October 18, 2013

Football teams gear up for final week of regular season

Football teams gear up for final week of regular season

By Beau Wicker and Josh Sigler CNHI

---- — Logansport’s football team is a controversial loss to Anderson away from playing for a share of the North Central Conference title tonight at Richmond.

The Berries (3-5, 2-3 NCC) face the Red Devils (6-2, 4-1) at 7:30 p.m. on the brand new field turf at Lyboult Field.

The Red Devils can secure the NCC title outright for the second straight year with a win in what is a now a muddled conference race. Huntington North (4-2), Kokomo (3-2) and Muncie Central (3-2) all have a shot if the Berries can pull off the upset.

“Obviously they’re a pretty solid football team,” LHS coach Brad Urban said of the Red Devils. “I thought they’d be the best team we’d face, but Huntington handed it to them last week [35-16] which was interesting. They’re still a pretty good football team. They’re very well balanced. They’re big with speed, very solid.”

The Berries would’ve had a shot at the NCC title tonight if not for the controversial 29-28 loss to Anderson in which Urban thought the referees mishandled the closing seconds.

“That really hurts. It is what it is as they say. We have to make the most of it and try to get a win,” he said. “We’re playing to get more guys on the all-conference team and improve our record in the conference and our record overall. It’d get us one step closer to .500 and one step closer to a winning season which is something we wanted to do this year.”

The Berries throttled New Castle 47-18 last week for their third win in four games.

“We’ve been a lot better defensively which has kept us in games,” Urban said. “Our offense has been more explosive and we’ve had a few big plays with our A-backs. We’ve also thrown the ball better. We’ve got to continue to do that when defenses bring up more guys in the box. Against New Castle we did a pretty good job of that.”

The Berries’ leading rusher, Jacob Shelton (582 yards, 10 TDs), is out another week with a leg injury. Marcus Record has rushed for 424 yards and three TDs. Ryan Schrock adds 415 yards and 10 TDs and has passed for 283 yards and three TDs. Alex Brink is the leading receiver with eight catches for 118 yards and two TDs. Khalil Carter leads the defense with 43 solo tackles, 51 assists and 9 tackles for a loss. Kevin Gonzalez has three sacks and Jacob Brown adds two interceptions.

Richmond had a five-game win streak snapped in last week’s loss at HN. The Red Devils’ only other loss was to Class 4A No. 2 New Palestine.

Cass (5-3, 4-2 MIC) at Western (7-1, 5-1 MIC)

Western football coach Nate Andrews is confident he has his team’s attention.

The Panthers have made its three opponents pay since a 28-18 upset loss to Maconaquah in Week 5, pounding Peru (52-27), Eastern (55-6) and Class 3A co-No. 8 Hamilton Heights (35-14).

Western enters the final week of the regular season sharing that 3A No. 8 ranking with Hamilton Heights, and with a home victory over Cass tonight, the Panthers also will share the Mid-Indiana Conference crown with the Huskies, assuming Heights is able to beat Peru on the road.

“I hope our mindset is one of knowing we’re competing for a championship,” Andrew said. “We’ve certainly set ourselves up to do so. We’ve worked hard and overcome a lot of adversities to be in this situation. I hope we can fulfill one of the goals that we set out to do early in the season.”

Awaiting Western is a Kings squad that’s playing well at the right time of the season as well, taking four straight wins over Peru (46-7), Eastern (61-29), Taylor (48-0) and Maconaquah (36-14) after three straight losses to 3A No. 3 West Lafayette, Northwestern and Heights.

“Cass is Cass,” Andrews said. “They do what they do very well and are very disciplined. I respect a program like that. They’re difficult to prepare for, I think, with their misdirection and speed offensively. What we have to be able to do is match their toughness for four quarters.”

The Kings attack with their wing-T offense. Gabe Welch leads the way with 826 yards and nine touchdowns on 108 carries. Brendan McGehee has added 483 yards and eight TDs on 62 carries, and Payton Young enters Week 9 with 455 yards and three TDs on 67 totes.

