In his sophomore year with the Brownstown Central football squad, Gavin Bane was tossed around on the varsity scout team.
Bane, a 5-foot-8 slot receiver and corner — who also saw time running the ball — had to match up with senior counterparts that boasted seven plus years of experience, and weightlifting, under their belts.
While he spent most of his time with the third team and junior varsity squads in 2014, Bane saw a little time in the varsity games — when the Braves held a substantial lead.
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He finished with 17 carries and 126 yards with three touchdowns on the season.
Now, with 21 seniors gone from last season, Bane has heeded the opportunity to get playing minutes — and now serves as quite possibly the most electrifying member on the Braves’ roster.
Through seven games, Bane leads Jackson County with 661 rushing yards on 51 carries and is second on the team with seven rushing touchdowns.
Receiving, Bane has 11 catches with 279 yards and seven receiving TDs.
The junior also has one kickoff return for a touchdown, which was around 70 yards, against Seymour.
At right corner, Bane has 26 total tackles.
“We knew that (Bane) was an athletic kid and he’s been a pretty pleasant surprise (this season),” Braves coach Reed May said. “He has a lot of moves when he runs the ball, and has also done a pretty good job on the defense. We knew that he had a lot of potential, but since we had such a big senior class (in 2014) the young kids didn’t get a lot of reps. He’s done a good job for us.”
Bane said that he learned a lot his sophomore year, and that the battles in practice developed his game.
“I feel like the scout team helped me get a little tougher,” Bane said. “I was always getting beaten up and knocked on my butt 24/7 on the scout team. It helped me get ready for varsity.
“I was second string but didn’t get to play much. I went in during the fourth quarters of games sometimes. I never got to see time with the starters.”
While Bane isn’t the biggest guy, his speed makes up for his size.
In the summer, Bane ran a 4.55 seconds 40-yards dash — improving .25 seconds from his sophomore time.
“I started stretching a lot and doing leg lifts,” Bane said of his improvement. “I’m doing more weight lifting with my legs.
“My speed and knowing where to go with the ball has gotten better. I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better vision with holes, and just knowing where to run.”
May said that Bane has put more work into practices since the beginning of the season, and that its translated to games.
“He’s got more speed than I thought he had,” coach said. “In the winter, his times didn’t really show but that changed in the summer. He has played with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder and is a competitor.
“Early in the year, I was worried a little with his practice habits and I talked to him, but he has really done a good job practicing since. A lot of kids who have talent don’t understand that. You can get by with talent for so long but once you get to a big game you need to have good practices behind you. That’s when you develop pretty good athletes.”
Bane has split time running the ball, in the Braves’ shotgun offense, with seniors John McKinney, Justin Donnells and Matthew Nierman.
The Braves spread carries around on offense, often utilizing the slot receivers in multiple ways.
“I’ve been just going as hard as I can,” Bane said. “I think the new offense has changed things a lot. We have been running the ball a lot. We’ve been blocking really well on the offense.”
Since the beginning the season, Bane has gained confidence in his new role as a playmaker for the Braves.
“I love being a big part of the team and having a role. I always try to fill a big role when I’m on the field to make the coaches and team happy.”
Bane said that the defense needs to play tougher, the offense is clicking and that the team has the ability to succeed in the postseason.