John Halvorsen (15) of Greenfield-Central tries to dribble the ball during their semi-final match between two East Central defenders on October 9, 2019. (Rob Baker)

HANCOCK COUNTY – The football season for high school boys is fast approaching with auditions and first official training for Monday and the first games slated to begin in a little over two weeks.

Players from across Hancock County honed their skills this summer, competed on their respective club teams, and worked towards the opening night.

While the calendar changes from July to August, several questions arise in anticipation of the upcoming 2021 season.

Will a county team emerge this fall to recapture the Hoosier Heritage Conference team title over defending champions Shelbyville (12-7, 6-1 HHC) or runners-up Yorktown (14-3-1, 5-2 HHC)?

The Class 3A Greenfield-Central Cougars (5-8-1, 5-2 HHC) can resume their dominance in the Section Championship after last year’s setback that ended the program’s title streak with four consecutive years (2016-19) ?

Will the 3A Mt. Vernon Marauders (8-9-1, 3-4 HHC) mix of youth and leadership lead to a victorious season and a possible first section championship since 2015?

Can the 3A New Palestine Dragons continue to advance after finishing 2-13 overall and 1-6 in the HHC last season?

The only way to find out is on the pitch where the rivals will collide to vie for post-season momentum and demonstrate bragging rights. Right now, here are some pre-season standouts projected that are seen in no particular order, that could take a run at end-of-season honors and more.

Bryce Kinnaman, Greenfield-Central

Greenfield-Central Incoming Junior Bryce Kinnaman had a busy off-season this summer. As a member of Indy Phoenix FC in 2005, Kinnaman, a center mid / striker, helped his U16 club team finish second in the 2021 US Youth Soccer National Presidents Cup in Des Moines, Iowa this month. The five-day event was a major motivator for the standout Cougar, who received an Honorable Mention as runner-up in All-Hancock County in 2020 to fill the void left by the completion of Jackson Findley, one of the team’s top offensive threats. Together with the new senior John Halvorsen, the duo could cause problems for the opposing teams.

John Halvorsen, Greenfield-Central

Speaking of Greenfield-Central’s John Halvorsen, the new senior defender was a force to struggle with on the pitch when at full strength. Halvorsen was more of an intermediary in his sophomore year with nine assists during the Class 3A Cougars run for the fourth straight title in 2019. Vernon during the regular season. Halvorsen was named an All-State Honorable Mention by the Indiana Soccer Coaches Association and received the honor of the All-Hoosier Heritage Conference in 2020. He was one of five Cougars who formed the 2020 All-Hancock County Team behind Award Winner of the Year Abe Buescher also received All-State Honorable Mention recognition.

Garrett Canova, New Palestine

As a junior midfielder for the New Palestine Dragons in 2020, Garrett Canova made the most of his third college season. As a team leader in his father’s squad, head coach Brett Canova’s son helped shape cultural change for the future and was rewarded for his work ethic and competitive play. Garrett, the lone New Palestine Dragon selected to be on the All-Hoosier Heritage Conference team, was also named to the All-Hancock County’s team in 2020. A seasoned college veteran, Canova is set to make an important contribution to the Dragons’ plans this fall as they seek to pursue a potential winning record after a tough 2-13 campaign.

Elliott Canova, New Palestine

A 2020 freshman, Elliott Canova was young but spirited on the court for the New Palestine Dragons. Canova, the team’s second best goalscorer in 2020, just keeps getting better with age. As a member of Indy Phoenix FC in 2005, Canova teamed up with Bryce Kinnaman of Greenfield-Central to finish second overall in the US Youth Soccer National President Cup tournament in Des Moines, Iowa. The New Year was supported by his father and New Palestine Boys Football head coach Brett Canova, who was an assistant coach for Indy Phoenix FC in 2005.

Zach Johnson, Mount Vernon

As the second midfielder in 2020, Mt. Vernons ‘Zach Johnson has sped up the Marauders’ offensive with eight goals in 17 games played and added three assists. The new junior made two multi-goal games on the pitch last fall and two goals against Hoosier Heritage Conference opponents New Castle and Delta during Mt. Vernons 4-0 and 4-1 victories. Johnson was an all-HHC boys soccer team last fall, but he more than deserved it. He has earned the All-Hancock County’s honor, however, and along with Mt. Vernon could forecast five more recurring goalscorers from a year ago in 2021.

Tyler Webb, Mount Vernon

During Tyler Webb’s 2020 junior campaign, the Mt. Vernon Marauders’ striker was the epitome of balance. In 18 games, Webb scored six goals and finished with six assists. His six goals unfolded over the course of four competitions including a hat trick against Indianapolis Bishop Chatard during the regular season to give Mt. Vernon a 6–3 win. Webb, a new senior, finished third on goals scored for the Marauders last fall but failed to top the All-Hoosier Heritage Conference team list. He received an Honorable Mention from All-Hancock County along with incoming senior Jordan Small who could be another focus in head coach Matt Mayhew’s plan for his 2021 roster.