New-look Cards to fly into season opener

Revitalized football team looks to score first victory tonight


Madelyn Knight

Sophomore quarterback Eddie Schott looks to pass the ball in the scrimmage against Decatur Central on Aug. 13. Schott will be the starting quarterback tonight against Roncalli.

Michael Long, Reporter

Tonight at 7:00, the SHS varsity football team will take the field at Perry Stadium and battle the Roncalli Rebels. It will be the first game of the 2016-2017 season and the first game under the leadership of new head coach, Brandon Winters.

The SHS football team has gotten a small makeover this year. Aside from Winters, SHS has four new assistant coaches: Matt Taylor, Julian Walker,  Ralston Evans and Johnny Towalid. The Cardinals will also be featuring a new key addition to the lineup, sophomore quarterback Eddie Schott.

It will be Schott’s duty to replace former SHS quarterback Luke Johnston, who graduated with the class of 2016. Johnston led the Cardinals to Regionals twice, and to the second round of sectionals in the 2015-2016 season. The sophomore quarterback says  that Johnston will be hard to follow up.

“It will be pretty tough because he was just a great quarterback and he set a lot of records,” Schott said.  “I have big shoes to fill.”

Schott helped lead his team to an undefeated season his freshman year. According to Schott, the atmosphere that comes along with playing in a varsity game is a completely different level. He even admits to being a little nervous.

“The players are a lot bigger and it’s just a lot more complex,” Schott said.

Schott says he really likes what Winters is doing with the team and mentioned that Winters adds a funny aspect to every practice. Aside from being “awesome and funny,” as Schott said,  this being his 12th season as a coach at SHS, Winters is also experienced. He’s new to head coaching, but he’s definitely no rookie to coaching the game of football.

His first two years he coached the freshmen team, then he moved up on the totem pole of coaching and became a varsity assistant and then eventually, the  defensive coordinator. Now, Winters has obtained the varsity head coach position, but to him, football is football.

“The football part is the same,” Winters said, “The biggest difference is doing all the administrative tasks like paperwork, emails, making sure buses are organized. Things like that.”

Being a head coach means Winters has to be educated about his opponent. His 12 years coaching at SHS certainly helps him see how other schools play and how SHS plays against them. According to Winters, games between the Cardinals and the Rebels always have been quite competitive.

“The games have been close, usually it’s within a touchdown or two,” Winters said, “(The Rebels)  are very well coached. They’re very fundamentally sound. Basically,  whoever makes the most mistakes in that game usually loses and the last couple of years we’ve made a few less mistakes than them but they’re a very competitive team and it’s a very tough opening game.”

Roncalli has stacks of records and trophies to show for their competitive nature. For instance, Roncalli made it to semi-state last season, and they won their second straight sectional title (18th in the program’s history). They also have 100 post-season wins under their belt. Stats like those certainly can make for a tough season opener.

However, Roncalli is  facing  a similar situation  to  SHS as  their star quarterback, Robbie Strader, graduated last school year. Strader had three school records for Roncalli. He will be replaced by either Derek O’Connor, Connor Gore or Alex Volk according to the roster has listed for the 1026-2017 Roncalli varsity team.

Tonight is the night to showcase the start of a new season, with new coaches and new players for SHS’s varsity football team.