Under second-year head coach Michael Kelly, Hamilton Southeastern has eclipsed six wins for the first time since 2016. As the regular season draws to a close and the IHSAA tournament looms large, safety Cole Earlewine and linebacker Jackson Constantine believe the Royals can make a serious postseason run.
“I feel our team’s drive to change the program at HSE is what can lead us to a run into Thanksgiving weekend,” Earlewine said. “This team led by Coach Kelly has been one of our most dominant teams in a long time. We feel that is because of the constant competition we have each and every day at practice. Also, we feel we are the most physically prepared team HSE as Coach Kelly has made the weight room a big priority.”
“We are prepared to play our game and let God take care of the rest,” Constantine said. “I think that our team has a great chance of making it to state because we have a great senior class. I am proud to say that our senior class has a lot of great leaders for our team and I think that that will take our team to the next level.”
Running back Blaine Wertz will be a key weapon for the Royals offensively in their upcoming game v. Franklin Central on Friday night. The 5’8 175 tailback for the Royals has racked up 740 yards and 11 touchdowns, eclipsing his numbers from last season. Franklin Central will also have to account for Owen Jones, another running back in the Royals’ rushing attack. Jones has enough top-end speed to go the distance on any play. Blocking up front for the two seniors will be led by Jack Greer, a 6’3 290 senior who holds 10 Division I offers. Senior tight end Will Gerig (6’4 210) will also be a factor in the running game.
“He is very powerful which makes opposing teams load the box which allows them to take shots down field,” Franklin Central wide receiver Bryan Marshall said of Wertz. “We always prepare for teams by watching film. And this week we’ve added new plays to our playbook to hopefully catch HSE off guard. We have improved a lot this year in each and every way.”
But the Flashes have some weapons of their own including in the running game. Aataevon Jordan, a 5’10 215, has 178 carries for 1,001 yards and eight touchdowns on the season. Backing up Jordan is sophomore Braylen Gillard (6’1 185) who is one of the state’s rising prospects sure to garner college attention.
“He is a very big and athletic back that is very hard to bring down when he gets downhill,” Earlewine said of Jordan. “He also has the most touches in the state so their team relies on him for a large portion of their offense.”
“He is a big dude with some good speed and is most of their offense,” Constantine said. “If we stop him then we stop Franklin Central.”
Franklin Central is led by freshman quarterback Nevan Tutterow, who looks strong for his age and should blossom into one of the top players in the state for his class. Marshall is a key threat offensively. Defensively, Hudari Hines is a strong 6’2 185 sophomore who already holds an offer from Ball State.