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October 10, 2013

GREG'S FOOTBALL PICKS: Week 8

Hawkins, Denison pushing all the right buttons

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Just five weeks ago, things looked bleak in Charlestown and at Providence.

Both proud programs were 0-2 and had been outscored by a combined 152-77.

Charlestown, which was coming off a 12-1 season that included a Mid-Southern Conference and a sectional championship, was beaten by a Madison team that has currently lost five straight games then fell behind currently-unbeaten Brownstown Central 33-6 before showing signs of life in the second half.

Meanwhile, Providence was shut out by New Albany before giving up 60 points against Floyd Central in its first two outings.

In the last five weeks, however, things have changed — in a big way.

Charlestown has reeled off five straight wins, including four shutouts. Last week, the Pirates beat 5-1 Corydon Central, 35-0. The Charlestown defense has allowed 14 points since giving up 40 in the loss to Brownstown.

After beating Holy Cross 27-0 for its first win of the season, Providence fell at Indian Creek 41-21. Following a forfeit victory over Indianapolis Manual, the Pioneers made a switch at quarterback. It worked.

In the past two weeks, the Pioneers earned the upset of the season in a 22-point win over Jeffersonville before shellacking Mitchell 67-0 (in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score).

Last year, Charlestown coach Jason Hawkins looked like a genius. The truth is most coaches would have won big with quarterback Aaron Daniel, several outstanding skill players and a stifling defense. But if there was any doubt during a six-year stretch in which he accrued a 52-16 record, Hawkins has proven he is an elite coach by fielding a team in 2013 that has improved week after week.

The Pioneers’ improvement also is a testament to a great coaching job. After years under former coach Gene Sartini, Larry Denison took over the head coaching job at Providence. It’s never an enviable position to follow a legend.

If questions had arisen about Denison’s ability to lead a team following an 8-14 start to his head coaching career, those questions have quickly vanished.

Over the past two weeks, Denison has pushed all of the right buttons — including putting his best athlete, Owen Mattingly, at quarterback. Suddenly, the Pioneers look like sectional contenders, if not favorites.

As big as the win over Jeff may have been, beating a sizzling Charlestown team may be the biggest task ahead of the Pioneers yet in the week’s most intriguing game.

On to the picks:

 

CHARLESTOWN AT PROVIDENCE

There has never been any question about how good the defense has been at Charlestown, but just a few weeks ago, the Pirates was having little success moving the ball and scoring points.

Hawkins made some changes and they worked like magic. Freshman running back Antonyo Gaddie looks like the next big Pirate star. He rushed for 151 yards and scored three touchdowns in the third quarter of Charlestown’s 35-0 win over Corydon Central.

After four games, Providence had been gashed for 129 points — and that included a Week 3 shutout win over Holy Cross. In four wins, the Pioneers have surrendered just 13 points.

What were weaknesses early in the season now appear to be strengths for both teams.

Providence’s offense against Charlestown’s defense will be one of the most interesting matchups of the season. Now, the Pirate offense against the Pioneer defense appears to be a compelling clash, as well.

What seemed to be just another game a few weeks ago, now looks like a must-see event.

This is a tough one to pick. After the Pioneers’ win over Jeff, it’s tough to doubt their ability to beat just about anyone. Charlestown isn’t just anyone.

THE PICK: Charlestown 20, Providence 14.

 

COLUMBUS EAST AT JEFFERSONVILLE

In last week’s loss to New Albany, a Red Devil star may have been born.

Jeffersonville freshman quarterback Cam Northern entered in the second quarter and threw for 318 yards and four touchdowns.

Northern is big, athletic and bright. He’s going to make Jeffersonville proud for the next four years.

Unfortunately, this week he’ll be a freshman going up against one of the best defenses in Indiana. The Olympians are giving up just 14 points per game — and most of those points have come against the Olympian B team.

East has been so close to a state championship so many times. This is finally the Olympians’ year.

The Red Devils may push the eventual Class 4A state champions for a while, but in the end, they’ll drop their fourth straight game.

THE PICK: Columbus East 35, Jeffersonville 20.

 

NEW ALBANY AT SEYMOUR

If there were any questions before, there’s no longer any doubt: New Albany is for real.

Just two seasons after going 1-9, the Bulldogs are in the Hoosier Hills Conference fight.

They’ll need help from Jeffersonville this week and wins over Seymour and Floyd Central to tie for the league crown.

The win over Seymour will not be a problem. The rest could be troublesome.

THE PICK: New Albany 52, Seymour 7.

 

JENNINGS COUNTY AT FLOYD CENTRAL

Speaking of bounce back seasons. After winning just twice a year ago, the Highlanders have been incredibly impressive since a Week 1 62-16 loss to Male. Floyd has averaged 49 points per game in its last six contests.

After starting 0-4 and giving 49, 32, 55 and 63 points in those losses, Jennings County has outscored its last three opponents 97-18 in consecutive wins under first-year coach Dustin Roller.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, Floyd Central isn’t Madison, Bedford or Seymour. The Highlanders will continue to roll.

THE PICK: Floyd Central 44, Jennings County 13.

 

BROWNSTOWN CENTRAL AT SILVER CREEK

Despite giving up 31 points to North Harrison a week ago, Silver Creek’s defense has had an outstanding season.

Brownstown is the ninth-leading scoring team in the state at 52 points per outing. The Braves have scored at least 28 points in every game and 50-plus in five of its seven wins.

As good as its been, the Dragon defense won’t be able to stop the Braves.

THE PICK: Brownstown Central 50, Silver Creek 14.

 

CLARKSVILLE AT NORTH HARRISON

Just a few weeks ago, this looked like a potential win for Clarksville. Not now.

North Harrison is one of the MSC’s most improved teams. Their running attack has been unstoppable as of late and their defense has been solid.

THE PICK: North Harrison 34, Clarksville 6.

 

CRAWFORD COUNTY AT EASTERN

With a win on Friday, Eastern will double its win total from a year ago. If the Musketeers can repeat that for the next couple of seasons, they’ll be 8-1 in 2015.

THE PICK: Eastern 22, Crawford County 8.

 

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