We’re definitely in the dog days of summer.
The heat that usually comes with the dog days may not be here, but the boredom is starting to set in.
It’s been a month and a half since the 2013-14 school year ended and there’s still not much going on in the local sports scene.
So it’s got me looking ahead to the upcoming school year — which officially kicks off when football teams are allowed to begin practice in a little less than a month on Aug. 11 and everyone else will follow Aug. 13 — and some storylines I’m looking forward to seeing play out.
As we count down the days until the 2014-15 school year, here are some interesting storylines to follow:
New-look L-P football
When I arrived at the NewsTribune in July 2007, Joe Sassano had recently been hired as La Salle-Peru’s football coach, so his style of football is all I’ve seen played by the Cavaliers.
L-P hired James Bragg to replace Sassano on April 9, and he’s bringing new ideas to the Cavs.
When he was hired, Bragg said he favors the Power I and the Wing T, which is a dramatic shift from the spread offense L-P and many other teams have used in recent years.
It’ll be interesting to see how the pound-the-ball style fares and if it can help the Cavs turn things around after a 1-8 season.
L-P volleyball’s encore
The Lady Cavalier volleyball team had a magical run all the way to the state championship match last season.
L-P graduated some of its key pieces in setter Katie Olson, middle hitter Rachel Hunt and libero Abby Turczyn, but the Lady Cavs certainly have many talented players returning.
Back are hitters Taylor Gibson, Cierra Johnson, Shana Puetz and Ellie Senica. That’s a pretty good nucleus to build around.
If L-P gets solid play from its new setter(s) and plays good defense like it usually does, the Lady Cavs could make another deep postseason run.
New runners at the top?
For the past four years, two names have dominated the area cross country and distance track scene — Maria Baldwin and Dani Aurit.
Both racked up numerous state medals in both sports, but now both have graduated.
The question is, who will rise to the top of the area distance scene?
L-P senior-to-be Lesly Rocha was the NT Cross Country Runner of the Year last season after getting all-state in Class 2A. She also earned two state medals in track.
She’ll certainly be among the best in the area next season along with teammate Megan Krolak, who made state in both sports as a junior.
Of course, Bureau Valley senior-to-be Regan Weidner could be a factor if she can stay healthy after an injury-plagued junior year.
We’ll see who else steps up to fill the void left by Baldwin and Aurit.
Putnam County in 2A
The Putnam County boys and girls basketball teams have both had great success in recent years in Class 1A.
However, both were bumped up to Class 2A for this school year.
The last time the PC boys were bumped up it didn’t go so well as the Panthers were bounced in their first regional game.
Both PC programs lost significant talent, but both also return some key pieces, so we’ll see how they handle the stiffer competition.
Long-time St. Bede football and baseball coach John Bellino stepped down from his baseball position in May and has said this is very likely his last football season leading the Bruins.
The St. Bede football team returns a ton of talent from last year’s 5-5 Class 3A playoff team, so the Bruins should be able to send Bellino out with his fifth consecutive postseason appearance.
Then in the spring, someone has the unenviable task of taking over for Bellino, who has led the Bruins to a 625-347-3 record and a state title since taking over in 1979.
It sure will be odd to cover a St. Bede game without Bellino in the dugout.
Kevin Chlum is the NewsTribune Sports Editor. He can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.