MT. CARMEL – As is usually the case for the Mt. Carmel football team coming out of the annual Gator Bowl scrimmage, only time will tell. Time will tell if the ease in which the offense scored points carries over into the regular season. Time will tell if an offensive line with a new center and two new faces can come together to anchor the attack.
Now, all of a sudden, time will have to tell if a key skilled position injury will force the offense to retool, as it did so admirably last year following the off-season loss off Levi Laws and the opening-game season-ending injury to running back Sean D. Flickinger.
Junior Daxton Peach, last year’s top pass receiver and also a two-year starter on a defense loaded with returnees, suffered what appeared to be a knee injury late in Thursday’s pre-season scrimmage at Riverview Stadium.
With coaches from August 28 season-opening foe Harrisburg looking on, Peach was helped off the field, and was on crutches as he left the complex.
“It’s too early to tell something like that,” said veteran coach Darren Peach of the extent of the injury to his son. “The trainers and doctors will check him out and we’ll see what their prognosis is.”
Subsequent reports indicate Daxton Peach will undergo an MRI exam on Monday.
Even with the personnel losses, last year’s Aces regrouped and advanced all the way to the IHSA Class 3A semifinals, a second-consecutive figure into a Big 8 Conference championship achieved earlier in a 10-3 season.
With most of the offensive cogs back, including senior quarterback Pete Smith, who threw for over 2,000 yards in his debut season, the Aces appear poised to go a similar route, if necessary. Towering wide receivers Jackson Marcotte and Justin Carpenter were prime Smith targets in the scrimmage, while promising freshman Austin Rager (who is 6-foot-2 to boot) got in on the fun.
“Pete played well and made some good throws,” Peach said. “It felt like we distributed the ball well.”
That salvo list included senior wide receiver Justin Spear and junior H-back Sampson Margelin. Peach was also pleased with the way powerful junior running back Trevor Kennard carried the ball, along with Margelin.
“There were some good things going on out there,” said Peach, the school’s winningest coach with 127 victories amassed as he readies for his 15th season at the helm.
Up front, where Andrew Wise returns, albeit at center, along with Chandler Madden and Elijah Hadra, the Aces appeared to be making quick progress, playing with new starters Jake Webb and Luke Berberich.
Peach admitted that “right now you’re going up against yourself, so you don’t know what you’ve got. We have three starters back, so that’s a pretty good start. The others will fill in and do well.”
Some of the brightest spots occurred on defense, according to Peach. “Hunter Fuller played really well. (Freshman) Blake Kight played well at linebacker,” he said.