At the start of the fall season, seniors will be featured in the upcoming Elite 11 and Prime 8 feature films before competing in their final seasons leading up to their senior nights.
But the region is also blessed with an abundance of underclass talent, many of whom have already had a major impact on their teams and in the playoffs.
Here’s a look at 15 of those sophomores and juniors who could be geared up for a big fall season ahead:
Katie Coleman, sophomore, Pendleton Heights football: Pendleton Heights women’s soccer team fires all five players who scored four or more goals last season, and Coleman is leading the way. Coleman helped the Arabs to a 9-7-1 record last year and led the team with 13 goals and four assists.
Jacob Erwin, junior, backhand tennis: The region’s player of the year as a sophomore, Erwin is back to lead the Bulldogs to a potential ninth consecutive county title and 10th consecutive regional finish. Erwin was 20-4 last year and 36-11 overall in his two years as Lapel’s No. 1 singles player.
Farrell Crew, Junior, Frankton Football: Also an underclass to watch this winter for the Eagles wrestling team, Farrell is one of the best playmakers on a rapidly improving Frankton football team. He had over 700 yards and 10 touchdowns offensively while racking up 98 tackles and one interception on the defensive side of the ball.
Addy Gick, Jr., Daleville Golf: After showing promise in her freshman year, Gick came on strong and finished her sophomore year strong, raising expectations this season. Gick ranked third with an 81 round in the Muncie Division last season, helping the Broncos advance to the regional level.
Luke Gilman, sophomore, Madison-Grant tennis: Gilman is one of many talented tennis players in the underclass this fall. He was 15-9 last season as Argylls’ No.1 singles player and has had a solid summer as he prepares to lead MG.
Owen Hinchman, Jr., Elwood Tennis: Hinchman went 9-12 last season for the Panthers, but also had a good summer playing in regional tournaments. He won the Little Hackers singles tournament at Ball State before teaming up with fellow Elwood underclassman Beau Brandon to win the doubles title as well.
Rylie Hudson, sophomore, backhand football: Stats aside, Hudson’s sheer athleticism makes him an athlete to watch no matter what sport he plays. As a freshman, Hudson had 26 passes for 395 yards for the Bulldogs and pairs with junior Nick Witte (35 receptions, 660 yards, 10 TDs) to form a dynamic underclass receiving combo.
Ava Jarrell, sophomore, cross country from Pendleton Heights: Before qualifying for the national track and field finals in the spring, Jarrell caused a stir as a rookie as she led the Pendleton Heights cross country team for much of the fall. The Madison County Women’s Champion placed ninth at the Delta Regional last October.
Holli Klettheimer, junior, Frankton volleyball: Simply put, Klettheimer has been one of the best volleyball players around since she first donned an Eagles jersey. She recorded 280 kills, 61 aces, 60 blocks and 251 digs last year, and her talent is attracting interest from NCAA Division I and II schools.
Gabe McGuire, Jr., Alexandria Football: Whether he’s throwing, running or catching the football, McGuire is an electrifying player to watch on the gridiron. Primarily a receiver last season, McGuire had over 800 rushing yards and found the end zone eight times. He is expected to return to quarterback this year and threw 14 touchdown passes as a Tigers rookie.
Faith Norris, junior, Daleville cross country: Norris has already made a lot of noise in the playoffs as a sophomore for the Broncos after breaking through with a semi-state berth last fall and stepping up to the regional track in the spring. Last season, Norris finished fifth in section, 19th in section and 79th in half-state – the best finisher in the return area for girls.
Mikala Ross, Jr., Pendleton Heights Volleyball: While Avery Ross, the region’s two-time player of the year, has taken her talents to Notre Dame, younger sister Mikala should be an imposing presence in net for the Arabs this fall. She’s the PH’s leading returning forward with 187 kills last season and led the Arabs with 48 blocks as a sophomore.
Isabelle Phillips, Jr., Pendleton Heights Football: Yes, the Arab girls football team has a second player on this list and rightly so. Phillips is a talented midfielder who has perhaps the best football skills in the region. Blessed with a quick foot and excellent vision of the pitch, Phillips scored three times and finished tied for the team lead with eight assists last year.
Cameron Smith, junior, cross-country backhand: One of the area’s top runners this fall, Smith moved up to halfstate in 2021 as a sophomore where he ranked 83rd for the Bulldogs. He was 17th at regional the previous week and finished third at the 2021 Madison County Championship.
Hunter Smith, junior, Frankton cross: With the same last name and similar talents, Hunter Smith joins Cameron Smith as the top juniors to watch this fall. As a sophomore at Eagle, Hunter finished fifth in County, 15th in Section, 19th in Regional and qualified for New Haven Semistate for the second time in as many years, where he ranked 105th.