By GREG MENGELT
Through four games, Jeffersonville looked unbeatable. It’s offense looked unstoppable.
But in the past two weeks, the Red Devils have turned the ball over 15 times and lost back-to-back games to Floyd Central and Providence.
“You can’t turn it over seven times and expect to win,” Jeff coach Lonnie Oldham said about last Friday’s loss to the Pioneers. “We’ve turned it over 15 times in the last two games. It doesn’t matter who you play, you’re not going to win.”
Worse than the turnovers was the lack of enthusiasm on the Jeff sideline against a rival last Friday. In the 35-13 loss to the Pioneers, Oldham said his team’s attitude was unacceptable.
“You only get nine opportunities to play [every regular season],” he said. “We were dead. I don’t understand it. I feel like we have a good team, but you have to play with intensity and attitude and effort and emotion. We had no enthusiasm, no anything.
“Why we came out flat? I have no idea. It was like we were at a practice on a Monday.”
Jeff goes to New Albany this Friday to renew the rivalry that goes back to 1904. The Bulldogs are 4-2 and arguably the best team the Red Devils have played this season.
“We better come with some intensity,” Oldham said. “If we don’t play well this week, we’ll get beat by 50. We’re coming into it reeling. Dropping three in a row would not be real good.”
— Greg Mengelt
PIRATES MAKE A STATEMENT
Entering the month of September, the Charlestown Pirates under coach Jason Hawkins were looking at a two-game losing streak, having dropped the first two games of the season following a season with a sectional championship, and without a doubt, one of the most successful seasons in the history of Pirate football.
September is ending quite differently as the Pirates are now riding a four-game winning streak including last Friday’s 35-0 victory over Salem.
Call this a statement game as the Pirates and Lions both entered the game with identical 3-2 records. Also identical was that each team was 3-1 in the Mid-Southern Conference.
Other similarities: Each team had lost to a nonconference rival (Charlestown to Madison, Salem to Paoli) as well as Brownstown Central in conference. Likewise, both teams have defeated Clarksville, North Harrison and Silver Creek.
It didn’t seem likely that one team would dominate the other by 35 points.
“We’ve got a good defense and they’re getting better,” said Charlestown coach Jason Hawkins. “Eventually, it will get to the point where they are giving the offense more opportunities — and better chances to move the ball. Our goal has been to get better every week. We’ve got a showdown coming up this week with Corydon [Central]. We’re trying to get ready for the sectional.”
— Mike Riley
DRAGONS GET IDENTITY BACK
The Silver Creek football team had seemed to suffer a bit of an identity crisis of late, but the Dragons restored their reputation last Friday at Clarksville.
After averaging a meager nine points in its previous three games, including a shutout loss to Charlestown, Silver Creek piled up 53 points against the Generals in a Mid-Southern Conference victory that evened its record at 3-3 overall.
From a scoring standpoint for Silver Creek, that was more like it. Since varsity football returned to the school in 2011, the Dragons had been known as a high-scoring unit with a troubled defense.
This season, however, that D is experiencing a major breakthrough. It has allowed 22 points or less in every game but one — and that was a lopsided 46-30 win over Springs Valley in the opener.
The steady improvement defensively hasn’t coincided with a leap forward offensively. But Silver Creek hopes breaking the 50-point threshold versus the Generals will springboard it forward through the rest of the season.
The Dragons had solid balance in both yardage and individual performance, gaining 322 yards on the ground and 133 through the air behind running backs Bobby Haines (231 yards rushing, three touchdowns) and Brad Graham (99, 1), wide receiver Austin Hasting (five catches, 90 yards, one TD receiving, 68-yard kickoff return TD) and quarterback Jake Meadors (9-of-13 for 133 yards, two passing TDs, one rushing TD).
“We should take this victory and take it into the rest of the games with momentum,” Haines said afterward. “Hopefully we have what it takes to get more victories.”
They will if their offense resembles what it looked like Friday night.
— Adam Pruiett
GLESING NOT SURPRISED BY EAST’S FAST START
Class 4A No. 1 Columbus East shocked hundreds of fans with their fast start in last Friday’s 76-30 home victory over Floyd Central. The Olympians exploded to a 35-0 lead with 1:45 remaining in the first quarter.
