Greenwood football assistant Doug Raker is fond of telling his defensive players that you don’t have to make the tackle to help make the play.
Perhaps nobody on the Woodmen exemplifies that better than Nick Young.
The senior defensive tackle did amass 72 tackles as a junior, including 11 for loss, but it’s his ability to take on multiple defenders and free up teammates that may be his greatest asset.
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“A lot of times I will get double-teamed,” Young said. “I’m not going to make every tackle, but it frees up a linebacker, another lineman. You do your job, and it usually works out for the best.”
Sure enough, middle linebacker Bryce Taylor — playing right behind Young — racked up a team-high 104 stops a year ago. Linebacker Tim Johns and defensive end Jake Patton, both of whom also return for Greenwood, totaled 70 and 63 tackles, respectively.
Head coach Mike Campbell credits Young with helping to clear lanes for those other players.
“With Nick in there, it’s really made Bryce’s job a lot easier,” Campbell said. “(Patton) gets singled up so much that he’s going to win most of those one-on-ones, and we need that to happen for us to be successful.”
A third-year starter, Young hasn’t always received a ton of fanfare for his work on the field. He did earn Class 4A Junior All-State recognition last fall, but with three other Senior All-State defensive linemen in the county — Parker Ferguson and Dan Root of Center Grove and Ryder Emberton of Whiteland — it was easy for Young to get overlooked.
That shouldn’t be the case during his senior campaign, but Young has always been more concerned with team success anyway. Win, he figures, and the rest takes care of itself.
“Individual accomplishments and accolades, they’re great, they’re nice to have, but that kind of stuff doesn’t really motivate me,” Young said. “It motivates me more to help the team win; I think doing my best allows me to get those accolades, playing as hard as I can every Friday — but getting a win for the team and the community, that’s what motivates me more than anything.”
With several veteran starters back on both sides of the ball — not to mention last year’s sectional champion, Roncalli, moving up to Class 5A — the Woodmen have a big window of opportunity in 2017, and they’re trying to take advantage of it.
The senior class led players-only conditioning drills every week during the summer, a first during Campbell’s tenure, and Young was out in front for many of those workouts alongside quarterback Seth Gallman.
“He’s really seized the opportunity to become a better leader for us,” Campbell said of Young.
Expect that leadership to be evident on the field each Friday night, whether it’s Young who ends up making all of the tackles or not.
Greenwood’s 2017 football schedule (all games start at 7 p.m.):
Aug. 18;at Perry Meridian
Aug. 25;at Indian Creek
Sept. 1;at Martinsville
Sept. 15;at Plainfield
Sept. 29;Decatur Central
Oct. 6;at Franklin
1. Traditional rivalries aside, who are you most looking forward to playing and why?
I’m going to say Plainfield, because my sophomore year we beat them pretty good and junior year they beat us really good. We just want to get revenge on them because they did that at our homecoming last year.
2. If football didn’t exist, how would you keep yourself busy in the fall?
What else goes on in the fall? I mean, that’s all I’ve ever known is just football in the fall.
3. If you could trade bodies with one of your teammates, who would it be and why?
Tim (Johns), because he’s got that D-I athlete size, a 6-4, 230 linebacker with speed. Anybody over 6 foot, really, because I’ve been 5-10 since the seventh grade.
4. Name something fans will see from this team that they’re not expecting:
Just a winning personality. I think in the past, people just looked at us as a good team that beats people they’re supposed to but never really wins games they’re not supposed to. I think that’s going to change this year.
Coach: Mike Campbell (12th year)
Last year: 8-4, lost to Roncalli 42-6 in Class 4A sectional final
Projected starters: Seth Gallman, senior QB; Brandon Rosado, senior RB; Justin VanDyke, senior WR/S; Isaiah Drew, junior WR/CB; Conner Battinau, senior TE; Noah Dixon, sophomore OT; Zach Drew, senior OG; Cole Raker, junior C; Andy Pollert, senior OG; Ethan McClain, senior OT; Lex Logan, junior K; Jake Patton, senior DE; Joey Craig, senior DT; Nick Young, senior DT; Nolan Miller, junior DE; Tim Johns, senior LB/P; Bryce Taylor, junior MLB; Dillon Cloyd, junior LB; Noah Compton, senior CB; Alex Walker, junior S
Others to watch: Nick Willham, junior RB; Anthony Williams, junior RB; Dylan Wheatley, junior RB; R.J. Meyers, senior WR; Luke Raker, sophomore RB/WR
Outlook: With a bevy of returning senior starters, including a third-year quarterback in Gallman and a Division I linebacker in Johns, the Woodmen are feeling extremely confident about their prospects. The offense figures to be potent with all of the top receivers returning and a 1,000-yard rusher back in Rosado. Defensively, Young was a Junior All-State performer last year, and he anchors a line that should be able to do battle with anyone. Greenwood hopes to contend in a tough Mid-State Conference, and the potential is there for a deep run in the Class 4A tournament.
Campbell says: “We’re as experienced as we’ve been since I’ve been here. These guys have all played major roles since their sophomore years.”