Knights aim for repeat EIAC championship
The South Dearborn Knights’ 2022 season ended with an Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference small school championship, after going 7-3 and 3-0 in conference games, their first championship since 1996. Rand Ballart enters his 10th season as the Knights’ head coach, is coming off back-to-back seven-win seasons and earned the small school coach of the year for the EIAC in 2022.
South Dearborn returns one of the top quarterbacks in the EIAC, Adam Kunkel. The senior threw for 2,253 yards and 19 touchdowns a season ago and has 3,513 career passing yards and 33 touchdowns in 19 starts under center. The Knights also return halfback CJ Evans, who has 782 career rushing yards and eight touchdowns. Evans also had 20 receptions last season. Olli Babcock is the leading receiver who returns for the Knights; he hauled in 39 receptions for 454 yards in 2022. Hudson Shackelford and Reid Thornton also return with receiving experience. The offensive line returns All-EIAC guard Blake Pruss, tackle Mahlon Bressert, guard Zaniel Juan and center Colt Hensley.
The South Dearborn defense returns All-EIAC defensive MVP Brayden Johnson back at middle linebacker. Johnson led the Knights with 98 tackles and two interceptions. The rest of the linebacker crew returns with Johnson for the 2023 season. Outside linebackers JD Wickersham (23 tackles) and Dylon Wynn (51 tackles) return with inside linebacker Brady Ballart (98 tackles) to give the Knights a solid middle returning for their defense. Cornerbacks Blake Lagaly and Dylan Leffler both return for South Dearborn this season; the duo combined for 61 tackles with an interception each. The special teams will return All-EIAC kicker Taytum Barker, a junior who has already nailed 61 PAT attempts through her first two seasons.
South Dearborn will take on Jennings County to open the season. They defeated the Panthers to start last season, 28-0.