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Lancers standout an all-star in athletics, academics

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In any given year, one or more local players are selected for the Indiana Football Coaches Association North-South All-Star Game.

Precious few come from Edinburgh.

Established in 1967, the annual event — which today is called the Grange Insurance All-Star Football Classic — is a showcase for the state’s top senior players. The game has featured one Edinburgh player.

That was Francis Knue, in 1967.

Later this month, the number will rise to two, when standout Dakota Sneed ends the Lancers’ 47-year all-star drought when he suits up for the South team.

A well-deserved honor for Sneed, it is also an emotional boost for the Class A Lancers program, which is on the cusp of turning a competitive corner.

Anyone remotely familiar with area football knows that Edinburgh, charitably speaking, has struggled.

To put it bluntly, it has, for the better part of the past two decades, been among the state’s worst teams. Consider:

Edinburgh hasn’t had a winning season since 1993.

Since 1997, the Lancers have had eight winless campaigns, including four straight between 2005 and 2008.

Between 1997 and 2010, their collective record was 7-133 — a total that includes a forfeit win that would otherwise have resulted in a ninth winless season.

In light of circumstances, it’s easy to understand why the Lancers haven’t exactly sent a parade of players to the all-star game. Trickle is even too generous a term.

But maybe, just maybe, Sneed’s selection — coupled with the program’s new direction under fifth-year coach Bill Unsworth — might herald a new era for Edinburgh.

A longtime college coach, Unsworth has been with the Lancers since 2010. They’ve enjoyed steady progress each year, going 1-9 the first season; 3-8 the next; 4-6 the next; and 5-6 last year, including a sectional win against North Decatur.

Sneed, a four-year starter on the offensive and defensive lines, has been there every step of the way.

One of the best athletes in school history (he also was a basketball and track and field standout), Sneed was — in addition to the all-star nod — a first-team member of the Daily Journal’s All-County Team. He committed to Butler during the spring and was easily the Lancers’ best football player since Knue, who went on to play at Franklin College, where he was a teammate of Unsworth.

But Sneed was more than an all-star football on the field. He also was an all-star in the classroom.

A member of the National Honor Society, he was a National Football Foundation Scholar Athlete and a member of the 2013 Indianapolis Colts Academic All-Stars.

Moreover, he had the rare distinction of being his school’s best athlete and best scholar. He was Edinburgh’s Male Athlete of the Year nominee and its valedictorian.

At Butler, he’ll balance football and books as he pursues a degree in pharmacy.

But first, he has one last piece of unfinished business in high school, which is the July 18 all-star game at North Central High School.

A student-athlete in the purest sense of the term, the Lancers couldn’t ask for a better representative to break their lengthy absence from a game that, in the past decade, has included multiple players from Johnson County’s other five public schools.

With any luck, Edinburgh won’t wait another 47 years between all-stars. Through diligence, determination and sheer hard work, Sneed has shown the way.

It’s up to the Lancers to follow.

Rick Morwick is the sports editor for the Daily Journal. Send comments to rmorwick@dailyjournal.net.

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