Indiana pushing for winning season
Friday, August 20, 2021 | 6:01 AM
Like so many coaches, Brandon Overdorff has so many questions.
Are we big enough? Are we strong enough? Are we fast enough? Can we compete?
Indiana, currently the easternmost WPIAL member school, is preparing to chase another winning season, something that has escaped the Indians in Overdorff’s first three years as coach and hasn’t happened since 2014.
That year, the Indians finished 7-4 after splitting a pair of Class 3A postseason games in what was their most recent appearance in the WPIAL playoffs.
Indiana since has struggled, compiling a record of 15-39 over the past six seasons.
The Indians have won just seven games in Overdorff’s three previous seasons as coach, including last year’s covid-shortened schedule that produced a 2-5 mark.
But not for a lack of effort, Overdorff said.
“The kids were great last year,” he said. “They practiced hard every day. We really got better, and we were way more competitive than we were the year before (2-8 in 2019). We were so young that year and knew we were up against it.
“We took a huge step forward last year.”
But with some key players returning, which step will Indiana take this season? It’s just another one of those unanswered questions.
While the Indians are undersized and lack experience and depth on both sides of the line, Overdorff continues to remind the groups of their importance to the team.
“To me, they’re the most important guys on the field,” he said. “I tell them, ‘Embrace what God gave you and be the best that you can be.’ You try to tell those guys they are playing the most important positions on the field. You hope they embrace it.”
Less than half of the current lineup of 12 linemen candidates are seniors.
“These guys have played a lot of football, just not at the varsity level,” Overdorff said.
Nine starters return, including the top two rushers from a year ago: quarterback Devin Flint engineered admirably a triple option set by rushing for 993 yards and 14 touchdowns, while fullback Zach Herrington added 750 yards.
“Devin got almost 1,000 yards in seven games,” Overdorff said. “In a normal season, he would have been on pace to maybe break the school record. Zach also piled up some yards. He’s probably our best football player. He got better as the year went on. He looks even better this year — bigger, faster and quicker.
“Both of those guys can have outstanding seasons. It’s a good one-two punch.”
Overdorff said he’s seen some spirited competition to secure spots on the line, where the Indians are least experienced.
“We have a number of guys competing really hard,” he said. “It’s been a good battle at camp, and we’re sorting things out.”
Flint and Herrington, along with Korbin Wilson and Fox Van Leer, who sat out last season with an injury, will anchor the Indiana defense in the secondary.
Overdorff also has been encouraged by the play of senior Ben Nettleton, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound linebacker.
On the interior line, there are a number of battles for position, he said, mentioning the play of the Clark twins — juniors 6-1, 290-pound Adam and 6-1, 285-pound Alek — as well as seniors Owen Clifford (6-3, 244), Connor Burick (5-8, 218) and Amarie Brown (5-6, 254), and sophomore Ben Cochran (6-0, 250).
“We need those guys if we’re going to make a run,” Overdorff said. “We have some depth at the skill positions that we haven’t had before. Devin runs the ball well out of that triple option. He has a year under his belt making reads. He’s probably the best athlete and the fastest kid on the team.
“He’s a real unique runner with incredible quickness, and he can get to the hole in a hurry. He’s a tough kid, and when he makes the right reads, it just makes our offense tough to defend.”
Coach: Brandon Overdorff
2020 record: 2-5, 2-5 in Class 4A Greater Allegheny Conference
All-time record: 445-424-36
Date, Opponent, Time
8.27 Ligonier Valley, 7
9.3 at Burrell, 7
9.10 Derry, 7
9.17 Plum*, 7
9.24 at Greensburg Salem*, 7
10.1 at Knoch*, 7
10.8 Highlands*, 7
10.15 at Hampton*, 7
10.22 at Mars*, 7
10.29 Armstrong*, 7
Passing: Devin Flint
8-23, 144 yards, 0 TDs
Receiving: Korbin Wilson
4-54 yards, 0 TDs
Rushing: Devin Flint
176-993, 14 TDs
• Since last reaching the WPIAL playoffs in 2014, Indiana is 15-39, including 7-20 in three seasons under current coach Brandon Overdorff.
• Overdorff, an all-state running back in 1990 at Purchase Line, where he later coached before arriving at Indiana in 2018, split his college playing time between Lehigh and Shippensburg.
• A total of 15 seniors and 10 juniors make up a large portion of the Indiana roster.
• Indiana’s two victories in 2020 were by an average of 25.5 points; its five losses were by an average of 25.2.
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• WPIAL Class 4A final by the numbers: Aliquippa 34, Central Valley 7
• WPIAL Class 3A final by the numbers: Belle Vernon 24, Avonworth 7