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Homecoming showdown

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The Shelbyville football team hosts Greenfield-Central this week for homecoming.
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Shelbyville head football coach Michael Clevenger directs his team during a game this season.

By KRIS MILLS - kmills@shelbynews.com

The sport has always been on his mind. He started drawing up plays in middle school.

Some guys, it seems, are just meant to coach football. Insert first-year Shelbyville head coach Michael Clevenger, who is in his fifth week with the Golden Bears.

No stranger to the highest levels of high school football, the former Warren Central and Marian University assistant coach has grown more accustomed to the duties involved with being a head coach. The last two years, it was at 2A Clinton Prairie. The move to 4A has had its challenges, Clevenger said. There are no weeks off at this level. 

The latest obstacle in his way is Hoosier Heritage Conference foe Greenfield-Central, which features a head coach with a similar background. 

Adam Sherman, who is also new to the conference in his third year with the Cougars, also coached at Warren Central and Marian prior to becoming a high school head coach.

“When I was a young coach coming through Warren Central (2007-08), Coach Sherman was the offensive line coach there,” Clevenger. “He definitely showed me the ropes. He really helped my love for coaching. I coached with him for about a year. Then he went on to be a coordinator at Marian. He helped me out a lot with play calling and what to look for. Back then, I just knew about the guys upfront, not much really with the skill positions.”

Both Clevenger and Sherman were offensive lineman during their playing days and bring a similar type of attitude to the sideline. Clevenger was a standout in three sports in high school, earning all-state honors in football, track and field and wrestling. He was the first Mr. Football position winner while at Warren Central (2003 graduate) and later played at the University of Indianapolis before obtaining his teaching license.

“When you are an o-lineman, you are an o-lineman for life,” Clevenger said. “For an o-lineman, it is more about the process and the team. It is more 'we' than it is 'me'. I think you can apply that to different parts of being a head coach."

Unfortunately, Sherman will not coach Friday’s game. According to Brian Heinemann, the Sports editor at the Daily Reporter in Greenfield, the head coach has been battling health issues in recent weeks. Regardless, for Clevenger, it has been fun to prepare for a game against a friend — not just a rival. Having a familiar face in a tough conference has been calming, as well.

“We have both grown personally and professionally,” Clevenger said. “It was definitely something I was thinking about (when taking the job here). You hate to coach against your friends, but it is also something you look forward to.”

What to Expect in Week 5

Experience wise, like Shelbyville, Greenfield-Central is a young team. The Cougars have athletes, however, according to Clevenger, and prefer a fast-paced tempo on offense.

Freshman Gehrig Slunaker starts at quarterback for G-C and has thrown for 283 yards to go with two touchdowns and four interceptions. Spencer Johnson has 188 rushing yards and a score, while Jake Vance is the team’s top receiver with 149 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Emmet Houer and wideout Lance McKee are other weapons for the Cougars.

“I spoke to Coach Sherman over the weekend. That is one thing we could agree on, our teams are very young,” Clevenger said. “He has several sophomores and juniors starting.

“One thing that sticks out to me on film is that they have a ton of athletes. The game speed they play at is really fast. They are like us in regards to the timing of the game. It is going to be an interesting battle. Obviously we have some great athletes, too.”

Defensively for Greenfield-Central, linebacker Tyler Antic has a team-high 39 tackles, while linebacker Bradon Nelson has 29 tackles and an interception.

For SHS, one switch the coaching staff made this week was putting the No. 1 offense against the No. 1 defense, which should help players with the speed of the game Friday.

“One of our position coaches actually suggested that we needed a better look scout team wise,” Clevenger said. “Some of the young kids won’t run the (opposing) varsity plays as crisp.

“We have progressed these last four weeks. It was just a couple plays at first, then it turned into a couple series and then a quarter. It turned into a half against a pretty dang good football team in New Castle. We just didn’t have enough to finish the game off. Moving forward, I think we will have plenty in the tank to get a win on homecoming.”

Shelbyville junior quarterback Landon Watson is 46 of 89 passing this season for 483 yards and two scores. He has added 166 yards and a touchdown on the ground as the team’s second leading rusher.

Senior running back Matt Merritt has 243 rushing yards and three touchdowns, while senior receiver Dom Willman leads the Golden Bears through the air with 219 yards and one touchdown.

Junior defensive back Elijah Sims has a team-high 29 tackles, while sophomore linebacker Jett Kolls has collected 22. Senior Noah Dusenbury has 25 tackles.

Kris Mills is the Sports editor of The Shelbyville News. Follow Kris on Twitter @KrisMills37.

Greenfield-Central (0-4) at Shelbyville (0-4)

GAME TIME: 7:30 p.m., McKeand Field.

COACHES: Adam Sherman, 9-16 in 3rd year at Greenfield. Michael Clevenger, 0-4 in 1st year at Shelbyville, 11-14 in 3rd year overall.

SAGARIN RATINGS: Greenfield, 33.76, 225th overall, 35th in 5A. Shelbyville, 21.5, 274th overall, 57th in 4A.

LAST OUTING: Greenfield lost to Pendleton Heights, 50-0. Shelbyville lost to New Castle, 41-18.

OPPONENTS' RECORDS: Greenfield 13-3. Shelbyville 11-5.

SERIES LAST 30 YEARS: Shelbyville, 20-11.

LAST MEETING: Shelbyville, 41-14, Sep. 15, 2017.

PREDICTION (John Harrell): Greenfield, 42-28.