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Healthy Egenolf should make Braves an improved team

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In an attempt to compensate for time lost, Indian Creek tailback Dokken Egenolf could have dreamed outrageously large dreams when it came to goals for his final season of high school football.

A thousand yards, nothing. Maybe 1,500 yards and 20 touchdowns. Better yet, 2,000-plus, 30 trips to the end zone and a Class 3A state championship.

But the 5-foot-7, 190-pound senior did no such thing.

“We had a senior meeting, and we talked about all of our personal and team goals. I didn’t really put a number for touchdowns or rushing yards down,” said Egenolf, whose much-anticipated junior season barely left the launch pad after he suffered a season-ending knee injury late in the first quarter of a 47-0 blanking of host Knightstown in Week 1.

“I just told the guys I didn’t want to go into the next Saturday saying, ‘I could have done better on another play,’” Egenolf said. “It’s about leaving it all on the field every week.”

Which is what Egenolf plans to do Friday night at home against the same Knightstown team and for every carry, pass block, reception, high-five and postgame embrace he records after that.

Any story about Egenolf must trace the history of his trendy, though somewhat uncommon, first name.

Tom Egenolf, a 1980 Center Grove graduate and an outstanding linebacker, would go on to play college football at the University of Cincinnati. It’s there he befriended a fellow Bearcats freshman named Mike Dokken, a linebacker who, unfortunately, blew out his knee two weeks into preseason practice.

Dokken never played a minute for Cincinnati.

“I stayed good friends with him all through college, and it was around then the (heavy metal) band Dokken started to become popular,” Tom Egenolf remembered. “I thought, man, if I ever have a son ... Dokken, what a cool name.”

The younger Egenolf made it particularly hip in 2012 when as a sophomore he rushed for 1,293 yards and 14 touchdowns as Indian Creek posted a 9-3 record.

Egenolf’s attitude and desire to come back from his heartbreaking junior campaign was impressive to Braves coach Mike Gillin.

“First of all, Dokken was born to be a football player, his dad has raised him to be a football player, and he is a football player,” Gillin said. “It was very unfortunate last year with getting injured at the end of the first quarter in the first game. He had 100 yards rushing in the first quarter, got injured and was out for the season.

“That being said, I’ve never had a kid work harder in the offseason even before he was injured. After the injury, just remarkable hard work in the weight room doing everything you have to do to get back.”

Unquestionably the centerpiece of what should be another high-powered Braves offense, Egenolf has amassed a total of 1,542 rushing yards during his career having totaled 145 as a freshman and 104 in his lone appearance last season. He has 15 career receptions for 135 yards.

“He’s got everything you can ask for in a running back,” Gillin said. “He’s got good size. He’s not tall, but there are running backs in the NFL that aren’t much over 5-7 or 5-8. His strength is unbelievable. One of the strongest kids I’ve ever coached in my 35 years of coaching, and he runs a legit 4.5 40.

“Probably the most impressive thing is he understands blocking schemes. He knows where to make his cuts and is an unbelievable pass blocker and a super receiver. A lot of people don’t know of Dok because he missed most of that junior season. He deserves to have that year that he’s worked for, and hopefully he’ll be able to do that.”

Last season, without Egenolf in the lineup, the Braves lost a Week 2 showdown against Class 4A Greenwood 33-28 and then came up short to Class A Eastern Hancock 33-25 a week later.

In time, the Braves found their footing, rattling off eight consecutive victories before losing to Guerin Catholic in the sectional finale 24-20.

Gillin’s squad adapted and in time grew. So, too, did Egenolf, despite having to take in the action from the sideline.

“Last season was really disappointing. Not only because of the hard work I had put in, but to see the disappointment of my team,” Egenolf said. “They went through two losses in a row. Overall, they picked it up, and I was the one struggling along and still trying to be a leader on the team. It really taught me a lot. It tested my faith. It tested me as a person. It definitely helped me to grow and be better this season.

“I learned that no matter how much work you put in, you’re not guaranteed time on the field no matter what. You’re more respectful to your parents, your coaches because you’re just thankful for everything. You never know when something bad is going to happen.”

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