2011 Paoli Rams Background Info
by Timothy Grimm of www.nhsrecords.com
TWO WITH RETURNING ALL-STATE RECOGNITION
On paper, the 2011 Paoli Rams are a team to be reckoned with. Off to a 6-1 start, the Rams return a 2010 Associated Press 1st Team All-State defensive back in Trevor Axsom and a 2010 AP Honorable Mention All-State running back in Garrett Shephard. They have scored 50 or more points three times this season and are undefeated at home in Cook Field.
Theirs is a program ripe with recent successes. In 2010 they were 9-3 and won the Patoka Lake Athletic Conference in which they compete. In 2009, the Rams finished 13-1, won their conference, and defeated Evansville Mater Dei to win the class 2A Regional. In 2008 they were 10-2.
The high schools in their conference include Crawford County High (2A) in Marengo, Mitchell High (3A) in Mitchell, Paoli (2A), Perry Central High (1A) in Leopold, Springs Valley High (1A) in French Lick, and West Washington High (1A) in Campbellsburg.
PURPLE AND GOLD
The Rams’ school colors are Purple and Gold, but the gold on their uniforms takes on a yellow hue. They were purple jerseys with yellow numbers, purple pants, and yellow helmets bearing a purple “P” and numbers for home games. For away games they wear white jerseys with purple numbers and purple shoulder stripes.
Their coach, Brian Balsmeyer, is in his sixth season at Paoli as head coach and has a 44-22 record during his tenure. His son, Brett, is a freshman and the 2nd string quarterback for the Rams.
TWO YEAR STARTER AT QUARTERBACK
The starting quarterback for Paoli is 6’1”, 185 lb senior #2 Brian Wilson. Wilson is in his second season as the Ram’s QB. Last season he threw for 699 yds and 5 TD’s while rushing for 1,306 yds and 13 touchdowns. He is having a comparable season in 2011 and after 7 games his passing stats are: 36-55 for 461 yds, 4 TD, and 2 INT. He has also averaged 6 yards per carry while rushing for 443 yards.
In 2011, the Rams are an Option Offense team much like the Huskies. They “Run First” and pass only as necessary. When they do throw the ball, Wilson’s two preferred targets are the aforementioned All-State returnee, 5’8” 165 lb, senior #4 Trevor Axsom and 5’11” 157 lb, junior #21 Colton Phelps. The two wide receivers are tied for the team lead in receptions with just 8 apiece.
IFCA JR ALL STATE RUNNING BACK
Besides Wilson, the driving force of the rushing attack is a 2010 Indiana Football Coaches Association Junior All-State Selection 5’9” 186 lb, senior #27 Garrett Shephard. Last season, Shephard gained 944 yards on 165 carries and scored 9 touchdowns. He is on a pace to better those numbers in 2011. With three one-hundred yard games under his belt, he is averaging over 8 yards per carry and has gained 638 yards while scoring 9 touchdowns.
THE LIGHTNING IN THE OFFENSE
The “lightning” strike on offense, however, is provided by none of the above players. 6’2” 175 lb, junior wing back, #19 Lee Wroblewski is the game breaker on the Rams’ ball club. Featured on reverses and counter plays, Wroblewski has averaged 19.3 yards per carry this season.
That’s the correct number: NINETEEN YARDS PER CARRY.
Despite not having carried the ball more than 7 times in any game, Wroblewski has gained a whopping 599 yards on just 31 carries and scored 12 rushing touchdowns. In addition, he has caught 4 passes for 87 yards (21.7 per catch) and another touchdown.
He plays defense as well and has 26 solo tackles, an interception, and three passes defended from his safety position.
The other stalwart on defense is 6’3” 196 lb, senior, #72 Zach Bradbury. Playing both end and tackle depending upon the defensive set, Bradbury leads the team with 41 solo tackles and 29 assists. He also has one quarterback sack to his credit.
Attached is a 2011 Paoli Roster compiled by www.nhsrecords.com that includes offensive and defensive stats for the Rams through last week’s game. Projected starters are listed with gray shading. Of note is that Lee Wroblewski only played in the first quarter of their most recent game and may have incurred some sort of injury.
Click here for a printable 2011 Paoli Roster.
The Paoli Rams play their home games at Cook Field located at 501 Elm St., Paoli, IN 47454.
The Rams dress 65 players, 30 of whom are freshmen. They have 10 sophomores, 15 juniors, and 10 seniors. From the looks of things, their offensive line is comprised of players who stand 6’2” 240, 6’3” 196, 6’2 228, 5’9” 250, and 5’9” 200. All of them appear to start on both offense and defense.
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE
Comparing schedules can be a dicey proposition. It is in this area, though, that we get the greatest insight into any potential weaknesses that the Rams may have.
Paoli is a Class 2A school. Lest anyone take 2A schools for granted, be reminded that 2A Mater Dei beat the Huskies soundly this season and Paoli has beaten Mater Dei recently (2009 Regional Championship). Given Paoli’s last three seasons’ won-loss record, be assured that they play “at the top talent level” of 2A, not the bottom.
- SALEM—Paoli beat 3A Salem in their first game of the season by a whopping 67-0. The Lions are only 1-6 on the season, however, and not a strong team.
- CRAWFORD COUNTY—In week 2, they beat 2A Crawford County 75-7. The Wolfpack are winless this season and one of the weakest teams in the state as ranked by the Sagarin Ratings System.
- MITCHELL—The 3A Blue Jackets fared only slightly better. Paoli beat them by a score of 34-0. While Mitchell has three wins on the season, two of those were against 1A schools (including Tecumseh).
- SPRINGS VALLEY—The 1A Blackhawks were the first team to manage two touchdowns off the Paoli defense and sport a 4-3 record, but two of those wins were over Crawford County and Mitchell—two teams that represented little challenge to Paoli. They lost 32-14.
- WEST WASHINGTON—Another 1A school, the Senators sport wins over Crawford County and Springs Valley and have lost to every other team on their schedule. Paoli won 50-13.
- CORYDON CENTRAL—Here’s where the comparisons look to become relevant. Paoli’s only loss of the season was to the 6-1 3A Panthers. The Sagarin Ratings have Corydon and Evansville Central as teams of comparable strength. Corydon, on the strength of one long drive and two long scoring passes, had a 21-0 lead at half. They were able to contain Wilson and Shephard and only yielded a single 3rd quarter touchdown.
- PERRY CENTRAL—The 1A Commodores have a 4-3 record, but two of those wins were over Crawford County and West Washington by close scores—teams that Paoli blew out. Paolo won 46-28.
A GOOD TEAM
None of the above should be construed to mean that Paoli is not a good team. They are a VERY good 2A team—the Sagarin Ratings have them among the Top 20 in the state in 2A. Certainly their competition has not been strong, but in the games where they were supposed to win big, they did so.
They have played consistent football and do not appear to turn the ball over very much. We will be traveling to their home stadium where they are undefeated in recent seasons.
SAGARIN RATINGS: NORTH A 5 POINT FAVORITE ON THE ROAD
This team is no push over despite its size. On strength of schedule, the Sagarin Ratings would suggest North as a five-point favorite. That differential “feels” about right—but only if the Huskies show up to play football comparable to what they played last week. If they get off the bus with anything but their “A” game, the Rams are the perfect example of a small school that will leap at the chance to knock off a bigger opponent.
They don’t play “small”. They have good sized linemen and an experienced backfield. They sound like a slightly downsized version of Henderson County… another team that North did not fare well against on the road.