Daily Journal Player of the Year Rance, are back to make amends. Moan provides a strong presence in goal, and a big group of freshmen should give the Woodmen more depth than they’ve ever had and help make the team a potential contender for Mid-State Conference and sectional crowns.

Mushrush says: “We have a lot of high-IQ players, and we have a lot of players who aren’t afraid to make mistakes. … We’ve got a lot of leadership back, a lot of experience back, which is good.”

Greenwood Christian Cougars

Coach: Chris Dibble

Last year: 6-11, lost to Covenant Christian in first round of Cardinal Ritter Sectional

Who’s back: Grace Apgar and Monica Malerva, seniors; Avery Singleton, junior; Andrea Cottongim and Cameron Northern, sophomores

Who’s gone: Paulyna Georgievski, Savannah Harris and Ashley Heldman

Outlook: Dibble, who coached the Cougars in 2015, is after a one-year absence. He’ll be leaning heavily on Northern, who notched 12 goals and 10 assists as a freshman, as well as Apgar (9 goals, 8 assists). GCA figures to have a bit more depth and speed than it did a year ago, and its record should reflect that — provided the team can settle on a goalkeeper to replace the graduated Heldman.

Dibble says: “My biggest expectation is to take advantage of our athleticism and compete in every game. I think we’ll do a much better job of competing with those schools that are bigger than us.”

Whiteland Warriors

Coach: Abby Gross

Last year: 8-8-1, lost to Franklin in Franklin Sectional semifinal

No other team information was available at press time.

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Ryan O'Leary is sports editor for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at roleary@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2715.