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NH looks to build on success

NH looks to build on success
NH looks to build on success
North Harrison coach Jason Mullis, center, said the 2005-2006 edition of the football Cougars are better than last year's 4-6 team. (Photo by Alan Stewart)

Last year under new head coach Jason Mullis, North Harrison went on a three-game win streak ‘ it’s longest since 2000. The Cougars went on to post one more victory to match the previous three campaigns combined, and eventually lost a tough tourney battle to eventual sectional champion Batesville, 20-6.
With a couple of breaks in the opening games of the season (against West Washington and Perry Central), North could have finished 6-4.
When practice started this preseason, Mullis said he saw a rejuvenated bunch that was surprisingly dedicated to hitting the weights and improving its football knowledge.
But with a 4-6 record under the team’s belt, he also saw a little bit of swagger.
‘I think there was a sense that we had arrived, but I had to point out that the teams we beat last year were not teams that we weren’t supposed to beat,’ Mullis said. ‘I think between the four teams we won against, they may have had four or five wins combined. We never won a game where anyone thought we were the underdog.
‘There’s swagger, but we feel like there are still some things left to prove. We didn’t just all of a sudden go from down here to up here. We’re still shooting for everyone else.’
Now in his second year, Mullis and his pack of Cougars are looking to turn up the wick against the competition and prove the relative success they achieved last season was no fluke.
They are off to a good start.
In last Friday night’s scrimmage against Springs Valley, North scored five times in the first 15 plays.
‘The first play went to the house when Brenden (Zellers) took it 65 yards,’ Mullis said. ‘Everyone expects (Bryan) Schroeder to do things like that, but Brenden can do it, too.’
Zellers, a 5-11 senior, and Schroeder, a 5-11 sophomore, are two lightning-quick cogs in the North Harrison machine.
Schroeder was the top-rushing freshman in the state last year, racking up 945 yards (105.0 avg. per game) and eight touchdowns. As a kick and punt returner, he had even more trips to the end zone.
Mullis said his star sophomore has added muscle and speed, increasing from 165 lbs. as a freshman to 205 as a sophomore.
‘Another thing he’s added is that he doesn’t look to just blow by people. With his added size, he’s running over people,’ the coach said. ‘And the best part is that I think he’s faster than he was last year.’
North boasts eight seniors. On offense, the team returns eight starters on offense and nine on defense.
Mullis believes this year’s team is better than his first edition.
‘Our speed is different, our strength is better, we had a winter program, and we’re just a lot better. Our line is the thing right now that we’re looking at improving. We’re trying to replace three guys on the line,’ Mullis said.
Among the starters are Michael Dean, a 5-10 junior quarterback; 6-4 junior Wes Kirk (who moves to tight end), and 6-0 junior linebacker Isaac Davis, who provides punch for the defense.
‘We have a lot of guys who really improved in the off-season in several areas. I’ve seen a lot of dedication out there that I’m sure was a result of us winning four games,’ Mullis said.
Perinnial power Brownstown Central is again tabbed as the favorite for the league championship, the coach added. ‘But we’re expecting to compete with the Brownstowns and the Corydons. We’ve focused on three teams: Brownstown, Corydon and Batesville. Those three teams are at the top of the totem pole, and that’s who we are shooting for.’