ELKHART — There's a sense of urgency for Jimtown's football team this season.
A veteran team is looking to erase the disappointment left from a 21-14 loss to Knox in first round sectional play. That defeat marked the first time that the Jimmies program had failed to win an opening round sectional game.
"This group of seniors has always been a hard working group," said Jimtown coach Mike Campbell. "I think they have a chip on their shoulders because they didn't finish some games last year. I think (the seniors) want (success) bad because they know this is it.
"What I like about this team is that they're a great group of kids that really like each other. They work hard and want to get better. Our thing is that we're not really deep so we have to stay healthy. That means that we have to be smart about how we play and how long we play certain people.
"On both sides of the ball we have a lot of kids that have experience. Even the kids that played JV last year got a lot of reps in (on the varsity). So we've got a lot of four-year high school players that have been waiting to play on the varsity or have played on the varsity in the past. They understand their role and know what to do. It all comes down to executing at the end of the day. We've got a good group of guys on both sides of the ball that can do that."
Providing experience at quarterback with be senior Clay Campbell – Mike's son. Clay completed 58-of-96 passes for 840 yards with nine touchdowns. He also rushed for 141 yards on 41 carries with four touchdowns.
"More than anything we'll be relying on his running ability," Mike Campbell said. "He's going to have to run the ball a little bit. He's a big guy and he's done a nice job (in practice) running the ball.
At running back, Jimtown will start the season without senior Trey Washington, who rushed for 831 yards on 142 carries with eight touchdowns. Washington suffered a torn ACL playing basketball last year.
"We'll probably miss him for the first part of the season," Mike Campbell said. "He's rehabbing nicely and eager to get back. It's one of those things where we don't want to rush it because if you rush those things too fast we'll lose him all together. He's had a great attitude about it. He's bringing his hard hat and coming to work. He wants to get back as soon as he can."
A group of running backs are being counted on to pick up the slack while Washington is on the sidelines. Sharing those carries with be junior Ethan Devol, senior Casey Pratt, senior Oscar Zelaya and junior Cole Thompson. Devol rushed for 430 yards on 87 carries with six touchdowns.
"Our running backs have been doing a good job," Mike Campbell said.
A veteran group of linemen will be blocking. Leading that unit will be senior All-State center Blake Garretson, who's a three-year starter. Working with Garretson will be seniors AJ Schneider, Quinton Svetanoff, Jacob Koets and Mason Havens, along with junior Yvens Reisaker and senior tight end Tony Pletcher. Pletcher caught nine passes for 96 yards a year ago.
At wide receiver, senior Dustin Whitman is coming off a season where he caught 22 passes for 386 with four touchdowns. Also looking to make an impact in the passing game are senior Brandon Coble and sophomore Johntu Reed.
Wing backs are also part of the offense. Candidates to contribute at that position are seniors Jake Werts, Andrew Cortez and Thad Pratt.
"We have a power-wing and a fast-wing," Mike Campbell said. "We're able to run a couple of packages because of the experience we have coming back. We've got some stuff out of the gun, stuff from under the center and stuff out of the three-back, one-back and two-back packages.
"It's nice to try to mix things up, but still try to control the tempo and control the ball because if we get into track meets we're going to be in trouble."
Defensively, Jimtown allowed only 16 points-a-game and there's plenty of talent back from that unit.
Up front will be Koets, Svetanoff, Reisaker, Schneider, Pletcher and junior Hunter Hoffman. Behind them at linebacker are Thad Pratt and Thompson, while key players in the secondary are Campbell, Whitman, Coble and Marcus Lange. Campbell had 46 tackles and two interceptions. Svetanoff finished with 28 tackles, while Whitman had 21 and Reisaker had 17.
"They've been in the system," Mike Campbell said about his defenders. "Yvens has been starting since he was a freshman. It's nice to have that experience back. Now, it's all about putting it all together and getting the job done at the most critical moments."
Clay Campbell will also contribute on special teams as the punter. He had a 35-yard average on kicks last season.
Jimtown finished 4-2 in the Northern Indiana Conference South Division last year, which tied them for second place with South Bend Riley and a game back of Bremen and Marian.
"At the top of the list this year in the conference has to be Marian," Mike Campbell said. "They have a veteran offensive line. (Coach) Mike (Davidson) has done a nice job over there. Riley has a big, physical team and their quarterback (Senator Brown) is back."
2018: 5-5 (4-2 NIC South)
Aug. 23: at NorthWood
Aug. 30: at SB Washington
Sep. 6: at Elkhart Central
Sep. 13: John Glenn
Sep. 20: Marian
Sep. 27: at Concord
Oct. 4: SB Riley
Oct. 11: Bremen
Oct. 18: at SB Clay