News and Tribune

August 28, 2013

GREG'S FOOTBALL PICKS: Bulldogs can take another big step Friday

Creek can move to top of MSC for first time

By GREG MENGELT
greg.mengelt@newstribune.com

NEW ALBANY — New Albany’s football program has expectations as high as it’s had in many years.

On Friday, the Bulldogs showed why. They got contributions from their offense, defense and special teams in an impressive 28-0 win over rival Providence.

But Castle is a different animal. The Knights are 23-2 over the past two seasons, have won three sectionals in the past five years, and in Bulldogs’ coach Charlie Fields’ two years at the helm, Castle hasn’t allowed an offensive touchdown to New Albany.

A win on the road in Newburgh would be a signature victory for the Bulldogs.

“It would be huge for this program,” Fields said. “This is definitely a measuring stick as far as how far we’ve come as a program.”

New Albany won’t just have to overcome the Knights. It will also have to overcome the two-plus hour trip to Warrick County. The Bulldogs have lost 18 straight games following trips at least that far.

“Obviously, we have some hurdles to jump,” Fields admitted. “I think we’re veteran enough to handle it.”

On to the Week 2 picks:



NEW ALBANY AT CASTLE

New Albany has turned a corner. It is a program on the rise.

Going to Newburgh and getting a win is another matter. That would be a tough task for a team with a history of winning big games, something the Bulldogs don’t have.

Don’t let last week’s 30-point loss to Terre Haute North fool you. This is still a strong Castle team.

It will take an enormous effort, but for the first time in years, New Albany can beat Castle on Friday. If it does, it would be favored in its next four games before going to Columbus for a big Hoosier Hills Conference clash.

Then we’re talking about the makings of a very special season.

THE PICK: Castle 26, New Albany 14.



SALEM AT SILVER CREEK

It’s only the first game of the Mid-Southern Conference season, but Silver Creek has a chance to do something it’s never done — stand on top of the MSC standings, if only for a while.

The Dragons have weapons all over the place and their defense was probably better than expected in last week’s 46-30 win over Springs Valley, forcing seven fumbles and recovering five.

Bobby Haines and Brad Graham scored three times apiece, future star Austin Hasting added a score. Wide receiver Drew Sherrow didn’t have a big night, which he’s capable of doing, and Creek still nearly put up a ton of points.

I’ve covered a lot of high school football players in my time as a sports reporter and few have had the heart for the game equal to R.J. Hartsfield, who is now the head coach at Salem. With the help of former Lions head coach Brian Motsinger, Hartsfield will turn the Salem program around in time.

On Friday, however, Silver Creek simply has too many weapons for a Lions’ team that is obviously on the rise.

THE PICK: Silver Creek 35, Salem 20.



CHARLESTOWN AT BROWNSTOWN CENTRAL

As big as the news that Silver Creek is on top of the MSC would be, this is the game with serious conference implications.

Last week, Brownstown beat Mitchell 74-0 and Charlestown was embarrassed by a Madison squad that won one game a year ago.

However, last time similar results happened in the opening weekend, Brownstown had to hold off a game Pirate team that then won eight-straight games.

We could be looking at a very similar circumstance in 2013. It would be foolish to count Charlestown out after one week. The Pirates are going to win this season; it’s just a matter of when their offense turns a corner.

I’m predicting it will this week. It just won’t be enough against another strong Reed May-coached Braves’ squad.

Come late October or early November, however, it may be a different story.

THE PICK: Brownstown 21, Charlestown 13.



PROVIDENCE AT FLOYD CENTRAL

The two sides lost by a combined 74 points a week ago. Both played very good teams. Neither is that bad.

However, that’s all I am sure of. This game is a complete mystery.

Here’s what I can tell you about Friday’s News and Tribune Game of the Week: Providence won a year ago and seems to be a better team in 2013.

So I’m leaning Pioneers in a game I could see going one of any number of directions.

Read more on the Game of the Week in Friday’s News and Tribune.

THE PICK: Providence 27, Floyd Central 22.



