The last time the Greenwood football program won a regional title, current head coach Mike Campbell was in high school.
A senior-dominated group of Woodmen has been planning to end that 27-year drought, and tonight they’ll have the opportunity to do so in their home finale against Mississinewa.
Many of the players in the Greenwood lineup tonight have been starters since they were sophomores, and that experience has paid off handsomely throughout a 10-2 season that already has produced the program’s first sectional championship since 2005.
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“We’ve been together ever since I’ve been in second grade,” senior running back Brandon Rosado said. “I’ve played with these guys through all my life.”
Campbell has allowed his players much more freedom to adjust the game plan on the fly; offensively, he says, such tweaks are made on nearly every possession.
“It’s a credit to the kids and their ability to come back and communicate to us what they’re seeing, Campbell stated. “You get this veteran group, we’ve got a lot of trust in what they see out there and what they think, so we let them have a lot of ownership offensively and defensively.”
“It’s just second nature,” senior offensive lineman Andy Pollert added. “When we see our coach call the plays, we don’t even have to really talk up front. We know where we’re supposed to go, what we’re supposed to do. When we get up to the second level, we know where the play’s supposed to go.”
That comfort level has shown, particularly down the stretch. Since getting Rosado back from an ankle injury for the Week 9 game against Whiteland, the Woodmen have scored 41, 43, 50 and 59 points.
In some ways, Rosado’s injury helped Greenwood’s offense become even more multi-dimensional. The trio of Rosado, junior running back Nick Willham and senior quarterback Seth Gallman has combined for 2,563 yards and 39 touchdowns on the ground, and fullback Anthony Williams has emerged as a short-yardage option as well.
Gallman has completed nearly two-thirds of his passes this season (109 of 166 for 1,507 yards), including a perfect 9 of 9 the last two weeks. He’s been sharing the wealth, with top targets Conner Battinau, R.J. Meyers and Luke Raker each pulling in at least 22 catches.
With that many weapons, Greenwood has become difficult to stop of late. Gallman doesn’t seem surprised.
“The game is slowing down for a lot of us out there,” the veteran quarterback said. “A lot of us have played in 20-plus varsity games, so it’s just slowing down for us. Coaches are putting us in the right spots, and hopefully we can execute it.”
The experience isn’t just showing on the offensive side of the ball, either. Take away a 63-27 loss at Plainfield in Week 5 where anything that could have possibly gone wrong for the Woodmen did, and Greenwood’s defense has been incredibly stingy, yielding just 12.8 points a game and holding six different opponents to single digits.
That group blanked a high-flying Decatur Central offense for the entire first half of a tight 13-12 defeat, then held off a late Franklin charge in a 12-10 victory.
“I think we’re a pretty complete team,” Campbell said. “We don’t have to rely on one side of the ball.”
Greenwood has struggled to earn respect from the outside; heading into the postseason, the team wasn’t in the Class 4A top 10 in either the media or coaches’ polls. The computers have been far more generous, though — in the Sagarin ratings, the Woodmen are the third-ranked 4A team.
None of that concerns this team, though. They’re focused on adding more hardware to their collection week by week, with that first regional crown since 1990 the next step.
“We’ve had those goals all year,” Gallman said. “We just want to keep playing to our potential, and the sky’s the limit.”
Campbell is particularly proud of his senior class, which has helped the program make a steady climb from a four-win season in 2014. In three years, this group has won 25 games, Greenwood’s most successful stretch in more than a decade.
“They have done so much for the program, but they’ve earned every bit of it,” the coach said. “It hasn’t just been given to them. They’ve worked hard to get to where we’re at.”
Two local teams are playing for regional titles tonight. Follow the action on Facebook, on Twitter or at dailyjournal.net.
Center Grove (6-5) at Avon (9-2), 7 p.m.
Mississinewa (10-2) at Greenwood (10-2), 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $8 at each game.