Carroll coach Doug Dinan enters this season with a team that has begun to grasp and understand his way of operating. He's led the Chargers to an increase in wins each of his first two seasons and has a strong senior class capable of continuing that upward trend.
Defense should be the strong point early for the Chargers.
News-Sentinel: What are some of the expectations at Carroll this season?
Dinan: Our expectation is that they work as hard as they can and they unite and build total synergy between all of them, have unity within the team and the wins and the losses will take care of themselves.
News-Sentinel: Do you feel this is a good step forward as you try to build the program?
Dinan: We've made great progress in the development of young talent going into our third year with this staff and these players. I think we have made great progress in establishing ourselves.
News-Sentinel: Who are some of the key players with experience for you?
Dinan: Key guys in the backfield – we have Jimmy Crumley returning at running back, Skyler Piepho at wide receiver, a couple offensive linemen with Josh Colbourne at tackle, Clayton Ostermeyer and Tyler Zaegel both on the offensive line. Those five returning on offense. We have eight returners on defense. Three on the defensive line: tackles Zach Fittro, Tyler Hands at defensive end, Taylor Goshen at tackle. Three of our four linebackers are returners in Drue Tranquill at outside linebacker, Matt Melchi and Ross Koble on the inside. We moved one of our outside line backers back to safety, Andy Noll, and Alex Crabill back at corner. There are three spots we have to fill. Jimmy Crumley will probably fill some time at corner. Outside linebacker as it stands now is Mitchell Olney, who also a senior, be seeing time.
News-Sentinel: Defensively that's a good base.
Dinan: Defensively, we do. There's a lot of experience, a lot of senior leadership, a lot of guys who have had a lot of time.
News-Sentinel: Is there anything in particular you are trying to change or expand on as far as your schemes go?
Dinan: No, scheme-wise, we're staying the same. It's just a complete understanding. We like to blitz defensively. That's our mindset. We're just continuing to install and change and adapt to our 4-4 package. Offensively, we're still the same, an I-formation team that runs a lot out of the spread formation and shotgun, still with our I-formation principles.
News-Sentinel: You're in a very difficult conference in the NHC. What are your thoughts about that this year and are we looking at some of the same teams being tough to play?
Dinan: Absolutely. Homestead, by far, is the top dog in the conference, and until somebody knocks them off, they're always the team to go after. New Haven continually is good. East Noble will be good. They have a lot of returning young guys who are returning. It is a tough conference. Every week, teams like Bellmont, Norwell, everybody is ready to play.
News-Sentinel: What are your thoughts on the idea of the IHSAA adding a sixth class next season?
Dinan: As of right now, I'm mixed on my feelings. What it does and their intent is, schools from 2,000 to 1,500 that will be 5A schools have an opportunity to win a state championship. Is that good for us? I don't know because reclassification doesn't come out until winter. We're right on the bubble. We could be on the top of 5A or on the bottom of 6A. If we're on the top of 5A, we like it. If we're on the bottom of 6A, then it hasn't changed our perspective on where we were at previously. With the exception of maybe six state championships, all of the state championships since 1986 have come from Indianapolis and Penn High School. Warren Central, Ben Davis, Carmel, Penn – all the state championships have come from those schools. I think the intent is to incorporate and include more for championships and to experience the winning.