EASTERN AT CLARKSVILLE

This is another game that should be ultra-competitive with the winner moving to the top of the standings with the Brownstown-Charlestown winner and the Creek-Salem winner.

My gut tells me that Clarksville may have just one or two too many athletes. If the Generals can get the ball in the hands of guys like Marquise Parrish and Nate Knight, they could make up for last week’s 53-point loss.

THE PICK: Clarksville 26, Eastern 18.



SEYMOUR AT JEFFERSONVILLE

One coach told me earlier this summer that Seymour was one of the worst teams he’d ever seen for a school its size.

Jeffersonville, meanwhile, scored 60 points against Bosse with a quarterback in his first game under center and its All-State tight end nursing an injury.

Let’s hope the Red Devils don’t embarrass the Owls by reaching triple digits.

THE PICK: Jeffersonville 68, Seymour 14.

 

FRIDAY’S GAMES

COMPILED BY KEVIN HARRIS



PROVIDENCE AT FLOYD CENTRAL

• TIME: 7 p.m.

• PLACE: Ron Weigleb Stadium.

• RECORDS: Providence 0-1, Floyd Central 0-1.

• SERIES RECORD: Floyd Central leads 22-19.

• SERIES STREAK: Providence won last year; Floyd Central has prevailed in four of the last five.

• LAST MEETING: Aug. 24, 2012 at Murphy Stadium — Floyd Central 27, Providence 19.

• KEY FACTS: The Pioneers have not started the season 0-2 since the 2008 campaign. They went 5-5 that season, prevailing in five of their final seven regular-season games. … If the Highlanders drop to 0-2 on Friday night, it will be the second consecutive year that they have lost their first two games. The last time Floyd Central had back-to-back 0-2 starts was in 2006 and 2007.

• ANALYSIS: For Providence to be more productive on offense, it must run the ball better. The Pioneers failed to do that against New Albany last Friday, resulting in a 28-0 setback. They might have a better shot at establishing the ground game versus the Highlanders, whose defense has struggled the past few seasons. The Providence defense had a tough time slowing down Bulldog running back Tuwan Payton last week and will face another formidable rusher this week in Floyd Central’s Garry Posey.

 

SEYMOUR AT JEFFERSONVILLE

• TIME: 7 p.m.

• PLACE: Blair Field.

• RECORDS: Jeff 1-0 (0-0 HHC), Seymour 0-1 (0-0 HHC).

• SERIES RECORD: Jeff leads 29-24-3.

• SERIES STREAK: Jeff has won two in a row and five of the last seven meetings.

• LAST MEETING: Aug. 24, 2012 at Bulleit Stadium — Jeff 52, Seymour 14.

• KEY FACTS: Red Devil senior running back Austin Hines tied the school record with six rushing touchdowns in last Friday’s 60-48 home win over Evansville Bosse. Hines shares the record with former Jeff back MacArthur Lee, who set the mark in 1968 against Martinsville. … Red Devil quarterback Jamal Britt broke a sophomore school record with 183 passing yards last week against Bosse.

• ANALYSIS: Jeff’s offense did not miss a beat last Friday with 60 points and 543 total yards. The Red Devils will try to keep their offense rolling against a Seymour defense that gave up 59 points in its loss last week at Franklin. Jeff’s defense needs some work though, after giving up 48 points and 354 passing yards to Bosse.

 

CHARLESTOWN AT BROWNSTOWN CENTRAL

• TIME: 7 p.m.

• PLACE: Blevins Stadium.

• RECORDS: Charlestown 0-1 (0-0 MSC), Brownstown 1-0 (0-0 MSC).

• SERIES RECORD: Charlestown leads 23-22.

• SERIES STREAK: Charlestown has won two in a row and five of the last seven.

• LAST MEETING: Nov. 2, 2012 at Blevins Stadium — Charlestown 62, Brownstown 10, Class 3A Sectional 23 championship.

