The Batesville Herald-Tribune
The Batesville Bulldogs are coming off back-to-back losing seasons, which is out of the ordinary for Eric Heppner led football teams.
The outlook for this season is different.
Football fans got their first look at the 2013 Bulldogs on Friday in North Vernon.
Heppner's crew did not disappoint as they rolled over the host Jennings County Panthers by a score of 49-13.
And they did so with a variety of characters getting involved.
"We have a lot of returning players with plenty of experience," Heppner commented. "This senior class was forced into action as sophomores and we hope that extra experience pays off this season.
"We also have a large sophomore class this year, which gives us a lot of depth," he added.
The philosophy and schemes did not change in the first outing, but the execution on both sides of the ball seemed much improved.
Senior Bo Gowan returned the opening kick to the 45 yard line to get the game started. The Bulldogs marched the ball down the field and seven plays later scored on a 1-yard Gowan run. Kicker Peter Heil added the first of his seven extra extra points and the Bulldogs were on their way.
Gowan then got the job done on the defensive side of the ball. The senior defensive back intercepted a Jennings County pass to get the ball back for the Bulldogs.
Unfortunately, the turnover did not lead to points because of a fumble deep in JC territory, but it was obvious the Bulldogs were not going to have many problems moving the ball against the Panther defense.
Batesville racked up 21 second quarter points to make it a 28-0 lead at halftime.
Ryan Wilson scored a pair of second quarter touchdowns on passes from quarterback Connor Schuck - one from 26 yards out and the other from 22. Austin Westerfeld scored on a 5-yard carry for the first score of the quarter.
The lead grew to 35-0 on a 1-yard touchdown run by Clayton McKinley in the third quarter.
Fourth quarter touchdowns were scored by Taylor Henson (2-yard run) and Zach Mears (95-yard run).
Defensively, the Bulldogs gave up two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but for three held the Panthers scoreless.
Defense coordinator Tim Hunter credited Colin Brown, Connor Dickey and Cody Reer with solid games. Brown led the team in tackle points (combination of solo and assists) with 18, including four solo. Dickey was second with 10 from his defensive back position.
Ben Wilson and Brandon Wolter each had a pair of tackles for loss, while Seth Williamson recovered a fumble.
"We got some good efforts from a variety of players," Heppner commented. "It is always good to get that first win.
"A lot of people got to play and we stayed relatively healthy ... happy with the effort," he added.
The Bulldogs look to get a little revenge on Friday when they host Milan on Friday. The Indians shutout the Bulldogs 26-0 last season. The game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.