Indian River rolls through Decatur
Indian River football has managed to outscore their Washington High opponents 99-6 in the past two years, though, head coach Jim Bunting is determined not to let the comforting scores get the best of his players this Friday, Sept. 19, as the Indians host the Princess Anne, Md., team.
“I don’t have a problem with swagger,” he said at a practice following the team’s 17-14 win over Stephen Decatur. “You just can’t get cocky. I tell the guys not get to a place where you think you’re pretty good, because that’s where you’re going to start slipping.”
Last Friday, the Indians traveled to Decatur, scoring a come-from-behind touchdown from a 97-yard drive in the closing seven minutes of the game. Smart, quick throws from freshman quarterback Jamie Jarmon and powerful pushes on the ground set up a Tyree Oliver touchdown to give the win to the green-and-gold.
“When you’re in that situation, there’s no choice,” said Bunting. “You don’t go down to kick a field goal. You work that drive to score a touchdown, and we did just that.”
Everything this season has been coming together, as the Indians advance to 2-0.
“The guys are playing as a team,” Bunting added, “and just as much credit needs to go to the offense as the defense. The guys on ‘D’ stepped up when they needed, and it helps that we have a great following. Our fans didn’t need to come all the way down there, but they did, and that kind of support really helps.”
The running game is by no means something to be taken lightly, but their new, developing QB is quickly fining his comfort zone in the pocket.
“We started off sort of spoon-feeding our freshmen,” noted Bunting, “but Jamie [Jarmon] is fitting in just fine. He understands that we don’t need to throw the 90-yard passes to get the job done. He’s getting the stuff we need on 3rd-and-7 to get us a first [down], and he’s putting it right on the button. He’s learning to soften up the play with these little passes, and he’s noticing that it’s working.
“As he emerges, teams aren’t going to be able to put eight or nine in the box against him,” said Bunting. Much of his performance, the coach noted, is derived from his positive character and attitude, constantly remaining upbeat through huddles and providing encouragement.
“He walks up there with an air of confidence,” Bunting said. “He exhibits the other players’ confidence with a smile on his face. That says a lot, especially when he’s encouraging the seniors. It shows he has experience beyond his years, or certainly a maturity.”
The win was a welcome one for the IR coach, against the Maryland powerhouse.
“I take nothing from Decatur,” he said. “They’ll definitely win their share of ball games this year. Their program is consistent and effective. Our guys are just coming out and showing determination.”
The heart of the players is coming from both sides of the line of scrimmage, according to Bunting.
“As you get into the game, you get that second wind that drives you, but you also get into the overall feel of the game,” he said. “The guys are tackling well. Rocky Whitley was outweighed by 50 pounds, and he goes after his guy and never stopped until the whistle blew.”
This Friday, as the Indians host Washington at 7:30 p.m., rushing from running back Elijah Foreman is questionable, following a sprained ankle injury against Decatur.
“It’s nothing serious,” said Bunting, “but we’re not sure what we’ll do yet.”
Running backs Cody Cooke and Oliver will be the primary workers on the ground on Friday, as they picked up 42 and 41 yards in the Decatur game, respectively. Returning from the injury reports are defensive end and tight end Jake Mitchell, and center Ken Kelly, whose deep shoulder bruise has inhibited his role snapping the points-after-touchdowns (PATs). Fullback and middle linebacker Cory Showalter will also be helping out the Indians.
Washington, under a new coach this year, will likely provide Indian River with a chance to try out some plays, in preparation for their upcoming, back-to-back conference match-ups against Delmar and Woodbridge.
“We want to do some things that will help us look ahead,” said Bunting. “There are some kids sitting in the shadows, and we don’t know where they are. We’re hoping we’ll have the opportunity to see them under the Friday-night lights.”