October 11, 2013

Logan football faces New Castle for possible last time

Cass faces big test against Mac; No. 2 Winamac hosts Caston.

By Beau Wicker and Josh Sigler

---- — New Castle’s abrupt departure from the North Central Conference means tonight’s game at Berry Stadium will not count in the NCC standings.

It could be the final time Logansport and New Castle ever meet in football or any sport for that matter, at least in regular-season play, after being league rivals since 1926.

The Berries (2-5) host the Trojans (0-7) at 7:30 p.m. tonight and hope to send them off with a loss like five other NCC schools have this season.

“This is maybe the last time we ever play these guys. We want to leave an impression,” Logan coach Brad Urban said. “There’s not any bad blood. They’re not part of the NCC anymore. It’s maybe the last time we ever play them so we want to go out on a winning note.”

The Berries continued their improved play last week in a 14-7 loss at Kokomo, their closest game against the Wildkats since a 36-29 loss in 2007. The Berries had beaten the Kats three straight seasons from 2004-06 during the midst of their regional championship and undefeated regular-season run.

Urban said he was not happy with penalties and mistakes that happened in last week’s loss. He said some kids missed practice when school was out last Wednesday and that he thought it contributed to the sloppy play on Friday.

“It hurt us on Friday. Our timing wasn’t good,” he said. “We were breaking in a new fullback in Austin Gaby and tackle in Brian Perez and we had guys who missed practice. With social media and things that shouldn’t have happened. Then in the game we needed to handle things better and mentally overcome them when they did happen. We didn’t do a good job both preparation wise and in the game.”

New Castle has not been known for its football for a long time but the Trojans did beat the Berries 39-22 a year ago, their first win over Logan since 2001.

“We emphasize last year’s game. We didn’t play very well,” Urban said. “There’s still sting from last year. On paper we should have won but we went over there and didn’t play very well. They outplayed us last year and that can’t happen this year.

“They’ve struggled this year. They have had success moving the ball on people. Their biggest shortcoming has been stopping people defensively. Offensively they’re solid. They run a shotgun option and do a lot of different stuff. Their quarterback is pretty good. He’s a runner and passer, a good athlete. They take time off the clock and move the ball. Their biggest problem is similar to us last year is they can’t finish drives. Every film they’ve moved the ball on people but they haven’t been able to finish drives.”

Logan’s leading rusher, fullback Jacob Shelton, is probably still two weeks away from returning due to a leg injury, Urban said.

Mac (5-2, 4-1 MIC) at Cass (4-3, 3-2 MIC)

Entering tonight on four-game winning streak — its longest since 2004 — Maconaquah is looking to take advantage of a high level or morale that’s seemingly spreading optimism throughout the program.

“Our success is helping our preparation a lot right now,” Maconaquah coach Mark Hartman said. “We’ve found out that we can do, and at this point it becomes a choice of how we want to play. We’ve done the things to keep ourselves in position to win games in the last few weeks, and we just need to keep doing those things right — moving the ball and playing solid defense. We’re happy to be playing at the level we should be playing at.”

Maconaquah is shooting for its first five-game winning streak since 1991.

Awaiting the Braves in Walton is the always-tough Kings. Cass has beaten Mac 14 straight times. Longtime Cass coach Scott Mannering is 23-5 against Mac — 23-3 since losing his first two games in the series.

“We haven’t beaten Cass since 1998, and we’ve reminded our guys of that several times,” Hartman said.

Maconaquah junior running back Cody Hicks needs 106 yards tonight to break the single-season rushing mark of 1,336, set by Luther McDonald in 1994.

With his three touchdowns last week, Hicks became the program’s all-time rushing TD leader with 29. He needs 13 points to become the program’s all-time leading scorer, and needs 221 more yards to become the program’s all-time leading rusher. Hicks has run for over 200 yards in three separate games this season.

Cass has won three in a row since a 1-3 start, averaging nearly 52 points per game in wins over Peru, Eastern and Taylor.

Caston (2-5, 2-3 MWC) at Winamac (7-0, 5-0 MWC)

The red-hot Warriors have moved into a tie for the No. 2 ranking in the AP’s Class A poll with North Vermillion. The Warriors trail only Linton in both the AP and coaches’ poll.

The Warriors have outscored opponents by an average of 49-7 this season. They’re coming off a 30-13 win over North Judson last week in yet another game they had their second string in by the fourth quarter.

It was the Warriors’ first full game since they lost starting quarterback Parker Fox to a broken collarbone. J.T. Garnett did a good job of filling in, coach Tim Roth said.

“J.T., once he got himself calmed down he did well. He tried to do too much early. We told him to let the game come to you,” Roth said. “He went 9 of 18 for 157 yards. What I like is no interceptions. Hopefully the percentage goes up more this week. We threw some different looks at him in practice and he responded well.”

The Warriors have lost two straight to the Comets.

“They’ve had our number. They got a win last week. They’re making progress,” Roth said. “Like our first seven opponents, we can’t take them lightly. We’ll try to contain what the well and get out to an early lead and if we can do that we’ll be OK. Chris [Ulerick] will have them playing hard and aggressive. We’ve had really close games in the last few years.”

The Comets ended a three-game losing streak with a 34-20 win at South Newton last week.

“We just have to line up and do what we’re supposed to do,” Ulerick said. “We can’t worry about who we’re playing. We’re playing ourselves right now. Last week we won against ourselves.

“Last week we changed formations. We didn’t change a whole lot, just formations. It was enough of a change to give us success. We’re playing a very good opponent. We have to take little strides and build off them.”

Pioneer (5-2, 4-1 MWC) at Tri-County (3-4, 2-3 MWC)

The Panthers are back in the AP poll at No. 9 this week in Class A. They are also ranked No. 9 in the coaches’ poll.

Their young team is on an offensive tear during their current five-game winning streak which continued last week with a 64-36 win over North White.

They’re facing a Tri-County team that lost to North White 40-0 in Week 2 but has won 3 of its last 4 including lopsided wins over Frontier, South Newton and Clinton Prairie.

“We’re going over there on their senior night. They have played a lot better of late,” PHS coach Mike Johnson said. “They’ve gotten things going offensively. They have athletic quarterback and halfbacks. They have good size. They’ve shown a big improvement from last year.”

The Panthers are healthy at this point in the season other than at linebacker with Ethan Schroder, who earned a starting spot before suffering a broken rib in the game at Frontier two weeks ago.