---- — BROWNSTOWN — Sometimes, two is better than one.
The Brownstown Bombers and St. Elmo Eagles are hoping that idiom is true, as the two schools are combining this year to form the Brownstown/St. Elmo Bombers.
It's the first of the co-op programs on the boys side of athletics for the two schools, as the girls basketball team formed a co-op last year and the softball team has been a co-op for years.
So while both teams lost players to graduation, the two squads have bolstered each other.
"That's a good start right there," said head coach Ryan Beccue. "Having 18 players go out instead of 10 or 11 is huge. It creates competition, so kids work harder for playing time. The more kids go out, the better chance of putting together a better lineup."
St. Elmo went 11-7 last season, falling to South Central in the Kinmundy regional semifinal. The Cougars made it to the sectional championship after downing St. Elmo. Brownstown losts its regional opener to Patoka in the same regional, with Patoka advancing to the semis.
The pitching staff will be anchored by a player from each of the teams. Senior Jacob Behrends from Brownstown and fellow senior Levi Maxey will be the two workhorses for the Bombers.
A number of upperclassmen — namely Drake Hall and Dalton Parks — will contribute to the rotation, as well as sophomore Noah Flowers and freshman Landon Feezel.
"It will be nice to have some options past about three guys like we have been used to," Beccue said.
The upperclassmen also lead the team, as the Bombers bring five seniors and two juniors to the lineup.
"We have five seniors and seven upperclassmen who have played and contributed for their teams," Beccue said.
Senior Dustin Lawson will form the back half of the battery, providing veteran leadership to a similarly experienced pitching staff.
St. Elmo's Parks will lead the outfield, after providing a consistent bat for the Eagles during the spring, batting over .400.
Nick Bauer and Nate Matthews both started for their respective teams in the outfield last year, and should be in the mix during fall ball this year. Andrew Koonce brings youth to the mix, as the sophomore has a slick glove and could find his way into the lineup.
Behrends and Maxey should split time at shortstop, depending on who is pitching and who's not. Maxey is also listed as a third baseman, and could play there when both he and Behrends are off the hill.
Flowers should start at third base after starting all year during the spring as a freshman at the hot corner. Malachi Maxey will probably be the second baseman after a successful freshman campaign during the spring.
Hall is moving across the diamond and playing first base for the Bombers.
The Bombers have 11 underclassmen, and thanks to the improved numbers, they can form a junior varsity team.
"We will be playing some JV games this fall in order to get playing time for our younger players," Beccue said. "These guys have some skills so we want to get them on the field as much as possible in order to build for our future."
The co-op will be playing at Bob Page Field in Brownstown, as the Bombers are officially hosting the co-op.
Their first season gets underway against an NTC opponent, as the Bombers open Tuesday against the Dieterich Movin' Maroons.