'Year of the Raider' capped by support, perseverance

Photo by Marlena Sloss/The Herald
Kolby Jones of Huntingburg, 16, held a sign made by Cindy Brewer of Huntingburg as the Raiders faced Boone Grove in the Class 2A state finals on Saturday at Victory Field in Indianapolis. The Raider support system has traveled near and far to show their appreciation no matter the sport and no matter the weather.

By HENDRIX MAGLEY
hmagley@dcherald.com

INDIANAPOLIS — If you talked to anyone who’s a fan of Southridge athletics or just drove through the town of Huntingburg, you’d quickly learn that the past year has been the “Year of the Raider.”

And oh, what a year it was.

One state championship crown. Two state championship appearances. Two mental attitude award winners. Four sectional championship trophies. A plethora of individual awards and recognitions.

Even though the Raiders came up just short in Saturday’s 5-4 loss to Boone Grove in the Indiana High School Athletic Association’s Class 2A baseball state championship game at Victory Field in Indianapolis, none of the Southridge faithful will forget this season for a long, long time — especially, those who played in it.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better senior year,” said Jayce Harter, who was a member of three sectional championship-winning teams and was also the recipient of the Blake Ress Mental Attitude Award following the Raiders 15-14 victory over Woodlan in the Class 2A football state championship in November.

“We’re just all so blessed to be able to do what we love and to get to do it in front of the best community with my best friends,” he said. “There’s been special moments we’ve had in each game this season and I’ll remember them forever.”

Southridge Athletic Director Brett Bardwell said this school year will forever be remembered in Raider lore.

“In my memory, I can’t think of a year where across the board we’ve had this much success as a school,” he said. “It’s just been a dream year, a phenomenal year and it’s been fun to be able to go along for the ride. It was just kind of a perfect storm type of situation, things came together so perfectly and it’s just been a joy.”

Southridge was able to make the 2017-18 school year the “Year of the Raider” by utilizing multi-sport athletes. Of the nine starters in Saturday’s game for the Raiders, seven of them were a member of two other athletic programs at Southridge.

The Raiders were also able to find a healthy balance between youth and experience. Southridge started three seniors (Harter, Colin Smith, Max Sermersheim) in Saturday’s title game while senior Justin Lammers also played as a pinch hitter. Southridge also started three freshman (Colson Montgomery, Camden Gasser, Chase Taylor) and had another enter the game as a relief pitcher (Ethan Bell).

Montgomery was grateful to be able to learn under the seniors and is confident the lessons they’ve taught him and fellow underclassmen will stick around for the future.

“They taught me to always be ready to come out and play because if you’re not, then it’s hard to come back and that’s what happened to us today,” Montgomery said Saturday. “We know we’ll be able to build on these experiences though because we’re planning on being right back here next year.”

It wouldn’t have been the “Year of the Raider” without the support from the Southridge faithful who traveled near and far to support the boys in black and red.

From traveling to Indianapolis in the fall for the football state championship to returning in February to support Tucker Schank in the individual wrestling state championship and on Saturday for the baseball championship game. Fans also traveled  to places like Austin for the baseball regional championship and Leopold to watch the girls track team win their first sectional title since 1982. The Raider community always came out to show love and support to their team.

Southridge baseball head coach Gene Mattingly tweeted before Saturday’s game, “To all the fans and friends that have texted, Facebook messaged me and traveled to Indianapolis to support this great group of young men!!! I THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart” and assistant coach Andy McKeough said earlier in the week that every day someone new at Kimball International kept coming up to him at work and telling him congratulations and wishing him good luck. Even Raider starting pitcher Logan Seger said he was feeling the love in the week leading up to the big game.

“I’ve gotten so many texts and messages from people I don’t even know,” Seger said earlier in the week. “Seeing so many people look up to you and wish you luck, it’s awesome.”

Bardwell added: “Dubois County is just truly a special place where parents and the community support their kids no matter what they’re doing. There’s a tremendous pride in high school athletics in our community and this county (in general).”

Possibly the biggest support the Southridge athletic programs have gotten this past year has come from the youngest fans in the stands. The ones who rush the field following victories and hope to land an autograph from every member of the Raider baseball team and the ones who sit in the stands and imitate the batting stances they see players like Schank and Harter do in the batter’s box.

The graduating Raiders hope the future Raiders see the way they handled situations and approached each and every game like it was their final game of the season. Because just like how the older Raiders are having an impact on the young Raiders on the team, they want to have an impact on the kids who are watching them from the bleachers.

“I just hope they learn to have a never give up type of attitude,” Lammers said. “If you go back to the football season, we were down in the state title game but we never gave up and we still found a way to come out on top. Here (on Saturday), we kept grinding and grinding and we made it interesting and were 90 feet away from tying the game up, so you just never give up because you never know when you’re about to do something great.”

Harter added: “I know those kids watching are going to be in our shoes someday and they’re going to have expectations to fill and hopefully they fulfill them. I know a lot of these little kids have looked up to me and it’s been awesome to be that person. I’m going to miss being the one they come up after the games and say ‘Hi’ to, that’s for sure.”

Success across the board

The Southridge High School athletic teams have seen success in a plethora of different sports this season, fully utilizing the belief of multi-sport athletes.

  • Baseball — State-runner ups
  • Boys Basketball — Sectional champions
  • Football — State champions
  • Girls Cross Country — Regional qualifiers
  • Boys Cross Country — Regional qualifiers
  • Boys Golf — Coby Reller, regional qualifier as an individual
  • Girls Golf — Regional qualifiers
  • Boys Soccer — Sectional championship appearance in just second full season
  • Girls Tennis — Finished the regular season with a 14-2 record
  • Boys Track and Field — Jaden Hayes, state qualifier
  • Girls Track and Field — PAC and Sectional Champs; eight state qualifiers
  • Unified Track and Field — Regional qualifiers
  • Wrestling — Conference champions; Tucker Schank advanced to state finals individually



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