Peebles will field gridiron squad for 2017 season –
By Mark Carpenter –
It’s been a long time since a Peebles Indian has stepped foot on a high school football field, 38 years to be exact, but that is soon to change. For the first time since the 1979-80 season, Peebles will be fielding a varsity-level football squad, competing in the Southern Ohio Independent League (SOIL), along with fellow Adams County teams West Union and North Adams.
Peebles will be following a less than normal path with the restart of their football program, beginning with a team at the high school level, with plans later to add Pee-Wee and junior high programs, according to Shawn Hudgel, President of the newly-formed Peebles Football League.
“I’m waiting two years to start at the lower levels because that’s such a hard level to get everything started financially, “ said Hudgel. “We’ve worked really hard the past year raising money and we are proud to say that we are going into this season debt-free. I hope to start both Pee-Wee and junior high two years from now.”
Last week was a five-day conditioning program for the fledgling Indians, battling some stifling heat along the way, and usually having around 20 boys grades 9-12 present at the workouts.
“I think our kids are doing well so far, for a group of kids who have never played the sport,” says Hudgel. “They are adapting and conditioning makes them work. We have a lot of kids who don’t play any other competitive sport and that makes all of our work worthwhile for me. We started with 24 boys but lost a few, maybe nerves or something, but we will encourage them to come back.”
“Our goal is of course to see all our programs sanctioned by the school district to become part of the Ohio High School Athletic Association.”
The new Indians football squad will be led by head coach Bobby Sandlin, who most recently could be seen on the sidelines with the junior high program in West Union. He will be assisted by defensive coordinator Ben West, and assistants Jimmie Whitley, Michael Sowards, and Ted Wesley, who was a member of the Indians’ football team in the mid-1970’s.
“These kids really want to play football,” said Coach Sandlin. “They have shown a lot of heart out here in this heat and I think we will be a team with some speed, but position assignments are still really just up in the air until we start actual practices. We need to install our offense and defense and we will really need to stress fundamentals with so many inexperienced players. Our ultimate goal is of course to have everyone act as a cohesive unit.”
“The majority of our kids are freshmen, with just four seniors, but we have some numbers coming up in the next couple of years that will certainly help.”
One of the freshman Indians is Easton Wesley, who can be described as a multi-sport athlete as he also plays baseball and basketball, and now will be adding football to his ledger, something he is quite excited to be doing.
“I’m very excited about football coming back to Peebles,” said Easton. “ My Dad (Ted) played football for Peebles his sophomore and junior years and he was real excited when they said football was coming back. I’ve always loved football but I never thought it would come to Peebles.”
On of the big proponents of football in the county is Scott McFarland, who has done an outstanding job reviving football in West Union, and McFarland is happy to see the game expanding.
“I am very excited to see football growing in Adams County,” said McFarland. “Young people need opportunities to be involved in positive things and we have seen a bunch of kids over the past few years getting involved that don’t normally participate in sports, which is great for our communities.”
“The Peebles leadership team has done a great job of developing the program and though it may not be ideal to start at the high school level, they have been smart about scheduling local teams to be competitive. We have received a lot of requests from high school kids in Peebles that want to play football before their school experience is over. Today, we have a place for elementary and junior high kids from Peebles to play, at either North Adams or West Union, and now their high school students can play football. It will be exciting to see the Peebles program expand to the elementary and junior high levels in due time.”
The 2017 Peebles Indians gridiron gang will be holding their practices at the Methodist Church on Measley Ridge Road and playing their games at Freedom Field in West Union. The new Indians will open their season on Aug. 26, facing the Southern Buckeye Warriors from the Eastern Brown school district.