Southridge's Buening talks 2019 campaignNovember 11, 2019
By COREY STOLZENBACH
HUNTINGBURG — Southridge’s 2019 finish as Class 3A sectional runner-up did not come without obstacles thrown its way.
The team moved up from Class 2A to Class 3A, and junior quarterback Colson Montgomery did not return to the Raiders after last year’s finish at semi-state. Fellow junior Chase Taylor replaced him at quarterback, but he went down to a collarbone injury Sept. 6 in a 42-7 win at Forest Park. He did not return until a 43-14 Oct. 25 win against Mount Vernon.
This year marked the second year in a row somebody stepped in for Southridge due to an injury. The Raiders dealt with running back Tucker Schank going down to injury last year as a senior while Brad Springer filled in. But they dealt with the adversity of losing Taylor in the same way they dealt with losing Schank. Sophomore Carson Niehaus took the reigns at quarterback for the Raiders, and Niehaus helped lead them to a 6-0 start.
“It’s not easy to survive injuries, especially to some of your key players and key positions,” Southridge coach Scott Buening said. “We’ve been able to continue to push forward when that’s happened, and I think it does say a lot about the character of our kids.”
The Raiders were still a Top 10 team in the Class 3A rankings, and finished the year 9-3. Two of Southridge’s losses came against No. 2 ranked Heritage Hills, including in the Nov. 8 sectional championship, and a 22-21 loss Oct. 18 against another top 10 team in Class 3A: Gibson Southern.
Buening said Southridge had three goals for 2019 — beat Jasper, win the Pocket Athletic Conference and win a sectional championship. The Raiders accomplished one of the three on Aug. 30 with a 21-17 win at Jasper. That turned out to be the last meeting between the two teams, with the Wildcats moving to the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference beginning in the 2020-21 season. Buening said Southridge will continue to have other rivalries, such as the Heritage Hills Patriots and Gibson Southern Titans. He added that the team plays in a tough conference, and praised the quality of competition the Pats are. Buening said Heritage Hills will play a factor in who wins the Class 3A state championship this year.
He said it isn’t easy to play Raider football, and the bar is high for the program in regards to standards for team success. Southridge wasn’t able to win a state championship like it did two years ago or make it to semi-state like it did last year, but the seventh-year coach said the Raiders still had a successful season.
“The guys never quit,” he said. “They never resigned themselves, and they just kept chipping away, kept working hard and accomplished a lot of great things this year.”
Buening said moving up from Class 2A to Class 3A did not change the team’s approach to the season, and that the Raiders were bound to play quality competition in the playoffs regardless of what class they were in.
Southridge used the Shotgun Wing-T offense with a variety of defenses this year. The team began the season 2-0 for the first time since 2016, and Buening thought winning, 28-20, Aug. 23 at Linton-Stockton and the Jasper win the next week helped make the season what it was. He thought it gave his players a lot of confidence in being able to compete with and beat good football teams. Buening said the Raiders had a selfless team and were a lot of fun to be around with their competitive spirits. He added they were small in stature, but the team as a whole had a lot of heart and loyalty.
The Raiders are losing 18 players to graduation, but quarterback is set for the near future with Taylor and Niehaus, as well as freshman Levi Neukam in the mix. Buening said it’s important to have depth and stability at that position, and is hoping Southridge will also have surrounding pieces to be successful going forward.
“Our goal will be to win the PAC again,” Buening said. “Our goal will be to win a sectional again, and then we’re going to go fight like heck to try to figure out a way to do that.”
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