ANDERSON — For the second straight week, running back Tyler Welch stepped up to the challenge for the Anderson football team.
The junior speedster carried the ball 25 times for 195 yards and one touchdown in a 34-12 loss against Pendleton Heights last Friday. He also rushed for 196 yards in an opening week loss at Fort Wayne Wayne, and the strain of the workload is showing.
“He’s done a good job. He’s just not in shape for us,” Indians coach Randy Albano said. “We felt he had a couple more runs that he should’ve scored on (against the Arabians). But he was tired, and he didn’t finish them.”
Welch never expected to see so many carries this season. Senior Jerian Beard was supposed to be the workhorse back. But he likely will miss his second straight game with knee and ankle injuries tonight when the Tribe (0-2) opens North Central Conference play against Richmond (1-1) at Collier Field.
Beard was injured during the first quarter at Wayne, and he is far from the only key Indian missing in action. Fullback Jarmel Graves also went down in the opener, and cornerback Nigel Simmons has yet to suit up this year. Safety Alonzo West suffered a broken ankle this week and will be added to the inactive list tonight.
Three of those four players were expected to start on both sides of the ball, increasing the impact of their absence.
“We’re playing with a lot of kids that wouldn’t normally be playing out there,” Albano said. “And we’ve played some pretty good teams. I think that’s going to help us.”
The NCC race appears to be wide open in the early going. Only Richmond and Muncie Central (1-1) have a win so far this season.
The league had been dominated in recent seasons by Kokomo, but the Indians upset the Wildkats in the final game last year. That victory, and the apparent parity currently engulfing the conference, has Anderson dreaming big.