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Smarter, faster Harrison looks to build on sectional championship season

Terry Peebles was a two-time All-American quarterback and the 1995 Division III National Player of the Year at Hanover College. Peebles success as a player has translated to the coaching ranks.

Posted: Aug 22, 2019 1:17 AM
Updated: Aug 22, 2019 11:53 AM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Terry Peebles was a two-time All-American quarterback and the 1995 Division III National Player of the Year at Hanover College.

Peebles success as a player has translated to the coaching ranks.

Prior to Peebles hiring at Harrison in 2014, the Raiders had endured three consecutive winless seasons.

Peebles has helped the Raiders finish .500 or better in four of his first five seasons including a sectional title last season — the program's first since 1994.

Harrison accomplished that feat with an offense ranked in the bottom of the state in passing. In fact, Harrison averaged just 53 passing yards a game in 2018.

The Raiders running game and defense made up for the flaw. While Peebles' defense returns only four starters, they are good ones. All-State defensive end Jacob Cain is back as well as leading tackler Quinton Wood.

Back to the offense.

The former quarterback Peebles has his QB in Tyler Knoy and the sophomore has some weapons.

Omarion Dixon, Marcel Atisso and Stevie Coffing return in the backfield and wide receiver Jake Smith is now a senior. He's also healthy. Smith dealt with a shoulder injury for most of last season.

Speed kills: Smith, Coffing and Atisso competed on the 400-meter relay team that placed seventh at the IHSAA state finals.

Peebles believes this year's skills players and defense are the fastest in his tenure. Peebles also feels his team is quick to learn.

"I think we're a smart team," said Peebles. "Just on offense, nine of our 11 starters have over a 3.0 GPA. Our defensive guys — Quinton Wood has an ACT is the 30s (1-36 scale), Jacob Cain is a 3.8-3.9 student so they're just so smart. You don't have to say things two and three times. You tell them something one time and they can get it. They're fun kids to coach."

Harrison is different from a season ago but the offense will continue to rely on Dixon. The 6-foot-1, 205 pounder rushed for nearly 900 yards and seven touchdowns as a sophomore.

Dixon has made strides in several different areas including his leadership skills.

"His maturity level is quite a bit better than it has been," said Peebles. "He's doing much better in the classroom. His freshman year he wasn't in the weight room a whole lot. The last year he was in weights class and physically he's blown up a little bit. He does a good job of helping the other young guys and he's really become a team leader for us."

Knoy has noticed a change in Dixon's physique.

"He put on I want to say like 20 pounds, 30 pounds since last year — beefed up, got bigger," said Knoy "He runs like crazy man."

Cain is looking forward to seeing how the Raiders workhorse back performs this season.

"He's just an animal," said Cain. "When the whistle blows at practice people are scared because he's going to keep going after that whistle blows. He just puts people on their butts everyday. It's fun to watch."

Harrison opens the new season at Westfield on Friday. The Raiders have dropped their last eight contests to the Shamrocks dating back to 2010.

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