Prep football preseason countdown: #5 CARROLL CHARGERS
Doug Dinan has strung together seven consecutive winning seasons in leading the Carroll High School football program, but 2018 may provide one of his biggest coaching tasks since he took over the program in 2010.
The Chargers have been decimated by both graduation and injury since falling to Snider in the 2017 IHSAA Class 6A Sectional, but Dinan isn’t allowing anyone surrounding the program to hang his head.
“It isn’t one guy,” Dinan explained of the Chargers’ success. “It’s not Doug Dinan coming in and changing the culture. It is people believing in culture, believing in core values, and collectively coming together and work together and that is how it happens.”
That belief and confidence will be necessary to overcome seismic departures on both sides of the ball, but Carroll has evolved into a program that reloads, not rebuilds under Dinan in his nine seasons.
There is no possible way to diminish the graduations of 100-plus receptions from the fabulous Becker boys (Justin and Jonathan), as well as quarterback Jack Miguel (2,400-plus yards and 22 touchdowns), as well as runner Cam Shank (801 yards gained and 11 scores). However, the Chargers are going to try and it starts with Bishop Luers transfer Camdyn Childers, who caught 18 receptions for the Knights as a junior.
He will team with senior Nathan Harrah (17 receptions, 150 yards, three touchdowns) and junior Layton Mitchell (13 receptions).
“Honestly,” Dinan said, “we feel very good about our receiver corps.”
Directing the offense will be former receiver Gaven Vogt.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound athlete caught 30 balls a year ago, so he brings athleticism to the quarterback position.
“He’s always been a quarterback for us,” Dinan said. “Last year, he played receiver because of Jack. But he has done a tremendous job and he throws the ball really well and he runs the ball really well. Both facets of that, we are very confident about.”
It’s a mix of old and young along the frontline, as junior Orion Chenery (6-foot-2, 245 pounds) will play center, while senior Cobey Malcolm (6-foot-1, 280 pounds) and sophomore Reeve Muncie (6-foot-4, 245 pounds) will both play tackle.
“We start three guys that started all season for us along the offensive line,” Dinan said of the aforementioned trio. “Even though you lose some key parts, it’s all about that next guy. It’s about that guy being prepared and is ready to step in.”
The Charger offense carried Carroll at times last season, as the defense allowed at least 34 points on five different occasions. However, that script may flip this season, as Dinan said the defensive front performing at a high level will be imperative for his team to succeed.
“It has to be,” Dinan said of his defensive front is the strength of the unit. “It has to be, without question.”
Senior Terell Griffin (36 tackles, three sacks) will pair with defensive end Bryce Pelkington (24 tackles) and Edmond Johnson to make an impact on opposing offenses.
All are seniors and will have to be leaders, particularly due to the loss of injured senior Jack Tranquill, who is out for the season with a knee injury after making nearly 70 tackles as a junior.
Senior Micah Fretz will lead the linebacking group from the inside.
The back end of the defense is “young and inexperienced,” according to Dinan, but…
“Our secondary is fast,” Dinan said emphatically. “Our secondary is going to fly around the field and be physical at the same time.”
ABOUT THE CHARGERS
2017 record: 7-4
2017 storyline: Seventh consecutive winning season under Dinan, as a deep and talented offense was asked to lift a struggling defense at times.
Coach: Doug Dinan (ninth season)
Jack Tranquill, LB (69 tackles)
Justin Becker, WR (60 receptions, 1,176 yards, 9 TDs)
Jack Miguel, QB (2,476 yards, 22 TDs)
Blake Eley, DB (23 tackles, four INTs)
Jonathan Becker, WR (44 receptions)
Logan Belleville, DB (43 tackles)
Reed Diller, LB (70 tackles, 10 TFLs)
Braxton Gropengieser, LB (47 tackles, 9 TFLs, 3 sacks)
Mason Gynn, DL (30 tackles, 12 TFLs)
Austin Lineback, DL (43 tackles, 7 TFLs)
Cam Shank, RB (801 yards, 11 TDs)
Hudson Walker, DB (25 tackles)