By STEVE KRAH
Success in one sport can lead to another.
That’s is the hope for baseball at North Vermillion Junior-Senior High School in Cayuga, Ind., after the school saw its football team make it to the state championship game last fall and its boys basketball team advance to the regional championship contest this winter.
Six starters on the football squad that finished as IHSAA Class 1A state runners-up are returning starters for the Falcons in baseball — senior two-way lineman/right fielder Derek Foncannon, junior quarterback/shortstop Brennan Ellis, junior running back/center fielder Wyatt Reynolds, junior center/catcher Kale Flynn, junior offensive tackle/inside linebacker/third baseman Josh Little, and junior wide receiver/left fielder Lucas Cook.
The Falcons’ top two pitchers — senior right-hander Alex Tallman and junior righty Luke Osborn — are also back for 2019.
Hank Lopez, who is defensive coordinator in football and the father of Derek Foncannon (a Vincennes, Ind., University baseball commit), returns for his fourth season as North Vermillion’s head baseball coach. His assistant coaches are Maris Clark and Paul Hamilton.
“We want to be mentally tough,” says Lopez of his team’s core values. “They’ve put in some adverse situations in practice that hopefully make the games a little easier.
“We have high expectations.”
Lopez says there are usually 18 or 19 players in the program for varsity and junior varsity teams. This year it should be 15. The Falcons have a large junior class, but just one sophomore.
Feeding the high school program is a seventh and eighth grade junior high club coordinated by Lopez which plays 12 to 14 games in the spring.
A North Vermillion Pony League squad for grades 7-10 plays about that many games plus an end-of-season tournament in the summer.
North Vermillion (enrollment around 240) is a member of the Wabash River Conference (with Attica, Covington, Fountain Central, Parke Heritage, Riverton Parke, Seeger and South Vermillion).
WRC teams meet once each twice to determine the conference champion, either in weekday home-and-home series or Saturday doubleheaders.
The Falcons are scheduled to open the season March 28 in a non-conference game against Eastern (Pekin) at Vincennes University.
North Vermillion is slated to meet Peru May 4 at Wabash College in Crawfordsville.
Among other non-conference foes are North Central (Farmersburg), Shakamak and West Vigo along with Illinois teams Bismarck-Henning, Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman and Westville. Cayuga is less than five miles from the Indiana-Illinois state line.
The Falcons are part of an IHSAA Class 1A sectional grouping with Attica, Covington, Parke Heritage (consolidation of Rockville and Turkey Run) and Riverton Parke. North Vermillion has won five sectional crowns — the last in 1997.
NV home games on-campus. Lopez says there has been discussions about re-working the infield and mound.
IHSAA official practice began March 11. During the limited contact period, Lopez had his team working out when they could find gym space.
“We threw in he gym whenever we could get it,” says Lopez. “If it was nice enough outside, we’d throw in the parking lot. We did conditioning in the hallways of the high school. We did baseball and flip drills in the weight room.
“We did a lot of conditioning, arm strengthening and working on swing technique and instilling the fundamentals. We wanted to hit the ground running when practice starts.”
Before going to North Vermillion, Lopez was assistant to Charlie Martin at Riverton Parke for one season then spent 10 years as Panthers head coach.
Lopez is a 1998 graduate of Vincennes Lincoln High School, where Chris Rhodes was his head coach, and 2002 graduate of Indiana State University, where he earned a elementary education degree with a social studies endorsement.
“He was a hard-nosed, fundamental-type of coach,” says Lopez of Rhodes, who was also his seventh grade basketball coach. “He was very successful in Vincennes.”
The Rhodes-coached Alices won sectional titles in 1996 and 1997 and a regional championship in 1996. Rhodes later coached at DeKalb.
Katelyn Foncannon, daughter of Lopez, is a cheerleader at Vincennes University.
Hank Lopez is the head baseball coach at North Vermillion Junior-Senior High School in Cayuga, Ind. He is also defensive coordinator for the football team.