Sanders In Pursuit

Future Hoosier Jeff Sanders has his sights set on accomplishing something that's never been done at Springfield (Ill.) Sacred Heart Griffin H.S.

Future Hoosier Jeff Sanders has his sights set on accomplishing something that's never been done at Springfield (Ill.) Sacred Heart Griffin H.S.

Winning a state championship.

"It's never been done at our school," said the 6-4, 235-pound tight end. "Coach (Ken) Leonard has been there three or four times and has always come back with that second-place trophy. It would be great to be known as the group that finally got him in state championship trophy and ring."

While Sacred Heart Griffin is without a state championship trophy in its school trophy case, it is considered one of the top programs in the state. The school has finished as the state runner-up on four occasions, most recently in 2003, and has made 25 state tournament playoff appearances. It produces a steady stream of Division I players, including current Hoosier tailback Kenni Burns.

Sanders hopes that the 2005 squad can finally capture that elusive state championship.

"They've always said that whichever team actually wins it will be classified as the greatest team to come through here," said Sanders. "Considering some of the guys that have gone through this program, that would be outrageous to be called the greatest group."

Sanders and his teammates certainly have a chance to earn that label. Currently ranked No. 2 in the state, Sacred Heart Griffin is off to a 3-0 start. They opened the year with a 40-15 win over defending Class 4A state champion Montini Catholic, and followed that up with a 50-3 win over Springfield H.S. This past weekend, SHG beat Jacksonville (Ill.) H.S. 36-7, avenging a loss to the same school in last year's state tournament.

"We had it out for Jacksonville because of last year," said Sanders.

Sanders, meanwhile, has been an important part of the offense, which is averaging 42 points/game. He has 10 catches on the year, including seven in the week one win over Montini Catholic.

While his attention has been on helping SHG in its pursuit of the elusive state title, Sanders is also keeping an eye on his future program and teammates in Bloomington. He said he recently sent his recruiting coach, Assistant Head Coach Bill Lynch, an e-mail after the Hoosiers' 35-31 win over Nicholls State.

"I was congratulating him on the win and made a joke about winning in the last 47 seconds," said Sanders. "It's kind of scary, but they pulled it off."

Indiana came away with the win thanks in large part to a passing attack that eclipsed the 300-yard mark under the guidance of sophomore quarterback Blake Powers. That passing attack often uses a pair of tight ends in its sets, something that appeals to Sanders.

"It's very exciting to see how that offense uses the tight end," said Sanders. "It's one thing to get the ball in high school, but I can't wait for the chance to possibly make that happen in college as well."

Editor's Note: Sanders is going to begin providing regular diary/journal entries to as his team continues its pursuit of a state championship this fall. Be sure to visit later this week for Sanders' first installment. Top Stories