But one person inside Stafford Field was not stunned by East’s start at all — Floyd Central coach Brian Glesing.
“No,” Glesing responded when asked if he was surprised being down 35-0 early. “They’re a good team. We can’t give up big plays and you’ve got to do assignment football and we weren’t able to do that. They were able to block us up front and we weren’t able to get off blocks.”
With the Highlanders (4-2, 3-1 Hoosier Hills Conference) trailing 49-7 at halftime, Glesing was positive during his intermission speech to his players. He reminded his troops that his 2009 FC squad lost 42-17 at East, but rebounded to win a sectional championship later that season.
Glesing says for the Highlanders to repeat that feat in 2013, they must improve on the field and be more mentally tough.
“We’ve got to get better for the tournament,” Glesing said. “We all had an emotional high [in Week 5] when we were on top of the world beating Jeff. Now, we’re at an emotional low. That’s what life is about. You’ve got to deal with those emotional highs and emotional lows, and we’ve got to be somewhere right in the middle. That’s how you handle it. We’ll see how we handle it and I think we’ll do fine.”
— Kevin Harris
NEW PIONEER UNDER CENTER
Providence coach Larry Denison said the Pioneers’ locker room took the switch of starting quarterback from Nathan Banet to Owen Mattingly well.
Banet, who had started under center for the Pioneers in games during the last three seasons, was replaced by Mattingly following Providence’s 41-21 loss to Indian Creek on Sept. 13.
The Pioneers had an extra week to prepare for incoming Jeffersonville, following a forfeit from Indianapolis Manual the following week, and the Pioneers rode Mattingly, who scored three times and gained 191 yards on the ground, to a 35-13 victory over the favored Red Devils last Friday.
Denison pointed out that Mattingly and Banet are both seniors and were willing to do what made the team more successful.
And Banet, one of the team’s captains, is still a focal point of the defense and made several tackles against Jeff from the defensive backfield.
“Nathan hasn’t gone anywhere,” Denison said. “He’s a kid we expect to make a lot of plays for us and he’ll continue to do that. We still need his toughness and ability on the field.”
— Jon Reiter
GENERALS COULDN’T TAKE ADVANTAGE OF OPPORTUNITIES
It’s not always sensible to analyze a 53-22 loss like Clarksville had on Friday and bemoan the amount of missed opportunities when the opposition — in this case Silver Creek — is scoring at such a frequent rate. But the Generals would be justified in taking that position.
That’s not to say Clarksville would have won if it had capitalized on the five turnovers the Dragons committed. But the final score in the MSC contest would not have been so one-sided.
Indeed, the one thing the Generals did exceptionally well against Silver Creek was create turnovers. They recovered three of the four fumbles by the Dragons, and they also picked off two passes. It wasn’t in bulk, either: Two of the takeaways occurred in the first half and three in the second.
The pieces were in place for a competitive contest. Unfortunately for Clarksville, the Generals only scored six points off the turnovers — and that touchdown came after the last takeaway, as they came up empty on their first four chances to make Silver Creek pay for its mistakes.
Andrew Wright had both of Clarksville’s interceptions, with the second pick setting up his 12-yard touchdown pass to Jonathon Booth. Clarksville could have made it a ballgame if that sequence had played out a little more often last Friday.
MUSKETEERS LET CHANCE GET AWAY
After a 1-4 start that included teams like West Washington, Corydon Central and Brownstown Central on its schedule, Eastern had a favorable schedule by comparison in the second half of the season.
If there was going to be a turnaround, it needed to start against North Harrison last Friday. Instead, the Musketeers played maybe their worst game of the season in a 34-7 loss to the Cougars.
“We just came out very, very flat,” Eastern coach John Dablow explained. “We feel like we did not match their physical play. They beat us up front and we didn’t respond. We went the other direction, unfortunately. We picked a bad game to have one of those games. I hope we can turn it around.”
After a 55-point outing in a win over Clarksville, the Musketeers have endured some costly injuries. The result has been 29 points in the four games since the season’s lone victory.