Western counters with an option attack that has imposed its will on opponents in recent weeks, led by Ben Lenahan, who enters the week with 774 yards and seven TDs on 112 carries, and running mate Ryan Alexander, who has 617 yards and nine TDs on 113 carries.

“It seems like the last couple weeks we’ve seen a Western team that is very physical, does a very good job of playing ball control, controlling the line of scrimmage and playing very good defense,” Cass coach Scott Mannering said. “That’s the way we want to play. It’s going to be a tough matchup and a big challenge. I look at what they did to Hamilton Heights and I think they served notice that they’re a very talented, well-coached team that plays very hard. That’s a concern for us. For us, we’re going to have to play our best game of the year to compete with them, and that’s what we’re looking to do.”

Western has won two of the last three matchups in the series, with Cass squeaking out a 21-20 victory in Walton last season.

Tri-County (3-5, 2-4 MWC) at Caston (2-6, 2-4 MWC)

The game is a battle for fifth place in the conference standings.

The two teams will meet again in Fulton next week to open sectional play. Comet coach Chris Ulerick said his team will go all out for the win this week.

“I don’t think there’s a reason to hold back for a sectional win,” he said. “With our kids just getting a win is important. That’s where we are. We’re going to play hard and we’re going to do what we’ve got to do to win a football game.”

The Comets got a good draw in the sectional with Pioneer, Seeger and Carroll on the other side of the bracket.

“If we get things going here, confidence can be a scary thing in football, especially for a high school team,” Ulerick said. “If we can get our confidence going we’ll be right in the hunt. We have to make sure we get there. We have to do the little things right. When we do the little things right we’re certainly better than our record.”

Ulerick said the Cavaliers present a challenge.

“They always have track athletes. They’re very good in space,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure we limit their opportunities and we’ll be OK. It’ll be a big task for us to limit their opportunities.”

The Caston coach added he thought his squad had a better week of practice this week after he was disappointed with last week’s effort which led to a 60-point loss at Winamac.

“I think we got better. We threw a few things at them and changed a few things. We made them think a bit,” he said. “I thought [Thursday] at the end of practice was the closest to a game situation we’ve had in practice all year.”

W. Central (6-2, 4-2 MWC) at Pioneer (6-2, 5-1 MWC)

The matchup pits a pair of teams that have been ranked in Class A for most of the season. The Panthers are currently ranked No. 9 and the Trojans are ranked No. 15.

The Panthers have rattled off six straight wins behind an offense that is averaging 55.2 ppg during that stretch.

They’re facing a West Central team that bounced back from back-to-back losses to Winamac and Frontier with a 36-28 win over North Judson last week. The Trojans were ranked as high as fifth before a 51-0 loss to Winamac.

In recent years the game has decided the Midwest Conference champion but the Panthers would likely have to settle for second place outright this year with first-place Winamac being a heavy favorite against Frontier.

Winamac (8-0, 6-0 MWC) at Frontier (1-7, 1-5 MWC)

The Warriors are back in the top spot in the coaches’ poll this week in Class A. They are still ranked No. 3 in the AP poll behind Linton-Stockton and North Vermillion.

They’re facing a Frontier squad that snapped its 34-game losing streak with a 40-16 win over West Central two weeks ago. The Falcons lost at Carroll 34-14 last week.

“We’ve got to go there. They’re playing a lot better. They haven’t gotten over the hump a lot,” Winamac coach Tim Roth said. “They’ve done a good job of turning it around. They’ve got a couple good backs. [Hunter] McCracken, No. 32, we can’t let him get loose. He’s as good of a back as there is in the conference. We can’t go there with a lack of attitude and mental focus.”

Roth added quarterback/safety Parker Fox is ahead of schedule with his broken collarbone and could return for the sectional final or regional game if the Warriors can make it that far.

Tyler Katschke has rushed for 1,265 yards and 22 TDs to lead the Warriors.