BOURBON – It would be easy to just say Triton had an off year on the gridiron in 2015. But looking deeper, those away from the program knew better things were to come.
Ron Brown and his staff had their hands full, literally, from day one. Having to take over the program just days before the start of fall practice due to John Johns unexpectedly resigning in July, it would be a trial by fire. Brown didn’t have any time to work the hallways, or even gather cell phone numbers.
Doing what he could with the able bodies he could gather, Triton went 2-8 on the year. It opened with a nice 26-20 win against Caston, but found the sledding against some of the state’s finer small schools very difficult. The Trojans mustered just 52 points in six straight losses against the likes of Pioneer, Bremen and Winamac, all of which were ranked in their classes’ Top 10s.
A late win against West Central, 13-12, gave Triton some hope for the future but a big loss against Southwood in the sectional meant work needed to be done.
“Basically, what it comes down to, is that we want to do what’s best for our kids and how to maximize them as athletes,” Brown said. “We have high expectations. We had a lot of great athletes last year but not a lot of great football players. You can chalk that up to a lot of kids coming out for football for the first time. Not playing until their senior year, mainly because we really needed people to play. They rallied to help us, but when it comes down to it, when you don’t have that football savvy, what happened is a product of that.”
Brown, now in his second year, is fully anticipating more response from his roster against what will probably still be a very tough schedule. Gone is virtually all of the offense from last year’s club. Triton, which established itself as a run-first program, ran for almost 1,300 yards last season, but graduated 1,237 of those yards, including its top four rushers. Jeremy Jones had 912 of the ground gainers, and joined by Jordan Anderson’s 228 yards, the two scored all 13 rushing touchdowns.
Anderson didn’t throw much in his first year at quarterback, just 20-43 for 129 yards and one touchdown.
To bring those numbers back up, several new faces and those with a little experience will be called upon once again. Sophomore Ethan Berry got into six games and had six carries for 25 yards. Junior Max Slusser also had a few touches on the ball, taking 10 carries for 12 yards. Brown also points to sophomore Bo Snyder, who spelled Anderson at quarterback, as someone who could rapidly improve. Snyder was 7-29 for 83 yards and a touchdown but, per Brown, has grown quite a bit on and off the field.
Jones was the biggest defensive piece lost, contributing 94 tackles and a sack last season. Stichter, Slusser and Snyder all should help out the defense on the outside. Seniors Braden Kreft and Adam Stevens should help out the Trojan lines as could junior Vince Helton.
“I think we’ll do a variety of things, and feel the coaching staff is skilled enough to put our athletes in a position to gain the yards we need to be competitive on Friday night,” Brown said.
Added the head coach, “We have to replace the roster with sheer numbers,” noting a high point of 63 during offseason workouts. “I think having kids to compete against each other on the team will help with our focus, and we should see an improved product on the field on Friday nights.”
Triton opens the regular season Aug. 19 on the road at Caston.