ANDERSON — Shenandoah football coach Scot Widner said he and his players were just happy to be in the regional round of the 2012 IHSAA Class 2A state tournament.
No matter that they lost by 42 points to Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter, the eventual runner-up in the state title game. Taking down perennial powerhouse Heritage Christian in the sectional championship, 41-35, alone made last season a success.
“It was a great win for our program,” Widner said. “We felt like that senior class last year set the bar for the program for future classes.
“I hope they enjoyed the experience more than anything, just the opportunity to advance in the tournament and play the extra week and see what it’s like to play the caliber of team we played in Indianapolis Ritter in the regional.”
But now that his boys have tasted it once, Widner said he doesn’t want to settle for just enjoying the experience of a regional game anymore. He thinks his squad learned a lot from the big loss and will come back stronger this season.
Widner wants to compete.
“I think that was great for those kids to see where we need to get to if we want to get to be a championship football team and program,” Widner said. “That’s the biggest thing, I think, that’s going to help us from last year is that we got to that point. We made some mistakes, some coaching mistakes and playing mistakes. We’ll do our best to fix those and hopefully narrow that gap a little bit, a 40-point gap last season. We’ve got a lot of work to do obviously to make that a respectable game.”
This summer Widner said he’s been a bit disappointed at the number of kids he saw during offseason workouts, but the ones who showed up put in quality work. He added that after looking at tape from the postseason games, his returning players have been very receptive to tips that Widner and his staff have tried to instill.