INDIANAPOLIS – Heading into last Saturday’s game, Gibson Southern head coach Nick Hart knew that knocking off class 6a Southport would be a tall order for his class 3a Titans. However, he and his team welcomed the challenge. Hart said he was “excited” for the opportunity to compete against Southport.
Hart added, “We are going to find out so much about our team on Saturday and that is something that will make us better for the second half of the season and playoffs”. The Titans didn’t simply head to South Indianapolis to lay down and take a beating. Hart prepared his team to compete and win like any other game. The Titans did compete! Gibson Southern the much smaller school, with inferior athletes to Southport gave the Cardinals all they could handle until the final second. Southport was able to hold off the Titans to win 43-35.
Though the Titans would’ve love to come home victorious, Hart understands how a game like this prepares you for the ultimate goal, a state championship. Playing tougher opponents can and will expose you, and that is what Hart understood. “I think that you practice better when you play great programs and they will expose personnel, scheme or technique issues that you have”. Hart added, “I’d rather go 6-3 or something and be prepared for the playoffs than 9-0 and only tested a couple of times”.
Gibson Southern participated in a team camp with Southport and with both teams having an opening during week four in 2019, the two programs settled on a home and away agreement. Gibson Southern also added class 6A Columbus North and Owensboro (KY) to their 2020 schedule. “Moving forward there has been some conference shake-up here and it has given us some more open dates,” Hart said.
A program that has experienced a ton of success in recent years is excited about this season’s tournament chances. Like many teams in the state, there oftern seems to be that one team standing in the way. That team has been Evansville Memorial. With the Tigers now competing in class 4A due to the IHSAA tournament success factor, Gibson Southern has their eyes set on claiming the eluded sectional championship. Hart recognizes the sectional still has its fair share of good competition despite Memorial’s departure. “I’m not much into ranking but we currently have three teams ranked in the top 10 in our sectional” and “Heritage Hills has a ton back from a great 10-1 team and Southridge has reloaded like great programs do”.
Hart believes he has a team capable of making a deep run this year. Led by sensational sophomore quarterback Brady Allen. When asked about the improvement of his signal-caller from last year to now, Hart thinks his guy has made big strides. “I think anytime you get a year under your belt at quarterback, you’re going to take a big step forward” Allen who is rising star on the national recruiting scene has added several division one scholarships to his resume. Being such a mature young man for his age, Allen is able to grasp the task at hand and put the recruiting stuff on the shelf for now. “My main focus has been this season. I still have three years until college, so mainly just focusing on this season and high school” Allen said. “To be playing in Lucas Oil Thanksgiving weekend is the goal”.
The nucleus surrounding Allen has coach Hart excited the most. Mitchel Spindler a returning starter at running back is an offensive threat to opposing defenses, rushing and as a credible receiver. Leading the way for this duo is returning all-conference lineman Braden Tucker. Hart mentioned Ben Butler and Seth DeLong as key offensive contributors. Anchoring the Titan defense is lineman Macray Robinson, linebacker Max Beadles, and defensive back Colton Stefanich.
There were a few bright spots in last week’s loss at Southport. The offense moved the ball and quarterback Brady Allen was solid in a 280 yard, 3 touchdown effort. Not the outcome against the Cardinals the Titans wanted. However, it was exactly what coach Hart expected. His team got better.