Greenwood football: Season preview

If you’re old enough to remember the “Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!” game from the original Nintendo Entertainment System in the late 1980s, you can still clearly recall images of Little Mac leaping to punch up against much bigger opponents.

Greenwood’s football team can relate.

The smallest school in the Mid-State Conference, the Woodmen are struggling to keep up enrollment-wise with some of their larger brethren. According to the IHSAA’s classification numbers for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 competition cycle, Greenwood checks in at 1,193 students — almost exactly half the size of Perry Meridian (2,385) and quickly falling just as far behind rapid growers Whiteland and Plainfield, each of which has seen its enrollment go up by nearly 200 students over the past five years.

Those trends are becoming noticeable on the football field, where Greenwood coach Mike Campbell has about 65 players out this season. In previous seasons, the Woodmen had been suiting up 75 players or more.

“We’re thin all the way around,” Campbell said.

In true Little Mac fashion, though, the more undersized the Woodmen get, the more determined they become.

“We’re not overly athletic, but we’re tough,” Campbell said of his squad. “We’re a tough team. We’re going to have a bunch of tough kids who might be undersized and not as fast as the people we play, but we’re going to try to get after you.”

The Woodmen do have some size in the trenches — junior offensive guard Jaxton McClain is listed at 295 pounds and senior tight end Carter Campbell stands 6-foot-5 and weighs about 250 — but in several positions, they’re going to be giving up a few dozen pounds on some Fridays.

To some extent, it might change the way that Greenwood operates. Traditionally a power running team during Mike Campbell’s first 16 seasons, the offense might end up opening things up a little bit this fall with junior Brock Riddle at quarterback. Riddle threw 77 passes as a part-time starter in 2021, including a season-high 18 in a Week 9 loss to Whiteland.

“Brock’s a more natural passer than we’ve had in a while,” coach Campbell said. “He’s got a live arm. He’s a wiry kid, but he can spin it a little bit — so if we can protect him, we might throw more than five times a game this year.”

Going to the air more often might help save Greenwood some wear and tear over the course of the season, an important consideration given that the team isn’t as big or as deep as it has been in some other years.

The coaching staff will have to manage contact in practice once the season starts in order to keep the starters from falling apart physically — but for now, Mike Campbell is enjoying the fact that his players like to beat up on one another.

“It’s been fun,” he said. “We get chippy and then they all get together and go to (Buffalo Wild Wings) or something for dinner after practice.

“They’re a scrappy group. They get after each other.”

Next week, they’ll finally get a chance to get after somebody else.

On a schedule that doesn’t have any Glass Joes, that’s going to mean a lot of punching up — but if these Woodmen do end up going down, you can be sure they’re going to go out swinging.



Aug. 19;Seymour

Aug. 26;Indian Creek

Sept. 2;Martinsville

Sept. 9;at Mooresville

Sept. 16;Plainfield

Sept. 23;at Perry Meridian

Sept. 30;at Decatur Central

Oct. 7;Franklin

Oct. 14;at Whiteland

(all games scheduled for 7 p.m.)


Coach: Mike Campbell

Last season: 2-8, lost to East Central in Class 4A sectional opener

Key returnees: TE Carter Campbell, OL Aidan Crist, WR Chance Glynn, DB Jackson Kidwell, DL Nathan Kremer, WR Ethan Pringle, LB Scott Raker, DB Colin Robbins and TE Jack Titzer, seniors; DB Josh Amburgy, RB Alan Burnett, DB Tanner Crouch, RB Jackson Haessig, DL Gabe Folco, OL Doug Hobbs, OL Kobe Keithley, OL Jaxton McClain, QB Brock Riddle and LB Cooper Smith, juniors

Top newcomers: K Jens Hvid, junior; DL Brady Cave, WR Bobby Emberton, OL Alex Kramer and DL Carter Swain, sophomores

Outlook: Last fall was a rough one for the Woodmen, who suffered seven double-digit losses and graduated several key cogs out of the lineup. This year’s Greenwood team has less size and less depth — but Mike Campbell is enamored with the toughness his squad showed during the summer. Riddle, a part-time starter last year, gives the team a more natural passing presence than it’s had in a while, so there may be a bit more of an aerial component to the offense than usual. Defensively, Raker, Smith and Crouch are the only returnees who had more than 10 tackles last season, so some more inexperienced players will need to take on larger roles. Danish exchange student Hvid has no football experience, but his leg strength has coach Campbell drawing comparisons to former Greenwood and Indiana University kicker Griffin Oakes. Greenwood will be an underdog in most of its games this fall, but this will be a scrappy outfit that will eagerly embrace the spoiler role.