If the number of seniors is any indicator – and it often is – Carmi-White County football fans may be in for a pleasant time on Friday nights this fall.
Bulldog head coach Kurt Simon, on the cusp of his 21st season here, previewed his 2017 squad to the Carmi Kiwanis Club Thursday, Aug. 17.
Simon has 15 seniors on his roster, along with 14 juniors, eight sophomores and 14 freshmen. By way of comparison, the 2016 Bulldogs finished the year with just four seniors.
The CWC skipper predicted there will likely be at least nine of those 15 seniors on the field at any one time. And he noted that most of them have been varsity regulars since their sophomore season.
“Any time you can field a bunch of seniors with a lot of experience, that usually bodes well for you,” said Simon, who is the all-time winningest coach at Carmi, touting a record of 126-75 and 14 playoff appearances.
The large number of seniors isn’t the only difference in the 2017 squad compared to the recent past. Simon also expects his team to run the ball a lot more this fall.
“The last three years, we’ve thrown quite a bit because that was the personnel we had,” he said. “This year, I think the strongest part of our team is our offensive line. We average about 245 to 250 pounds on the front. We think they’re going to be able to open a lot of holes this year.”
And running through those holes will be senior running backs Colton Yates, Wyatt Weinbrecht and Bryce Northcott. Junior William Pugsley will be at quarterback.
As far as the Black Diamond Conference goes, “Fairfield is still the crème of the crop,” said Simon. “They tied for the conference last year and return a lot on both sides of the ball. They’ll be tough to beat.
“Eldorado probably has the best player in the conference in Jacob Traxler. I think those two teams will probably in the top tier.
“I’d say we will probably be in the next tier. It should be a good year for competition, which is a good thing.”
Nearly half of the teams in the BDC – Eldorado, Vienna, Christopher-Zeigler-Royalton and Chester – will have new coaches this season, according to Simon. Vienna’s is actually a returning coach, as Mike Rude has come back to coach the Eagles after a stint as head coach of the Morthland College football program.
Simon’s coaching staff includes Clinton Wolff, Kevin Wolff, Jason Craig, Luke Simmons and Marc Stendeback. With the exception of Craig, all are former players for Simon.
“Those guys are very familiar with me and I’m very familiar with them,” said Simon. “It’s a great staff.”
The Bulldogs will open their season on Friday, Aug. 25 at home against Sesser-Valier.