FRANKLIN — No boys’ golf team in this week’s IHSAA State Finals knows The Legends Golf Club better than fifth-ranked Floyd Central.
The Highlanders will play in the state finals at the par-72 course for the fourth consecutive season, and they won the Spring Preview meet at Legends in April.
Today and Wednesday, the Highlanders hope their knowledge of Legends will propel them to the program’s third state championship.
Floyd Central begins its title quest this afternoon as it plays in the first round of the state finals at Legends. The top nine teams or the squads within 12 strokes of the lead after the first round will advance to Wednesday’s final round.
Cason thinks the Highlanders must shoot a team score between 295 and 300 to make the first-round cut.
“The biggest thing I preach to the kids is to play their own game,” Cason said. “They cannot put up any big numbers and they can’t give up. All five kids need to play well. That’s what I’m looking for.”
In this year’s Spring Preview, Floyd Central posted a winning score of 300. Three Highlanders each shot a 2-over-par 74, who were juniors Devin Jenkins and Daniel Shepard and sophomore Jack Sparrow.
Cason believes the Spring Preview victory and his troops’ play so far in the 2012 postseason give them some momentum heading into the state tournament.
“I think (the Spring Preview) and the way we played at sectional and regional give us some confidence,” Cason said. “We’ve always played (Legends) well.”
The Highlanders start the first round on the back nine today. But Cason does not care what side of the golf course his players begin the state finals.
“I don’t think that makes any difference if you start on the front or the back,” Cason said.
Providence also has gained a lot of knowledge about Legends over the past few years. The Pioneers enter the state finals with the longest active streak of state tournament appearances with five.
Like Cason, Providence head coach Ken Allender thinks his team must shoot around 300 to make the cut.
“I think we are capable of shooting 300,” Allender said. “I really like coaching these guys. They’ve got the talent. I’d like to see 300 out of them (today). It would be a good accomplishment for them.”
Providence played in this year’s Spring Preview, but did not fare as well as Floyd Central. The Pioneers shot a team score of 344 during the tournament as they battled cold conditions throughout the day.
Despite his squad’s rough outing, Allender thinks it was valuable experience for his golfers, especially his more inexperienced players in junior Robert Waiz and freshman Mitchell Allender.
“I think that tournament was good for those guys,” Coach Allender said. “The Spring Preview had around 15 top-20 teams in the state, so it was a good experience for us.”
Both the Highlanders and Pioneers played practice rounds at Legends on Monday. Cason says the dry weather in central Indiana has had a major effect on the course.
“It’s awfully dry up here, especially the rough,” Cason said. “I think the course will play shorter than normal.”
The Pioneers shot a team score of around 300 on Monday, and Coach Allender likes the condition of the course.
“The golf course is fine,” he said. “If you hit it in the rough, it will bounce and roll forever. The greens are in good shape.”
Joining Floyd Central and Providence in today’s first round will be Henryville senior Evan Embry, who will be making his first appearance in the state finals.
Embry played practice rounds at Legends on Friday and Monday, firing a 74 on Friday. Prior to those two practice rounds, he played Legends once just for fun. Embry has never played a tournament round on the course.
Embry must be among the top nine individuals on non-advancing teams in the first round to qualify for Wednesday’s final round. He also can advance to the final round by finishing within four strokes of the opening-round leader.
Henryville head coach Robin Embry says his nephew needs to shoot around even-par to have a good shot of making the cut.
“If he can hang around even-par, I think he’ll be OK,” Robin Embry said. “It’s one of those things where the more he plays the course, the more familiar he is with it.”
Coach Embry says Evan Embry is not happy just to be at state. The Hornet standout wants to be competitive.
“This is the icing on the cake for him,” Robin Embry said. “But he wants to shoot something under par. He’s not coming up here just to enjoy the weather.”
IHSAA STATE FINALS
• DATES: Today and Wednesday
• START TIMES: 7:30 a.m. each day
• PLACE: The Legends Golf Club, Franklin
• PAR: 72
• PARTICIPATING TEAMS: Brebeuf Jesuit, Carmel, Columbus North, Evansville Harrison, Floyd Central, Fort Wayne Dwenger, Heritage Hills, Indianapolis Cathedral, Jasper, Martinsville, Mishawaka Marian, Noblesville, Northridge, Penn, Providence, Tipton, Valparaiso, Warsaw, West Lafayette, Westfield, Zionsville.
• RANKED TEAMS: No. 1 Columbus North, No. 2 Brebeuf Jesuit, No. 3 Evansville Harrison, No. 4 Valparaiso, No. 5 Floyd Central, No. 7 Warsaw, No. 8 Jasper, No. 11 Heritage Hills, No. 12 Noblesville, No. 14 Westfield, No. 15 Zionsville, No. 16 Carmel, No. 19 Indianapolis Cathedral.
• TODAY’S TEE TIMES FOR AREA PLAYERS: 7:39 a.m. — Evan Embry, Henryville; 7:57 a.m. — Max Hupp, Providence; 8:06 a.m. — Robert Waiz, Providence; 8:15 a.m. — Mitchell Allender, Providence; 8:24 a.m. — Cory Cahalan, Providence; 8:33 a.m. — Bryce Very, Providence; 12:18 p.m. — Jay Holderman, Floyd Central; 12:27 p.m. — Austin Peckham, Floyd Central; 12:36 p.m. — Jack Sparrow, Floyd Central; 12:45 p.m. — Devin Jenkins, Floyd Central; 12:54 p.m. — Daniel Shepard, Floyd Central.
• NOTE: Fans can follow the IHSAA State Finals at www.ihsaa.org.