Indian River football committed to a bounce-back season in 2018

DAGSBORO – The Indian River High football squad faced a couple of issues during its one-win campaign in 2017.

The squad won its first game of the season – a 21-20 upset of Glasgow High – before dropping nine in a row to finish the regular season campaign with a 1-9 record.

The Indians battled through injuries and was unable to keep up the commitment and dedication to the team through its nine-game losing streak to cap the season.

According to Indians’ head coach Phil Townsend, this year’s players haven’t had any problems with commitment to the team so far this preseason.

Head coach Phil Townsend leads a handful of his players toward the sideline prior to last September’s 2017 season-opening win over Glasgow. IR looks to improve upon last year’s 1-9 season (Sussex Post/Ben Heck).

“The kids know that we’re better than how we performed last year, they know we’re a better team than what we showed last year,” Townsend said of the one-win season.

“They know it and they’re hungry, so this off-season one of the things we talked about as a staff is having kids who are committed. That’s been our main focus – ‘are you committed or are you interested?’ A kid who is committed is going to come to everything, while a kid who is interested is going to show up when he wants to show up.”

So far, the commitment has shown through in practice.

“Practice has been great so far,” Townsend added. “We just had our first scrimmage Friday night against Stephen Decatur, so we were able to get eight practices in before our first scrimmage and the kids started out committed from the first day. This group of kids I have is very committed, we have a strong group this year, so it’s been really fun.”

Earlier this week Townsend announced his five team captains for the season: seniors Reshawn Turner and Zach Schultz and juniors Richard Rybicki, Thomas Moore and Ramond Turner.

In order to be named a captain for Indian River’s football program, you must do five things:

“They have to have so many workouts completed over the summer, they can’t have any discipline infractions the previous school year, they have to have so many passing credits, they have to write a letter to coaches explaining why they should be a captain and then the fifth thing is to basically just sign their life away to me for the next 10 weeks,” Townsend said of the captain selection process.

“The five things they need to do in order to be a captain kind of allows me to set a foundation. Kids don’t always know how to be leaders, sometimes you have to groom them and show them how to be leaders. I think these five guys are guys who have been committed all summer, they’ve been in the weight room, all the different events we’ve had, they’re committed to the program and that’s what we’re looking for.”

After impressing in Friday night’s scrimmage, it looks to be Ian Shaner who is poised to win the starting quarterback job heading into September’s season-opener.

“Senior quarterback Ian Shaner has kind of stepped in and taken over and right now so far, so good,” Townsend said of the quarterback battle. “He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do and he had a very positive scrimmage against Stephen Decatur on Friday.”

While Shaner appears to be the favorite, it’s still a four-player battle for the full-time starting gig.

“Tyler Bowen, he’s a sophomore quarterback, freshman quarterback Reece Stone and another sophomore quarterback Reagan Dunn, so right now we have four guys battling for the starting spot. We’ve kind of narrowed it down to Ian and Tyler at this point and the other two guys are basically fighting for the J.V. spot,” said Townsend.

After a season-ending injury in the third quarter of Week 1 last season, Jacob Anderson is back in action and excited about the upcoming season at running back.

“I have a senior running back, Jacob Anderson, who in our first game last year he had an explosive game but unfortunately he had a season-ending injury in the third quarter. Losing him last year was tough, but he’s a great athlete and he’s real excited for the season,” Townsend said.

Behind Anderson, even with the loss of Kevin Custis due to transfer, Townsend says he has plenty of depth at the running back position.

“We have senior Reshawn Turner at fullback, he’s been a four-year starter for us and is a great player,” he said. “We’ll have Anderson at the halfback position, we’ll have A.J. Bordeau, a junior, at the halfback position. We’ll have Nicholas Angelo, as a junior, at the halfback position. Ta’Jon Knight, a junior, will also be at halfback. These guys have been playing since they’re freshman year, and that’s what’s exciting.”

Jalen Snead also transferred out, but with Shaner, Bowen, Stone and Dunn on the QB depth chart, the transfer losses won’t put too big of a dent in IR’s 2018 roster.

“The great thing about it, losing those two guys – they were great players and were two-year starters for me – but the guys behind them who were fighting for a spot last year are going to be juniors this year.”

Indian River will scrimmage Sussex Tech Thursday, Aug. 30 before opening up the 2018 regular season against Glasgow Friday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m.

Sports Editor Ben Heck can be reached at bheck@newszap.com.

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