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Gridiron Preview – Are You Ready For Some Football?

In the blink of an eye, the 2023 High School Football season is here. The temperature outside doesn’t quite feel like football weather, but it’s time to lace up the cleats and buckle those chin straps. 

In Week 9 of last year, the Flora Wolves came into Carmi with a 4-4 record, trying to sneak into the playoffs with a win over the 7-1 Bulldogs. They did just that. A last minute touchdown gave the Wolves the upset 30-24 win that pushed them into the playoffs and knocked Carmi out of a chance for a top 5 seed in the 2A bracket. The Bulldogs were then given the 8 seed and a 1st round playoff loss to Athens. 

That was last year, and this is this year.. so what can we expect?

The Bulldogs graduated one of their best senior classes in recent years, losing 10 players who played vital parts to back-to-back playoff seasons. Most notably their 1-2 punch in the backfield with Isaac King and Draxtyn Aud. King and Aud was the two-headed monster in an offense that loved to run the football out of the Wing-T and Power-I formation, which has been a Kurt Simonn staple since he came to Carmi in 1997. However, the 2023 Bulldogs will look a little different offensively. 

It is no secret that the Bulldogs have a handful of athletes at the skill positions, with names like Cade Allen, Noah Pollard, Kade Stockton, Caleb Seibers, Trayton Vickers, Kale Wiggins, and Andrew Dodgson all being very capable of carrying and catching the football. 

Dodgson received the most varsity time last year out of the returners. Last season, he carried the ball 23 times for 270 yards and 4 touchdowns. His production was overshadowed by the domination of King and Aud, but it definitely didn’t go unnoticed. Expect Dodgson to play a fullback/wingback role this season. 

Allen, Pollard and Seibers all saw limited but valuable varsity snaps last season on the offensive side of the ball. Allen and Pollard provide speed and agility to get to the outside while Seibers will look to stay between the tackles and be the true hard nosed running back to the likes of King, Colton Yates, Andrew Burnett, Tyson Russell, Logan Rogers and more. Need a big play? Look for Allen and Pollard. Need 1 yard on 4th down? Give it to Seibers. 

Stockton and Vickers will see their fair share of targets as tight ends. Vickers was a defense-only player last year who led the Bulldog defense in interceptions. Stockton saw little varsity time as a sophomore in a crowded backfield, but he has the speed and athleticism to make an impact in 2023. 

The best way for Kurt Simon to share the ball with all of these playmakers? Spread out the offense, and that is exactly what the Bulldogs will look to do in 2023. 

Landon Driscoll becomes the new quarterback for the Bulldogs after the graduation of Warren Legg. Driscoll switches positions after playing wide receiver for the past 2 seasons, but that hasn’t affected his ability to run an offense and pass the football. In last Friday’s Fall Sports Preview, Driscoll looked solid at the position, completing long passes downfield and making plays with his legs. It will be very interesting and exciting to see how Driscoll fares against another team. 

One factor against the Bulldogs this season will be depth. With only 26 players on the varsity roster, CWC will hope to stay away from the injury bug. 

As far as the Wolves, they will have new names in new places in 2023. In May, they graduated their top 3 leading rushers and their starting quarterback. They do however return their leading receiver from a year ago, Garrett Patridge, who caught 12 passes for 175 yards and 2 touchdowns as a sophomore. Trey Wells also caught 7 passes for 112 yards and 1 touchdown as a junior. Outside of Wells and Patridge, the Wolves return hardly any experience on the offensive side of the ball, something they and Carmi slightly have in common. 

Flora finished the season 5-5 after a 36-20 loss to Johnston City in the 1st Round of the IHSA Playoffs last year. predicts the Bulldogs will win 34-14. 

Kickoff is set for 8 PM. Fans will be able to listen to the game on 97.3 FM WRUL and online at Fans can also watch the game on the WRUL Sports YouTube Channel.


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