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November 1, 2012

H.S. FOOTBALL: Sectional Championship picks

Daniel can cement legacy on Friday

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Moments after Indian Creek defeated Charlestown 48-28 in the Sectional 23 championship game in 2010, Pirates coach Jason Hawkins and long-time Braves coach Mike Gillin met at midfield for handshakes.

Gillin and Hawkins exchanged pleasantries. Then Gillin said something to the affect that he was glad he would never have to face Charlestown’s quarterback Aaron Daniel, who he assumed was a senior and graduating.

“He’s only a sophomore,” Hawkins said to the best of my recollection.

The stunned look on his face said: “That kid’s going to be playing for two more years? We’re all in trouble.”

As it turned out, Indian Creek moved to Sectional 22 — out of the Pirates’ sectional and regional — but Gillin was right. Everyone was in trouble.

In Friday’s 49-6 sectional semifinal win over Corydon Central, Daniel — now a senior and the holder of nearly ever Pirate record there is to own — ran for five touchdowns and threw for another in the first 14 minutes.

For the season, Daniel has 1,420 yards on the ground and 1,613 through the air. Considering he’s played into two second halves this season, those numbers are stunning. He’s averaging 12.1 yards per carry with touchdowns on 27 of his 117 runs. He’s completed 97 of 140 passes for 29 touchdowns and five interceptions and he’s been sacked just five times.

For the year, the state’s highest-scoring offense has outscored its opponents 451-16.

Still, there’s one thing Daniel hasn’t done — lead his team to a sectional championship. He’s been close twice, but he hasn’t gotten the job done yet.

Friday is his chance.

CLASS 3A

• Sectional 23 — Charlestown 28, at Brownstown Central 7: Since losing to Charlestown 41-3 in Week 2, Brownstown Central has been impressive — very impressive. They’ve won nine straight and the Braves were only challenged by Heritge Hills in their 27-24 sectional opener. In the 10 wins, they’ve given up 81 points. In the one loss, 41.

That’s just how good Charlestown has been. It’s hard to imagine a way the Braves can make up 38 points, but if any coach can come up with a way, it’s Reed May.

The problem is that as good as the Pirate offense has been, the defense has been just as good. The last time Charlestown trailed — or gave up meaningful points — was after Brownstown’s early field goal gave it a 3-0 lead.

This is a dominant Charlestown team — as dominant as I’ve seen in a long time, if ever — and it will take a special team to beat the Pirates. The Braves are good. They’re not “special.”

• Sectional 24 — At Evansville Memorial 26, Gibson Southern 21: This is a game that could go either way. Gibson Southern may have an advantage with nine wins to four for Memorial. However, the Tigers are the defending sectional champions, play that killer Evansville schedule and are at home, giving them a slight edge.

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