Johnson County’s seven high school boys golf teams are ready to tee things up after spring break.
In a realignment from last year, the IHSAA moved Center Grove, Edinburgh, Franklin, Greenwood, Indian Creek and Whiteland to the Southport Sectional at Heartland, along with Roncalli, Perry Meridian and Franklin Central.
Center Grove, with all five players shooting in the 70s, captured its 16th sectional title last year and sixth in the past seven years. The Trojans are ranked 13th in the preseason poll.
Center Grove finished fifth at last year’s Providence Regional, five strokes off the pace of the three teams that qualified for the state finals: Columbus North, Floyd Center and Jasper.
“We’re going to be very strong,” first-year coach Jim Williams said. He replaces longtime coach Doug Keller, who elected not to return to coaching after having back surgery. Williams also coaches the Center Grove girls golf team.
The Trojans return all five starters, including senior Wes Kennell, who fired a team-leading 76. Joining Kennell are juniors Austin Crowder, Christopher Heck, Zack Carabine and Hayden Martin.
The Trojans have 19 players on the roster, including Williams’ son Jackson, a sophomore, and junior Ben Surface.
Center Grove opens the season April 12 at the Floyd Central Invitational at Valley View Golf Club in Floyds Knobs.
Coach Doug Weddle welcomes back two senior letter winners, Chris Quillen and Seth Barrett.
“Right now I’m expecting Chris will play in the No. 1 spot and Seth No. 2,” Weddle said. “I’m also counting on the Pendleton brothers, Kyle and Zach, who had varsity experience last season, to help us out.”
Weddle said the rest of the starting spots are up for grabs.
The Lancers will host the Johnson County Tournament at Timbergate Golf Course on June 3. Edinburgh opens the season April 15 at Triton Central.
The Grizzly Cubs are looking to rebound from a sixth-place finish at last year’s sectional.
Franklin defeated Center Grove by one stroke to win the 2012 sectional.
Veteran coach Curt Holcroft has four of five starters returning, including seniors Ben Eads and Kirsch Sherrill, and juniors Spencer Wood and Jacob Hash.
Experienced returners also include juniors Austin Barnhizer and Jared Amich and sophomores Tye Auton and Jacob Hinton.
Indian Creek transfer Blake Andrews, a sophomore, also is expected to challenge for a starting position.
The Grizzly Cubs open the season in a triangular match against Center Grove and Whiteland at The Legends on April 14.
Even with the loss to graduation of seniors Chandler Mitchell and Kyle Clark, the Woodmen are expected to make another strong showing this season.
Under the direction of 16th-year coach Rick Guipe, Greenwood finished third at last year’s sectional and advanced to the regional, where it placed 13th among 18 teams.
“This will be the first time in nine years we haven’t had a member of the Mitchell family playing for us,” Guipe said. “Corbin, the oldest, Peyton and Chandler were always at the top wrung of the ladder.”
The Woodmen do return senior starters Spencer Jackson and Kaleb Weddle, who are expected to provide team leadership. Also back from last year’s regional qualifying team is senior Ryne Miller.
Greenwood opens the season against Mid-State Conference rival Mooresville on April 16.
Greenwood Christian Academy
For the first time since the 2009-10 season, the Cougars will field a varsity golf team. The head coach is Jim Davis.
For the past three years, Davis has been active in building a middle-school program.
The Cougars’ roster has two sophomores, Jake Wood and Dustin Schriner, and six freshmen, Camden Peters, Alec Elmore, Jared Torp, Jake Cross, Fred Wright and Will McCall.
“Although we’re very young, this group is expected to provide a good pipeline of talent coming up from our middle school,” Davis said. “I think the future looks very bright.”
Greenwood Christian opens the season April 10 against Bethesda Christian.
Second-year coach Kyle Vorhies is searching for answers after losing to graduation Paul Woodworth, his top golfer from a year ago, and freshman Blake Andrews, who has transferred to Franklin.
Varsity returners include seniors Devin Piccione and Jordan Ballinger, and sophomore Max Pugh.
“We will struggle at the beginning of the season, but we’ll have some good intrasquad competition to push each other to get better as the season rolls along,” Vorhies said.
The Braves open the season April 14 against Martinsville and Brown County.
Former Warriors assistant coach coach J.J. Burns has assumed the head coaching duties this season.
Lost to graduation are Devon Coulter and Trent McGuire.
Whiteland finished seventh in the 12-team sectional at Heartland Crossing, where Jacob Lewis carded an 82 and Colton Buck had an 83.
Seniors Lewis and Buck and another, Josh Bowman, are expected to lead the way this season, along with junior Zach Whitaker.
“I’m excited to get the season started,” Burns said. “I think we have a great chance to improve and compete with some of the better teams in our county, conference and sectional.”
Whiteland opens the season April 14 against Center Grove and Franklin at The Legends.