Raider seniors forever grateful for brotherhood

Photos by Nic Antaya/The Herald
Southridge's Matt Price, left, Seth Nunamaker, Tucker Schank and Logan Seger walk to the middle of the field for the coin toss prior to Saturday's Class 2A semistate football game against Western Boone in Thorntown. The four senior captains helped leave a lasting impact on the Southridge football program and the graduating class is forever grateful for the brotherhood the football team has created. For more photos from the game, click here.


THORNTOWN — Every year, a group of seniors graduates and moves on from the Southridge football team. But there’s just something about the group that’s leaving the Raider program after this season that made head coach Scott Buening rather emotional following Southridge’s 48-7 semistate loss to Class 2A No. 1 Western Boone on Saturday afternoon.

Buening can recall making a trip out to North Posey during his very first season as the Southridge head coach back in 2013 to watch a group of seventh graders ‘just running around and doing their thing’. While they were just middle schoolers with dreams of high school glory back then, that group of players ended up becoming an integral part of the Southridge football program for four years and have left a lasting legacy for senior groups to follow.

“They’ve had an incredible career,” Buening said. “They’ve accomplished so much, not just in the football program but also for Southridge athletics as a whole. They’ve been incredible and have done some truly amazing things.”

Those amazing things include the first football state championship in school history, back-to-back sectional and regional championships as well as many individual awards and honors.

But while the trophies and recognitions will forever be remembered by the Raider senior class, nothing will be able to surpass the brotherhood and friendship that has been built among the players.

“When I was a freshman I just remember that year’s group of seniors took me in and they made me feel like family. Those guys are still my brothers even though I haven’t seen them in so many years,” senior running back/cornerback Tucker Schank said. “95 percent of my best friends were at one time or are currently Raider football players and I think that’s just the effect this program has on the community. I’ve made a lot of friends and memories that will last a lifetime and I know the experiences we’ve had will make each of us great young men.”

Senior offensive lineman Wyatt Kramer admits that when he first entered the Raider football program he wasn’t always the hardest worker. But after talking with Buening and growing friendships with the players around him, Kramer turned into an all-conference center and helped lead a strong offensive line that protected quarterbacks such as Jayce Harter in the past and Colson Montgomery this season.

Kramer says he will forever cherish friendships with players such as Jack Michel who he described as ‘one of his favorite guys the universe’ and senior teammate Matt Gentry who was right there by his side throughout the past four years. But what Kramer will recall the most is the fighting spirit that Southridge always displayed — even in Saturday’s semistate loss.

“No matter what happens to us we never gave up, even when we were down 35-7 (against Western Boone) we weren’t going to quit,” Kramer said. “That’s what I love about this team – there’s always faith between the coaching staff and the players no matter who we have out there and I really appreciated that.”

It’s no secret that the Raiders also had to deal with an abundance of injuries throughout the season and a lot of the players that had to miss time this season were seniors.

Schank had to miss six games with a back injury, Gentry missed several postseason games and fellow seniors Matt Price and Seth Nunamaker had to miss a majority of the regular season while nursing injuries before returning to action late in the postseason.

While those group of players were definitely disappointed to have to miss significant amount of playing time during their final year of high school football, Buening was impressed with the leadership they showed while on the sidelines as they helped lead in other ways than by play on the field.

“It’s really hard when you have to watch these guys who want to (play) so bad after putting in so much work for it,” Buening said. “But no matter what, they remained such a part of what we were doing and they helped get the team to this point.”

Throughout the past four years, the 2018 Southridge class has had a plethora of big plays and moments during their tenure. From Schank becoming Southridge’s all-time leading rusher to Logan Seger making crucial defensive plays during the Raiders 2017 sectional championship victory, it’s no secret that this year’s graduating seniors left their mark.

Jennifer Kramer of Holland sports a pin with a picture of her son, Southridge senior Wyatt Kramer, after Saturday's Class 2A semistate football game against Western Boone in Thorntown. "There's brighter things coming," Jennifer said. For more photos from the game, click here.

And it wasn’t just on one side of the ball, either. Offensively Kramer, Gentry and Devin Murphy helped anchor the offensive line that helped Southridge become a dominant run team while defensively players like Seger, Ben Hudson and Joe LaGrange made big plays such as safeties and interceptions that helped keep the Raiders in games. The seniors even made their mark on special teams as kicker Jeovany Dubon continued the legacy of soccer players doubling up as juggernauts on the football field for the Raiders.

Thinking back to his freshman year, Schank couldn’t have pictured the lasting impact that the Southridge football program would end up leaving on his life.

“You just can’t put that kind of experience into words,” Schank said. “Being a little kid, you look forward to playing Raider football but you never are really quite sure what it’s going to entail until you find out as you grow up through this program. All of these memories are just something that I’ll never trade for the world.”

And while the Class of 2018 still has about six months left before their high school graduation, they have played their final downs on the gridiron while wearing the Southridge ‘S’ on their helmet.

All that the senior class can hope for the next group of seniors is that they continue to carry the legacy of strong leadership and the ‘never quit’ type attitude that Southridge has become known for.

“They need to know that the bar is never set too high, you keep going every time through thick and thin no matter what happens,” Kramer said. “Even if you have a bad season you just bounce back because that’s what Raiders do, no matter what sport we play.”

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