Wins have traditionally been scarce for the Edinburgh Community High School football team.
So have college recruits.
But the times, they might be changing.
Dakota Sneed might be leading the change.
A four-year standout for the Lancers, Sneed recently signed a letter of intent to continue his career at Butler University.
Easily the highest-level opportunity for an Edinburgh football player in recent memory, it is also one of the few football opportunities, period, for a Lancers player.
When Sneed suits up for the Bulldogs in the fall, he’ll become only the third Edinburgh graduate since 2011 to play on a college gridiron. Wade Teltoe played briefly at NCAA Division III Manchester, and Brandon Morefield is a sophomore wingback at Division III Franklin College.
Besides attending the same high school, the former teammates had another thing in common before playing in college: All three played for Lancers coach Bill Unsworth, a former college head coach who completed his fourth season at Edinburgh in 2013.
Sneed, a 6-foot-3, 265-pound offensive lineman, credits much of his college opportunity and the growth of the Lancers’ long-struggling program to Unsworth’s leadership.
On his watch, Edinburgh has improved each season, and players are getting college looks that were virtually unheard of before his arrival.
“Ever since my freshman year, coach Unsworth has told me that I have the potential, and I have the work ethic and leadership to play at the next level,” Sneed said. “Ever since my freshman year I’ve focused on playing at the next level.
“I took every practice seriously and every weightroom (session) seriously, so it’s always been a dream. I love playing.”
A two-way player in high school, Sneed started on the offensive line for four seasons and on the defensive line for three. He played center his sophomore through senior years and was plugged in on the defensive front wherever he was needed.
“He was the best lineman we had. For four years, he’s been the best lineman we had,” Unsworth said. “As center for the past three years, every play started with him, so was was really important.”
In more ways than one.
Athletically, he was not only Edinburgh’s best player, but one of the best-ever in the program’s history. Scholastically, he ranks No. 1 in his class and is one of the state’s more cerebral players.
One of the 30 players statewide selected to the Indianapolis Colts 2013 Academic All-Star Team, Sneed tackled opponents and the nuance of the playbook with equal aplomb.
“His learning skills were excellent. He’s a smart kid, but more importantly he worked at it,” Unsworth said. “He works at it academically, so he was able to grasp concepts. The center makes all the different line calls, and he was really adept at doing that.”
Best of all for Edinburgh, Sneed’s contributions translated into wins. Although the Lancers haven’t had a winning record since 1993, they won more games in four years (17) than they did between 1994 and 2009 (16) prior to Unsworth’s arrival.
Edinburgh finished 5-6 last season, its best record in 20 years.
Sneed, who drew interest from a variety of Division III and NAIA schools as well as the University of Indianapolis, hopes his opportunity at Division I Football Championship Subdivision Butler will encourage underclassmen to strive for the same high athletic and academic goals.
“I think my work ethic has carried over to the some of the younger kids, and I also try to be a good role model to the upcoming high-schoolers,” said Sneed, who will play on the offensive line at Butler. “I think my work ethic and motivation will carry over to them.
“And also I think maybe some colleges will start realizing that just because we’re a small school doesn’t mean that we don’t have some talent and some kids.”
Unsworth can think of no better example than Sneed.
“He was an inspiration and a role model for the younger guys,” Unsworth said. “They knew if they worked hard in the classroom and on the field, they could go someplace and have an opportunity to get a great education.”