The Hillsboro Indians experienced a program resurgence in 2017 as they compiled a 7-3 overall record. That 7-3 record marks the first winning season for Hillsboro since the 2009 season when they went 8-2 on the season.
Hillsboro will lean on the 11 seniors on the squad this season and require them to step up and be leaders for the underclassmen on and off the field.
Among the returning seniors are quarterback Mason Swayne, running backs Josh Keets and Deon Burns and tight end Reece Bloomfield. The Indians offense will be led by these four as they try to improve on the 2017 season.
A year ago the quartet of Swayne, Keets, Burns and Bloomfield carried the team offensively. Swayne and Keets have big play ability on the ground as each player ripped off several 50 plus yard runs last season.
Burns served as the inside back for the Indians in 2017 and led the team in touchdowns as a result of his increased workload inside the ten yard line. Bloomfield was a leader on the offensive line from the tight end position and helped set the edge for Swayne and Keets.
The Indians will need to lean on a new set of starting offensive linemen with the loss of the offensive line to graduation in the spring.
Defensively Hillsboro will be led by Burns at the middle linebacker position, James Coday at cornerback and Logan Hester at middle linebacker. Burns was a major factor for the defense last
year and led the team in tackles while Hester and Coday performed well in limited action last season.
The biggest factor in the Indians’ success this season is the performance of their offensive line and if it can grasp the nuance of the wishbone offense that Hillsboro head Coach Jack O’Rourke has implemented.
Hillsboro’s three losses last season were against non-conference foe Goshen in week two and Frontier Athletic Conference rivals Chillicothe and Jackson in weeks six and eight respectively. The Indians will be looking to avenge those losses this season with all three teams on the 2018 schedule.
Hillsboro will look to improve on their first winning season in eight years in the 2018 season and have the talent to rise to the top of the FAC.
8/31 at Goshen – After hosting Goshen in week two of the 2017 season and falling to the Warriors by a score of 39-15 Hillsboro will be on the road for this matchup. The Indians can prove they are the real deal by knocking off the 2017 playoff team.
9/7 vs East Clinton – Hillsboro traveled to Lees Creek in 2017 and emerged with a 48-7 win over their former South Central Ohio League rivals the Astros. This season East Clinton will make the trip to Richard’s Memorial Field in Hillsboro as they seek to give the Indians a dose of their own medicine.
9/28 vs Chillicothe – The Indians rolled into Chillicothe for their week six matchup last season sporting a 4-1 record and looking poised to give the Cavaliers fits. However, Brandon Maughmer and company rolled over Hillsboro and sent them home with a resounding 42-20 win. Hillsboro will be looking for payback in week six this season as they host the Cavaliers in their FAC opener.
10/12 at Jackson – The Ironmen made the long journey from Jackson to Hillsboro in week eight last season and ended the Indians chances at the post season as they beat the Indians 28-6 to hand them their second loss of the season. In 2018 the Indians will make the trip to Jackson looking to avenge the 2017 loss and establish themselves as a force in the FAC.
10/26 vs McClain – The Indians went into Greenfield at the end of the 2017 season and delivered and inspired performance as they soundly beat the Tigers 61-13 to cap their season and claim the Rotary Bowl trophy. In the 34th annual Rotary Bowl the Indians will host McClain as they try to keep the Rotary Bowl trophy surrounded by red and white.
Hillsboro has the potential to earn their ninth overall post season bid and will be gunning to remove the zero in the wins column of their playoff scorecard. With the return of Swayne, Keets, and Burns the Indians have the firepower to win every game on their schedule this season.
The biggest factor concerning the success of lack thereof in the 2018 season will be the performance of a revamped offensive line and its ability to block effectively.
Given the stellar year the Indians put together in 2017 it is likely that the team will regress in the 2018 season in the win loss category. It is possible that, with the improvement of the teams returning players and contributions from newcomers, the battle for the top spot in the FAC this season.
Reach Ryan Applegate at 937-402-2572, or on Twitter @RCApplegate89.