Dablow refused to let the injured players be an excuse for poor performances.
“We’re pretty beat up, but what team isn’t at this point in the season?” Dablow said. “Hopefully, we’ll get some guys back and maybe that will help a little bit, but we just have to play better than we’ve been playing.”
NEW ALBANY’S DEFENSIVE TURNAROUND
In the past two years, New Albany has dropped 160 points in three games against Jeffersonville.
However, after another stellar performance in a 35-7 win over Madison, it’s becoming apparent that this isn’t the same Bulldogs’ defense.
Two years ago in Fields’ debut, New Albany gave up 28 or more points eight times in 10 times and gave up 40 or more six times.
Last year, the Bulldogs surrendered more than 31 points just twice — both against Jeffersonville.
This year, only No. 1 Columbus East has scored more than 14 against the Bulldogs, who have two shutouts and have held four of six opponents in double figures.
Despite the 48 points by East, New Albany’s defense ranks 34th in the state at 12.5 points per game allowed.
“We think [our defense] has come a long way,” New Albany coach Charlie Fields said. “We still don’t think it’s where it needs to be, but we think we’re on the right track.”
Either way, it’s safe to say Jeffersonville will see a different New Albany defense than it has in some time on Friday.
“We think we’re better defensively, but we really respect Jeff,” Fields said. “Our kids do not think even for one second that they can take lightly playing Jeff High, even with the problems they’re having right now.”
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
• Tuwan Payton, New Albany: For the third time in six weeks, Payton is the Offensive Player of the Week. In Friday’s 35-7 win over Madison, Payton carried 36 times for 327 yards and two touchdowns. He set the tone early with 70 yards, including a 9-yard touchdown run, on the game’s opening drive.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
• Dorian Noel, Providence: Noel was one of several Pioneers deserving of the honor after last Friday’s 35-13 win in which Providence forced seven Jeff turnovers. Noel had a pair of tackles and three interceptions. He returned his first pick 35 yards to the Jeff 15-yard line to set up an Owen Mattingly TD run that gave the Pioneers the lead for good.
OTHER WEEK 6 STARS
• Jason Jent, Silver Creek: Jent had 12 tackles and an interception in the Dragons’ 53-22 victory over Clarksville on Friday.
• Tyler Combs, Charlestown: Combs had seven tackles and a 69-yard interception return as the Pirate defense shut down Salem in a 35-0 victory.
• Andrew Wright, Clarksville: Wright had a pair of interceptions and five tackles as the Generals fell to Silver Creek.
• Billy Wingate, Providence: Wingate had eight solo tackles, three assisted tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble in the Pioneers’ win over Jeff.
• Bobby Haines, Silver Creek: Haines had 231 yards and three total touchdowns as the Dragons defeated Clarksville for a Mid-Southern Conference victory.
• Ryan Lenz, Floyd Central: Lenz tied a school record with a 70-yard punt in the Highlanders’ 76-30 loss to Columbus East.
• Antawon Swims, New Albany: Swims had a pair of interceptions as the Bulldogs beat up on Madison.
• Hunter Crace, Charlestown: Crace caught a pair of TD passes from quarterback Darren Taylor in the Pirates’ Mid-Southern Conference victory over Salem.
• Owen Mattingly, Providence: In his first start under center, Mattingly rushed for 192 yards and three scores in the Pioneers’ win over Jeffersonville.
• Brian Arnold, Eastern: Arnold carried 16 times for 86 yards and caught a pass for 8 yards in the Musketeers’ 34-7 loss to North Harrison.
• Gaige Klingsmith, Floyd Central: Klingsmith had 169 yards on 25 carries in the Highlanders’ loss to East.
• Adam Hoff, Charlestown: Hoff finished with seven tackles and a quarterback sack in the Pirates’ triumph over Salem.
• Austin Hasting, Silver Creek: Hasting caught five passes for 90 yards, including a 30-yard TD pass from Jake Meadors, and returned a kickoff 68 yards for a touchdown in Creek’s win.
• Jacob Spencer, Providence: Spencer had four solo tackles, two assisted tackles, one quarterback sack, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and a blocked extra point in Providence’s win over Jeffersonville.