Players who formerly played for Johnson County high school football teams comprise 7 percent of the University of Indianapolis roster.
There are eight in all, one of the “Elder” statesmen being a redshirt sophomore linebacker looking to make an impact following an injury-shortened 2013 season.
Former Center Grove standout O’rion Elder is healthy again after suffering a season-ending ACL injury to his right knee in the Greyhounds’ 56-3 stomping of William Jewell during the seventh game of the 2013 season.
“Last year was really hard because it happened during a game, and I was actually starting to play a lot,” Elder said. “But now I’m feeling really good. I’m fully recovered and back to normal.”
Familiarity reigns supreme with the 6-foot-1, 224-pound defensive end comprising one-fourth of a group of former Center Grove
players. The others are redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Jordan Bedan and two freshmen, defensive lineman Dillon Dallas and running back Logan Hutson.
Bedan is coming off a season in which he was named Second Team All-Great Lakes Valley Conference after starting all 12 games at left tackle.
Also representing Johnson County are junior defensive tackle Lee Campbell (Greenwood), redshirt sophomore running back Jacob Moran (Franklin), redshirt sophomore receiver Zach Horgan (Whiteland) and freshman tight end Logan Kizzee (Greenwood).
The University of Indianapolis roster also includes ex-Roncalli High School player Cal Scifres, a 6-4, 278-pound freshman offensive lineman, and a trio of players who prepped at Franklin Central.
“I love it. I love playing with guys from the southside. Three of us were (Indiana) All-Stars with me, Jordan and O’rion, so I played with them in the North-South All-Star Game,” said Campbell, a preseason All-American. “I love seeing them succeed. It makes our team better, as well.”
“We know where we’re from, and we take pride in that,” Elder added.
Elder and Bedan were junior starters on the 2010 Trojans when Dallas and Hutson earned varsity minutes as ninth-graders. The four helped propel Center Grove to the Class 5A semistate the following season, where the Trojans dropped a 21-17 heartbreaker at eventual state champion Carmel.
“We have a special relationship because we all went through the same things,” Elder said. “We definitely take a walk down memory lane with the games we played together.”
The objective now is to do the same in the future.
Once the definition of mediocrity having posted a 42-45 record (.483) from 2002-2009, University of Indianapolis football in coach Bob Bartolomeo’s first four seasons has gone 33-14 (.702) with trips to the NCAA Division II playoffs the past two seasons.
“I feel like we’re so prepared,” Elder said. “There are other factors to it, but getting that taste of the playoffs really pushes us.”