One week after breaking the school record for points in a 62-27 win over Brownsburg, the football team was back at it, inking the record books yet again in a 63-7 victory over Whiteland on Homecoming night.
Leading the offense for the Orioles are senior quarterback Cameron Misner (1,258 passing yards, 18 TDs), junior running back Sampson James (779 yards from scrimmage, 11 TDs) and senior wide receivers Isaac Guerendo (639 receiving yards, 10 TDs) and Luke Shayotovich (255 receiving yards, 5 TDs).
Guerendo, who has committed to playing football at Wisconsin next year, attributes much of the offense’s success to the fact that they returned 10 of 11 offensive starters from last year’s team.
“We had last year together and now we are used to playing as a team this year,” Guerendo said.
“We were able to just pick up where we left off,” Misner added.
Misner, in his second year as starting quarterback, said his focus is simply getting the ball into the hands of the team’s playmakers, like the 6’1”, 200-lb junior lined up in the backfield.
“Sampson is a tank,” Misner said. “It makes it so much easier on everyone else when you’ve got a running back who can break one for 60 yards on any given play.”
Offensive lineman DJ Bowles, a junior all-state selection last year as a sophomore, also had high praise for James.
“Sampson James is without a doubt the best running back I have ever seen play the game,” Bowles said. “Sampson’s ability to read the o-line and as well as his natural athletic ability is unparalleled.”
Guerendo said it’s hard for opposing teams to focus on stopping the Orioles’ passing attack when James is running for big gains on a consistent basis.
“It really opens up the passing game when he breaks off as many big runs as he does,” Guerendo said.
The passing game has indeed been wide open this year, with Misner averaging 20 yards per completion, a stat he says has as much to with the talent of his receiving corps as it does his throwing accuracy.
It helps being able to throw to the fastest guy on the field. That would be Guerendo, who ran the 100-meter dash in 10.68 seconds at the state track meet last year, good for third place, and who ran a 4.38 40-yard dash at a Notre Dame football camp this summer, netting the attention of Wisconsin scouts.
“Issac is naturally fast,” Bowles said. “When he can get into open field there’s no hope for the other team to catch him.”
But he’s not the only target Misner has looked to this year. Shayotovich, named to the junior all-state team last year after reeling in 47 catches for 594 yards, is a steady presence on the outside.
“Luke in my opinion has the best hands on the team,” Bowles said. “If you want someone that is reliable to make a tough catch, it’s him.”
Misner said it’s a near-impossible task to stop the team’s receivers from getting open because “even if they use all of their resources on [Guerendo and Shayotovich], we have guys like Zyan Davis and Robbie Heaton who can make plays too.”
Another group that has made its mark is the offensive line. Anchored by Bowles and consisting of seniors Alex Shoemaker, Ryan Brodnik and Jack Camp and junior Addison Batton – and with help from senior tight end Adrian Lozano – the front five has owned the trenches through the first five games.
“I could talk about these guys all day,” Misner said. “It’s unbelievable how much easier my job is when I don’t have to worry about escaping the defensive line. Everything starts with them, and our last two games reflect just how good they are.”
Bowles added that “As a unit we’ve gotten more experience playing varsity and our brotherhood has increased due to it. Our o-line coach, Jared Johnson, reminds us to ‘raise the bar to another level.’”
Misner was also sure to note that while the offense is clicking, the team’s defense has been just as much of a factor in the last two wins.
“They’ve really stepped up the last few weeks and taken a lot of pressure off of the offense,” Misner said. “That’s huge and definitely makes a difference in our mindset on the offense.”
The Orioles’ next game is Friday, Sept. 22 at Fishers. The Tigers are 2-3 on the season, having lost to Hamilton Southeastern (20-14) and Brownsburg (41-13) in their last two games.
Photo by Zoe Wang