Carmel turns up volume to defend 5A football title
Hip-hop and rock music blares over the speakers at the Carmel High School football stadium. On the field, the offense and defense run through fast-paced no-huddle 11-on-11 drills, play after play at a frenetic pace. Players look to coaches on the sidelines who signal the plays. Communication is difficult with all the noise. Execution is not flawless, but Wednesday was only the third day of practice and the first day for contact in full pads.
"It's like a game day atmosphere," said senior outside linebacker John Kenny, an Iowa recruit. "We have the music loud. It's hard to get the calls. It helps for our conditioning too. We run to the ball every play. That's something we pride ourselves on."
"We want organized chaos most of the time so that they can think and play fast," said head coach Kevin Wright, 23-3 in three seasons at Carmel. "We don't run wind sprints anymore. Everything we do is at a high speed."
"It makes the line calls difficult to understand," said senior offensive guard Matt Sinclair, who has committed to play college football at Western Michigan. "It makes it more live. A lot of it is just knowing what to do without having to talk about it."
The Greyhounds went 14-1 last year on the way to capturing the Class 5A state title. Their only loss came against Warren Central. Carmel avenged that loss in an incredible playoffs sectional win. But the Greyhounds graduated many of the stars from that team. Carmel plays in the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference, arguably the toughest high school league in Indiana. MIC teams have won the Class 5A state football title 10 of the last 11 years.
"This year our defense is actually pretty young," said senior inside linebacker Loukas Sinnis. "We have to really bond together as a team in order to win against these really good teams. We've been practicing really up tempo. It's going to help with our conditioning and being able to keep up with teams that play fast and be ahead of teams that play a little slower offense."
"We're really hungry to repeat," said Sinclair. "We need to leave our legacy this year. We know we've got everyone coming after us."
"I think anything less than a state championship this year would be kind of a disappointment," said Kenny. "I know some younger players got a taste of what it feels like. We really want to get that back."
"We've got some good young players," said Wright. "We've got some seniors who weren't starters last year who have to step into some roles, but are just inexperienced. This is going to be a fun team because I think they will continue to get better and better."
Carmel opens the season August 17th at home against Columbus North.
"We're representing not just our team and the school, but it's our whole town that we put on our shoulders every Friday," said Sinnis.
Operation Football also kicks off on August 17th on Eyewitness News. Dave Calabro will fly to high schools in Chopper 13 for Skylights. The Band of the Week and Cheerleaders of the Week perform live on channel 13.