Multiple Teams · Five County Players To Watch This Football Season

There are 23 days left until the start of the high school football season.

And there is plenty to be excited about at both Shelbyville and Triton Central. Each program has a senior quarterback that knows the playbook from front to back. That traditionally makes for high-scoring offenses.

The playmakers are there too for Shelbyville QB John Lux and Triton Central QB Jordan Crouse.

But for the two programs that combined for 16 wins last season to have success in 2016, filling defensive voids left by graduation are key.

Shelbyville lost defensive linemen Jarrett Mohr (123 tackles), Tyler Gilles (42 tackles) and Alonzo Couch (60 tackles), linebacker Gage Phares (89 tackles) and defensive back Justin Sueko (65 tackles).

Triton Central lost its defensive leader in All-State linebacker Bryan Beauchamp as well as fellow linebacker Logan Kinnett, defensive linemen Randy Crouch and Chase Garrett and defensive back Jeremy Engle.

The Golden Bears and Tigers also must replace their kickers.

Shelbyville’s Ty Johnson is off to kick at DePauw while TC kicker Cole Dewey will begin his soccer career at Georgetown College (Ky.).

The first Friday night action begins on Aug. 12 when Shelbyville hosts Rushville when Triton Central travels to Batesville for preseason scrimmages.

On Aug. 19, Shelbyville hosts Greensburg in the season opener at J.M. McKeand Stadium. Triton Central hosts Indiana Crossroads Conference rival Park Tudor at Bud Mendenhall Field in Fairland.

Until then, here’s a look at five players to watch during the 2016 season.

Shelbyville’s John Lux (6-foot-1, 190-pound senior)

The numbers were impressive in 2015. Lux completed 96-of-169 pass attempts for 1,645 yards and 22 touchdowns — and just four interceptions.

Lux’s numbers are not bolstered by a short passing game. He has the arm strength to get the ball down the field into positions where his receivers can make plays.

His passing yardage last season was a program record despite his attempts being nowhere close to the top-5 in the record book.

That could change this season with the departure of standout running back DeShaun French, who amassed nearly 200 carries last season.

Shelbyville head coach Pat Parks does not expect to have one back with that many carries in 2016 but rather a committee of athletes sharing that workload.

That will put more pressure on Lux to carry the team.

Shelbyville’s Damon Lux (5-10, 170-pound junior)

John Lux’s favorite target is his cousin, who had 40 receptions for 835 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.

The 40 catches were the fourth most in program history and his 835 yards left him 12 yards short of breaking Josh Hamilton’s nearly 20-year old yardage record.

Damon Lux will line up all over the field on offense in 2016. He can be a slot receiver, a wingback, if necessary, and he will get the ball as a running back as well.

Lux also can return kicks and punts which makes him a dangerous weapon in Shelbyville’s arsenal.

Shelbyville’s Nolan Ray (6-0, 200-pound senior)

Before his senior season even starts, Ray is 42 tackles away from the program’s career record.

Ray, a seek-and-destroy linebacker, was an All-State selection in 2014 and he followed that up with an 141-tackle performance as a junior.

Along with fellow senior Melvin Justice (75 tackles), the linebacker corps for Shelbyville must shine in 2016 to get the defense off the field and the ball back in the hands of the offense.

Ray spent the offseason touring Ivy League schools as he searches for his football home at the collegiate level.

Triton Central’s Jordan Crouse (6-1, 155-pound senior)

All Crouse was asked to do as a sophomore was manage the game. His playmakers did the rest.

As a junior, Crouse took on more responsibilities and performed well.

Now he has a proven pair of running backs in senior Ben Thacker and junior Ethan Demaree and two scary passing targets in senior Jacen Lands and sophomore Aaron Steele.

This should be the year for Crouse to shine if he can become a more accurate passer.

Crouse completed 92-of-189 pass attempts last season for 1,355 yards and 15 touchdowns. But he also threw 15 interceptions and only completed 49 percent of his attempts.

Thacker and Demaree combined to rush for over 1,400 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2015. If the offensive line can find its form early, the pair will be tough to handle.

Steele stepped right into a varsity role as a freshman last season and caught 23 passes for 531 yards and six TDs.

And then there is Lands.

Triton Central’s Jacen Lands (6-5, 190-pound senior)

Lands’ size and athleticism is a luxury for a quarterback. And other teams know it which means the defense will key on him.

Smaller defensive backs will not be able to stop Lands from getting the ball. But a pair of them will make it tricky.

Triton Central head coach Tim Able chirped at Lands during a recent scrimmage that unless there are four guys on him, he has to come down with the ball.

And that will be key. Will Lands fight for every possession? If he does, he will have a lot more than 11 catches for 185 yards like he did in 2015.

Jeff Brown is the Sports editor of The Shelbyville News. Follow Jeff on Twitter at @iamtsnsports