• KEY FACTS: The Pirates’ 24-7 loss to Madison last Friday was the first time they have scored in single digits in 35 games. Prior to the setback to the Cubs, Charlestown’s last single-figure output was in a 47-8 loss at Brownstown on Aug. 27, 2010. … If the Pirates lose on Friday, it will be the second time in three seasons they have started a campaign 0-2. In 2011, Charlestown produced an 8-3 record after dropping its first two games.

• ANALYSIS: The Pirates showed they have a long way to go on offense while breaking in several new starters. Charlestown compiled seven points and only 136 total yards against a Madison defense that showed some improvement from last year. The Pirates’ offense will have a difficult task of bouncing back against Brownstown, which will be looking to avenge each of its two 2012 losses to Charlestown by a combined score of 103-13.

 

SALEM AT SILVER CREEK

• TIME: 7 p.m.

• PLACE: Silver Creek High School.

• RECORDS: Silver Creek 1-0 (0-0 MSC), Salem 0-1 (0-0 MSC).

• SERIES RECORD: Salem leads 3-0.

• SERIES STREAK: Salem has won three in a row.

• LAST MEETING: Aug. 24, 2012 at Paul Graves Field — Salem 28, Silver Creek 14.

• KEY FACTS: In the Dragons’ four victories since they resurrected their varsity program two years ago, they have averaged 48.5 points per game. That includes their 46-30 win in their season opener at Springs Valley last Friday. … The Lions have won only six games the past three seasons. Three of those wins were against Silver Creek.

• ANALYSIS: It seems the Dragons have answered one of their biggest preseason questions, which was who will pick up the slack left by graduated running back Layne Taylor? That person is senior Bobby Haines, who had a 49-yard touchdown run and a 79-yard TD reception from quarterback Brooks Howell last week. Haines has showed early he can be a difference-maker for Silver Creek and Salem will definitely need to keep an eye on him on Friday night.



NEW ALBANY AT CASTLE

• TIME: 8 p.m.

• PLACE: Castle Stadium.

• RECORDS: New Albany 1-0, Castle 0-1.

• SERIES RECORD: Castle leads 9-7-1.

• SERIES STREAK: Castle has won three in a row.

• LAST MEETING: Aug. 24, 2012 at Buerk Field — Castle 26, New Albany 0.

• KEY FACTS: New Albany’s 28-0 victory over Providence last Friday marked the first time the Bulldogs have defeated the Pioneers in back-to-back seasons since they won five in a row from 1986-90. Plus it was the first time New Albany has shut out Providence since 1988. … New Albany’s last victory over the Knights came in 2010 at Buerk Field, 31-22. Since that contest, Castle has outscored the Bulldogs in its last three victories in the series, 127-7. The Knights shut out New Albany twice in that span.

• ANALYSIS: Despite a solid defensive effort and 235 rushing yards from Payton against Providence last week, the Bulldogs have some things to clean up. They committed 13 penalties for 107 yards and turned the ball over four times versus the Pioneers. If New Albany produces those types of negative numbers against Castle, the Bulldogs can expect another loss to the Knights.

 

EASTERN AT CLARKSVILLE

• TIME: 8 p.m.

• PLACE: Clarksville High School.

• RECORDS: Eastern 0-1 (0-0 MSC), Clarksville 0-1 (0-0 MSC).

• SERIES RECORD: Clarksville leads 6-1.

• SERIES STREAK: Clarksville has won three in a row.

• LAST MEETING: Oct. 19, 2012 at Eastern — Clarksville 32, Eastern 0, Class 2A Sectional 31 first round.

• KEY FACTS: The Generals have scored in single digits in back-to-back games. They lost 56-7 at Lawrenceburg in the Sectional 31 semifinal last season, and then suffered a 61-8 setback to Southridge in last Friday’s season opener. The last time Clarksville had two consecutive single-figure performances was during weeks three and four in 2009. … The Musketeers have lost all three of their trips to Clarksville. In fact, Eastern has a 2-16 record in Mid-Southern Conference games since it started its program in 2007.

• ANALYSIS: Both the Generals and Musketeers need to get their respective offenses going after each team scored in single digits last week. Turnovers and field position will be critical factors in this one.