Doghouse may be empty, but there is an Irwin on the roster
He has even switched his jersey number from 24 to 23—his brother’s old number.
Brandon Irwin was the 2008 Class A player of the year after leading the Bulldogs to back- to- back state championships. Now this year’s team is not projected for such lofty heights, they are concentrated on just reaching the first step—a playoff spot.
The Bulldogs lost four starters and seven seniors off last season’s 20-7 team which became the first Thorndale squad to miss the playoffs since 2002 after going 10-4 and finishing fourth in rugged District 27-2A.
Irwin and junior Tanner Thomas represent all the experience the Bulldogs will possess from last season.
“Obviously, Tanner and Dillon will be expected to do a lot this year,” said Doug Franklin, who starts his fourth season as head coach with a 54-35 mark. “Everyone else is a newcomer. I think this team can be good, but our younger players, which is most of our team, will have to rise to the challenges of varsity basketball.
At 6-foot-2 and an almost identical frame as his brother (now an all-conference performer at Howard Payne), Irwin averaged 7.7 points a game, which was second to departed senior Isaac Leyendecker’s 13.7.
Leyendecker also paced the Bulldogs in assists, three-pointers and steals.
Thomas put up 6.1 points per game.
However, help is on the way from a group of junior varsity players who suffered just one loss last season.
Sophomore R iley Schaefer heads up the list of newcomers and could find himself in the starting lineup.
There are also juniors Sam Stockton, Keon Mays, Aaron Laurence, Sam Richter and sophomore Eric Guzman.
At 6-foot-2, sophomore Lorenzo Llana will represent the Bulldogs in the paint.
“I expect us to be playing for a playoff spot much like last year,” Franklin said.
The Bulldogs tossed up the season Tuesday with a 50-30 road victory at Rosebud-Lott.
Irwin pumped in 25 points to lead the way as Thomas chipped in nine.
Thorndale constructed a comfortable 30-13 lead by halftime.
Coach—Doug Franklin, 4th year (54-35). 2010 record—20-7 District rercord—10-4 (4th) Returning starter—1 Key losses—Josh Ware, Job Mason, Isaac Leyendecker, Matt Schneider, Paxton Jordan, Landon Falke. Key returnees—Dillon Irwin 6-2, Sr., Tanner Thomas, 5-11 Jr. Top newcomers— 5-11 So. Riley Schaefer, 5-7 Jr. Sam Stockton, 5-7 So. Eric Guzman, 5-7 Jr. Keon Mays, 6-2 So. Lorenzo Llana, Aaron Laurence, Sam Richter. District outlook—2nd Last playoff appearance—2010 Last district championship—2008