PENDLETON — Every football season has a new challenge, and this season for the Pendleton Heights football team is no exception.
The Arabians have slots to fill after the graduation of 25 seniors, several who are now in college programs.
However, the team still has another group of seniors ready to play and ready to lead.
“We have a small senior class of 13,” Coach Jed Richman said, “but we have a record number of kids in our 9-12 program.”
Despite the relative youth and inexperience, Richman said the locker room culture and the atmosphere at practice is high quality.
“While we’re not at our potential yet, the kids are working hard and are a lot of fun to be around,” Richman said.
Senior Luke Candiano returns as the starting quarterback for the Arabians.
Last season, Candiano passed for more than 800 yards. He threw 11 touchdowns and had just three interceptions for the year.
A returning target for Candiano is senior receiver Marvin Jones. As a junior, Jones put up more than 100 yards receiving for the Arabians.
Senior Will Kaster started all of last season and returns in the tight end slot.
Protecting the quarterback on the offensive line will be returnees senior Derek Louder and junior Sam Mossoney.
“Other than that,” Richman said. “It’s all new, but everyone has played.”
Richman said the Arabians do have youth on their side with the numbers of junior, sophomores and freshmen who have come out to play.
He added that even some other seniors are adding their name to the mix.
“Senior Ethan Ross has done a real nice job at running back, and Reese Reddington has done a real nice job at receiver. We’re competing it out,” Richman said.
On the defensive end, the Arabians have a lot of youth and not near as much experience.
Ross and Kaster will play both ways.
Richman said senior Skylar Altherr at linebacker has shown a lot of promise for the Arabians.
Another senior, Jake Ehrgott, who started some at receiver last year will play safety this season.
“There’s names that you’ve seen out there before, but then there’s a whole lot of youth and inexperience,” Richman said. “They’re working really hard and pushing each other, but at the same time, they don’t know what they don’t know.”
The Arabians faced a tough Mooresville team in a scrimmage Aug. 13. The Pioneers are ranked 15th in the Class 4A preseason polls.
“(Friday) night was a rude awakening for our inexperience. They are a championship caliber team. It was a great opportunity for our program, but unfortunately a little baptism by fire,” Richman said. “We got better (Friday), and that will help us for Mississinewa.”
Richman said the Arabians know what to do, and it’s a matter of practice to get there.
“That sounds like coach talk, but it’s really what it comes down to. We need more time, and we need more practice. There are no days off.”
The Arabians open at home with Mississenewa on Friday, Aug. 20, and then travel to rival Anderson the following week.
From there they go right in to Hoosier Heritage Conference play.
The HHC schedule is as competitive as ever.
Richman said it’s exciting but also nerve-racking in ways, but he goes back to the philosophy guiding the program: “Trust the Process.”
“Trusting the day-to-day work is what gets you prepared. The wins and losses are a byproduct of how much you improve each week,” he said.
Richman said HHC foe Delta will be no easy task, and with the new coach at Shelbyville working to turn the Golden Bears program around, the Arabians have their work cut out for them for every game.
“We’re chasing greatness, that’s for sure, and trying to get better day by day.”
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2021 Pendleton Heights Football Roster
24;Cliffton Van Duyn;11;WR/DB
Head coach: Jed Richman
Assistant coaches: Tom Huth, Brandon Jessie, Cole Robison, Michael Joyce, Jay Ehrgott, Curt Trout, Ryan Jones, Ben McArdle, Ronnie Thomas
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2021 Pendleton Heights Football Schedule
Aug. 20;vs. Mississinewa;7:30 p.m.
Aug. 27;at Anderson;7 p.m.
Sept. 3;vs. New Castle;7:30 p.m.
Sept. 10;vs. Greenfield-Central;7:30 p.m.
Sept. 17;at New Palestine;7 p.m.
Sept. 24;at Mt. Vernon;7 p.m.
Oct. 1;vs. Delta;7:30 p.m.
Oct. 8;at Yorktown;7:30 p.m.
Oct. 15;vs. Shelbyville;7:30 p.m.
Oct. 22;at Sectional;7 p.m.