Tomorrow, August 18th, 2023, the Paoli Rams will kick off the new season with a trip down to Boonville Indiana. The 4A Pioneers are a tough introduction to a difficult 4-game opening stretch. Once again, we get the opportunity of covering Rams entire season thanks to the sponsorship of Rominger Farms. We look forward to documenting the journey.
The Rams are a young team. Fullback Trey Rominger is the only senior playing. He is also one the best running backs in the state of Indiana, receiving a nod as Top 25 Indiana Senior at the Colt’s hosted 2023 Griddy Awards. Rominger’s 1936 rushing yards from last season, makes him 2nd in the state for returning players. We’ll talk more about Trey later.
Yes, the Rams are a young team, but much of their core remains the same. The O-line starters return and can hopefully prop up one of the best running games in the state. It led to a respectful 7-4 record in 2022. The confidence and skills are there for Paoli to compete, it’s up to them to get over the mountain.
Paoli will be competing in one of the toughest sectionals around. Sectional 40 features 2A State Champions, the Evansville Mater Dei Wildcats, who are basically the size and skill of a small community college. To get to the Wildcats, the Rams might also have to face North Posey or Perry Central, teams they haven’t fared well against in the past. They have beasts on the lines, and quickness at the skill positions.
And that’s only in Paoli’s Sectional. Beyond that, you have the likes of Triton Central, as well the Linton Miners, who are in the mix for the top spot with Mater Dei and Triton Central.
2A isn’t an easy ride, a lot of these teams can play multiple classes up. So yeah, the post season is a mountain looming, but it must be one game at a time, and the first foothill is the Boonville Pioneers.
Paoli Rams 2023 Football Schedule
|Aug. 18||at||Boonville 4A||7:30 pm|
|Aug. 25||at||Corydon Central 3A||7:00 pm|
|Sep. 1||Springs Valley 1A ©||7:00 pm|
|Sep. 8||at||Perry Central 2A ©||7:30 pm|
|Sep. 15||West Washington 1A ©||7:00 pm|
|Sep. 22||Eastern Greene 1A||7:00 pm|
|Sep. 29||at||Crawford County 2A ©||7:00 pm|
|Oct. 6||at||Mitchell 2A ©||7:00 pm|
|Oct. 13||North Knox 2A||7:00 pm|
“Boonville is a solid team, they are big and have some very good speed. Defensively they present problems with their 3-3-5, we will have to get to the mike and prevent him from making plays like he did last year. Offensively they can be explosive, we have to stop the run first, make them one dimensional. ” Coach Dittmer shared about the upcoming opponent Boonville.
This is the second season of the Boonville versus Paoli experiment. The Pioneers are a very good 4A program who play mostly Evansville area teams. They were 8-4 last season and finished with a loss in the Sectional Championship game to Evansville Memorial.
Last year, the Pioneers capitalized on Paoli’s early season jitters with a 36-8 win. Boonville clearly had more size, but Paoli put up a good fight, and in the end, it was turnovers and missed assignments that hurt them.
The Rams are aware of the battle at Boonville, it’s a good opening test, because it doesn’t get any easier. In the second week, Paoli will be traveling to Corydon Central, to replay the action thriller from 2022, where the Rams won 67 to 40. It was touchdown after touchdown, and I think it’ll be much of the same. Expect a better defensive showing from Paoli, but streaking Corydon quickness. Corydon will look to the pass often, which can sometimes be a sore spot in the Rams’ defenses of old.
The third game is Paoli’s first one at home, against county rival Springs Valley. These two teams are basically out for each other’s heads, and being from outside the county, it’s an exciting to rivalry to take in. A must win game for either team, bragging rights is important when it comes to schools this close to each other.
Paoli won the Orange Bowl last year, 29-22, and I look for them to repeat. The Rams have a six-game winning streak and haven’t lost to the Blackhawks since 2015. The spirit is big around French Lick, but it’ll be squashed in Paoli.
The fourth week of the season will prove a real testament to what the Rams can achieve in 2023. For 3 seasons in a row, Perry Central has had Paoli’s number. If the Rams are still fighting to this point and manage to win this game, it could point to good things to come.
The next four games in Paoli’s schedule are generally when the team gets a little comfortable. They’ll face West Washington, Eastern Greene, Crawford County, and Mitchell. In the past they have found success in this four-game stretch, and I think it’ll be the same in 2023, but they must keep focus.
That focus is needed because the Rams generally get a rude awakening at the end of the season. It’s been North Knox the last couple. And by rude awakening, I mean a straight cross to the chin back to reality.
This is the third season I’ve had the chance to follow this Rams’ football team. I respect these young men and the accomplishment they’ve made over the years. So, I write this all with love. But with any team, the end of season brings a lot of mental stress and drain.
The Mountain they face is rough. They’ve faced it year in and year out. Its sometimes easier to admit defeat before even taking that first step, and heck, we’ve all been there, and I get it after standing next to some of those young men down in Evansville. That’s why it’s important to not go into cruise mode in the middle of season, and to stay motivated, be prepared to face North Knox, because they’re the last real test.
The challenge grows from there, it’s a mental game. Belief is a strong tool. Another strong tool is being ready to kick some… Well… going in there ready to do battle, angry as stick-stuck badger in fall, ready to be the quicker, meaner team. It’s a battle, a fight in the trenches, that extra push is sometimes all that it takes for that extra yard. Just believe, and well, find what pisses you off. But that’s just my small take.
