For the past five seasons, the Mid-Southern Conference football championship has basically come down to the opening weekend of league play.
Either Charlestown or Brownstown Central has won at least a share of the MSC championship over the last five years — and in most of those seasons, the difference was the Week 2 matchup between the Pirates and Braves.
Charlestown won the conference title in 2007 (Jason Hawkins’ first year as the Pirates’ head coach), a share in 2008 and another outright title in 2009. In 2007, the Pirates handed Brownstown its only MSC loss, 35-31. The next season, a 28-24 defeat at the hands of Charlestown was the Braves’ lone MSC loss.
Brownstown dominated the conference for the past two decades, including taking the last two championships. Last year, the Braves earned a 36-31 home win over Charlestown en route to an unblemished league mark last season.
Nearly everyone expects Brownstown and Charlestown to once again determine the MSC champion on Friday.
“I think so. I think whoever wins Friday will get a tie at the worst,” Hawkins said, noting that he expects Corydon Central to also challenge for the MSC crown.
“I think Corydon’s in the mix, but who knows?” Brownstown coach Reed May said of the MSC race. “It’s a long season, but obviously [the Pirates are] the favorites.”
For the past 20 years, May’s Braves have had a stranglehold on the MSC. That is, until Hawkins arrived in Charlestown.
While animosity could be expected, May has nothing but praise for Hawkins.
“He’s done a great job,” May said of the Pirates’ sixth-year leader. “When I first came to Brownstown 20 years ago, [former Charlestown coach] John Mastin had one of the dominant programs in the MSC, along with Clarksville and Salem. [Hawkins has] rebuilt them into a powerhouse again. He’s done a great job. He’s an outstanding coach and he’s building a great program.”
But May’s Brownstown program is still the gold standard in MSC football. May’s Braves had won 186 games heading into this season, nearly 10 victories per year, while Hawkins’ Pirates are averaging eight wins per season during his tenure.
“We’ve had a pretty good run for the last five years. But if you multiply our success out over 18 years, it still doesn’t match what Reed May has done,” Hawkins said. “That says it all.”
Charlestown is coming off a 67-14 win over Madison in Week 1, while Brownstown drubbed Mitchell, 39-6 to open the season. Neither coach was particularly happy with his team’s Week 1 performance and neither was surprised by his upcoming opponent’s result last Friday.
“I figured that’s what the score would be,” May said of Charlestown’s win over Madison. “It didn’t surprise me much.”
When asked what impressed him about the Pirates when he reviewed the video of Charlestown-Madison game film earlier this week, May said: “Their whole team. They have all of those starters back. They’re good. They’re the dominant team [in the MSC] right now.
“[Hawkins has] great senior leadership, a great quarterback [in Aaron Daniel], big, strong linemen and their defense flies around. They have a great football team right now.”
May said before the season that his team may be too young to compete with Charlestown for the MSC championship. After last week, he’s more pessimistic, at least outwardly.
“We’ll find out on Friday,” May said. “We didn’t play very well [in a 39-6 win over] Mitchell, so we’ll see on Friday. We’re young and we know it.”
Hawkins is certain Brownstown — as young as it may be — will come to play.
“They’re very fast on defense and they can do multiple things on offense that can cause problems,” Hawkins said. “We’re old and mature, and I hope we’re ready for a game like this. I expect us to play well.
“It’s going to be a good game on Friday. If neither team expects it to be a good game, they’re highly mistaken. If you’re coming to see a blowout either way on Friday night, you’re going to the wrong stadium.”