Carmel High School football coach Kevin Wright wants to make sure he has as many weapons at his disposal as possible.
That means senior Isaac James might do a whole lot more than play quarterback this season.
“What we want to do is get our best players on the field,” Wright said.
“What Isaac does is gives us that ability whether it’s at quarterback, running back, receiver, defensive back and kick returner. I think you’ll probably see him at all of those and maybe in the same game.”
Junior quarterback Michael Viktrup‘s continued development has allowed James to play other spots. In addition, Wright said it helps that there is more depth in the offensive line than in the past couple of years.
The Greyhounds have two experienced running backs in seniors Shakir Paschall and Chris Perkins.
Other potential playmakers are junior receiver John Ramsey, sophomore running back/receiver Jalen Walker and sophomore receiver Ethan Merriweather.
“We have more overall team speed on offense at the different positions,” Wright said. “I think it’s not a matter of getting one particular guy ‘X’ amount of touches. Based on what the defense is doing to us, we want to exploit that. We feel we have some different guys that have the ability to do that besides Isaac.”
The 5-11 James, who is being recruited as a receiver or defensive back, is focusing on offers from Indiana, Northwestern, Wisconsin and Missouri. James, who has been timed in 4.40 seconds in the 40-yard dash and has a 36 1/2-inch vertical jump, ran for 922 yards and passed for 282 for the Class 6A state runner-up Greyhounds last season.
Football players increase
The number of high school students playing football increased nationally for the first time in five years.
According to the annual survey release by the Indianapolis-based National Federation of State High School Associations, there were 6,607 more boys playing 11-player football (some states permit smaller numbers) in 2013-14 than the previous season. There also was an increase of 184 girls playing football (totaling 1,715) from the previous season.
“With the precautions that are in place nationwide to address concussions in all high school sports, including football, we have maintained the risk of injury is as low as it has ever been,” NFHS executive director Bob Gardner said. “Certainly, this rise in football numbers is a confirmation of those beliefs and indicates the strong continued interest nationwide in high school football.”
Overall the number of high school athletes increased for the 25th consecutive year with a record total of almost 7.8 million, an increase of more than 82,000 from the previous year.
Appeal pending for LC players
Lawrence Central senior defensive lineman Eric Whitehead (Virginia Tech commit) and senior running back James Gilbert (Ball State commit) are awaiting an eligibility decision by the Indiana Case Review Panel.
The Indiana High School Athletic Association had ruled Whitehead and Gilbert transferred from Tech for athletic reasons and denied eligibility for this season. Both players appealed through the IHSAA process and Gilbert was granted eligibility, starting after the fifth game this season.
Senior defensive lineman Damon Cobb, another Tech transfer to Lawrence Central, also was denied eligibility. He is awaiting a decision through the IHSAA appeals process.
All three players, who can practice with Lawrence Central, could have returned to Tech and retained eligibility when the decision was made last winter but chose to stay at Lawrence Central.
Roncalli senior running back Colin McManama is expected to miss the entire season after tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament during the first official week of practice. McManama led the Rebels with 1,351 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns last season. Nate Fries is slated to start at tailback in his place when the Rebels open at Southport on Friday night. … Start time for Friday’s Tri-Central-Lapel game has been pushed back 30 minutes to 7:30 p.m. due to the expected hot temperatures. There will also be an extended 20-minute halftime.
Call Star reporter Mark Ambrogi at (317) 444-6047. Follow him on Twitter: @mark_ambrogi