Paoli Football Roster for 2023
New Faces take on Big Roles
The Rams skill positions were hit the hardest from graduations, but an athletic set of underclassmen seem prepared to take the reins. Braxton Elliot at QB/DB, SB/DB Brandon Cook, and SB/LB Austin Benales were all cornerstones, on both sides of the ball, and they’ll be missed as top producers.
Junior Fletcher Cole, will slide over from receiver/slot back, and take over the helm as Starting Quarterback. Cole, an excellent basketball player for the Rams, is no stranger to big plays. He was fourth on the team in yards, with 535 and 6 rushing touchdowns. He also had a couple receiving touchdowns and a pick. Cole’s speed and decision making will be a big piece of Paoli’s success in the coming season.
After the Ram’s scrimmage against Forest Park last Friday, we asked Head Coach Neil Dittmer how Cole was handling transition.
“He’s going to do a good job of being able to keep teams honest against us. He does a great job in the run game; he is physical and can be explosive. We are very excited to see him take the keys to the car and run with it. Teams will have to try and take away both the FB and QB.” Coach Dittmer said.
Other new faces on the offense will be sophomores Trey Minton and Dane Padgett, both starting at Slot Back. Neither got a lot of reps as Freshman, so it’ll be interesting to see how they step up.
At the practice I attended, Padgett, who wears the number 33, was the fastest Ram on the field. If that speed carries over into the game, it’ll be a nice 1-2-3 punch with running options. Minton will also be starting on the defensive side at Strong Safety. Might be worthwhile to keep an eye these two Sophomores.
Juniors Ready to Step Up
There are 14 Juniors ready to suit up for the Rams, a lot of them returning starters and hardened after last year. Busick, Drake, Baker, Hutcherson, and Reynolds will start at the line. They’re familiar with the role but will be expected to take it a step beyond this season, as they’ll be the key to every win.
Coach Dittmer had this to say after Friday’s scrimmage, “We looked good in spots and need to get better in spots. We did a nice job against the run, defensively. Offensively we got the edge really well but have to work on finishing blocks through the whistle.”
Jaxson Reynolds is going to be a threat on the defensive side of the ball. I could also see him playing some TE, or running the ball, because he is a sneaky athletic player with a lot to offer this Rams team. If I was going to pick a defensive captains from my vantage point of the team, it would be him and Trey Rominger.
The Ram’s Linebacker core has some hype around them this year, which is helped by a much-improved defensive line. Jareth Nunez displayed a lot of hustle at practice, and was pulling off some nasty plays. He took my notice, and Coach Dittmer’s, who’s saying he’s filling in well at inside linebacker spot.
Might as well keep your eyes on the whole defensive squad, because any of the starters can make big plays. Here are some players we think will stick out, Rominger and Reynolds, I’m liking the potential with Issiah Apple, Coy Busick, Nunez, Hickman, Spires, and leadership from Fletcher Cole at the CB spot.
Trey Rominger will continue to amaze.
Sadly, we’re coming into Trey Rominger’s last season with the Rams. I’m sure by now it is no secret to those in Paoli, or teams that have played them, that Trey is a generational talent that we do not see too often. His teammates know, we know, the coaches know, even the media powers that be, know.
In any given game, possibly multiple times a game, Trey Rominger will take a handoff, break off one of two tackles at the line of scrimmage. Cut to the corner while breaking three defenders’ ankles, then end up thirty yards down the field carrying one defender on his back while fighting another one off his legs. I’ve seen him gain ten, twenty yards extra in this scenario, after already gaining 30 before contact, and sometimes still get the touchdown.
That may all seem like an over exaggeration, but it is not. He’ll be the focal point on both sides of the ball, involved in some piece of the play regardless of if he has the ball or not.
It’s not a one man show, Trey can’t do it alone, and he knows it. I think he and his teammates share a general respect for one another. They like Trey. They know he’s great, but he’s not the type of player that’s going around flaunting or looking for a comment in the media. He’s quiet, does his thing, runs over a few people, and then is the nicest guy you’ll meet. And with Trey being the only Senior this year, I hope the rest of the team follow his example of the work and dedication he puts into any sport he’s involved in. They all deserve to play to their potential.
Rominger finished 2022 ninth on the Indiana Rushing list, with 1936 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also was voted Top 25 Indiana Football Player by Griddy’s. He also already holds Paoli career rushing yard record. All that remains is that elusive sectional win, and this would be the year to do it.
Trey hopes to rush for over 2,000 yards this season, and I candidly suggested he shoot for 3,000 instead. We’re hoping for big things out of this young man. The town of Paoli needs to be out, at the games, supporting Trey and his team, because I guarantee they will put on a display. A lot of highlight reels. And its not every day a town is gifted with these type of players.
The fans are an integral part of a team’s success, the 12th man, and the support is noticed and important. If you can, get out on the road and travel with us to Boonville to take part in the opening of Indiana high school football. Game starts promptly at 7:30 pm tomorrow.
Regardless of the score, it’ll be a tough fought battle with two teams adjusting to the growing pains of a new season. If you can’t come to the game, listen on the radio. Show your support on social media by sharing posts from the schools and coaches. Share this post. Get the word out about this team.
We also want to thank Rominger Farms once again this season and allowing our exclusive coverage of the Paoli Rams football team to be possible for 2023. Rominger Farms is one of the largest family-owned farms in Orange County, and we’re proud to have their support.
If you would like to join Rominger Farms in sponsoring us, please send us a message. We have cheap weekly game packages to help get your business name out there. Let us know how we can improve your business reach while you help us grow as a local Southern Indiana media source.