Balancing act

For The Tribune

Seymour football coach Josh Shattuck said he is hoping for dry weather so he can utilize his rushing and passing attacks in Friday night’s Class 4A Sectional 23 battle against Franklin County at Bulleit Stadium.

The Owls have rushed for 1,493 yards and 16 touchdowns, while they have passed for 1,656 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2015.

Zach Carpenter tops the Owls in rushing with 610 yards on 138 carries for an average of 4.4 per game and four touchdowns, while Alan Perry has rushed 114 times for 451 yards for an average of 4.0 per carry and six touchdowns.

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Perry has completed 149 of 227 passes for 1,648 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Jackson Morris has caught 50 passes for 472 yards, and Luke Dover has 39 receptions for 557 yards. Dover has six TD receptions, while Knight has five.

The Wildcats feature a strong running attack, led by Cole McCreary, a 6-foot, 190-pound senior, who ranks 14th in the state with 1,466 yards on 299 carries and 15 touchdowns.

“They are definitely a physical, downhill run team,” Shattuck said. “They’re very aggressive on both sides of the ball. They know exactly what they want to do, and they do it well. They are well-coached, tough, hard-nosed kids you can tell watching the tape. There are not a lot of surprises, but they don’t need them.”

Franklin County comes into the sectional with a record of 6-3 after beating Indianapolis Broad Ripple 62-8 on Friday night.

The Wildcats and Owls do not have any common opponents this season. The Wildcats are in the 4A Division of the Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference.

“When you win six out of your nine games doing what you do, it shows just how disciplined, well-coached and how tough their kids are,” Shattuck said.

The Wildcats are averaging 30 points per game and giving up 21.8, while the Owls are scoring 26.2 and giving up 21.8 per game.

“They’re your traditional I-formation team where they’re going to run toss, they’re going to run lead and they’re going to run a lot of isolation,” Shattuck said.

“They definitely can throw the ball. They don’t usually play with two tight ends. They usually have split outs. They don’t usually throw the ball, but they haven’t had to.”

Shattuck said his team is going to have to be physical up front.

“We’re going to have to match their physicality,” he said. “They’re going to be bigger than us. Literally every team we’ve lined up against all year has been bigger than us, so that is nothing new.

“We have struggled a little bit against the downhill run, but we’ve gotten a lot better as the season has gone on. It’s going to be one of those games where they’re going to want to impose their will on us at the line of scrimmage, and we’re just going to have to use great technique and try to use our quickness up front to make up for what we don’t have in size.”

Shattuck said one of the keys to the Owls’ success will be finding balance on the offensive unit.

“If we can’t run the ball, we’re in big trouble, and we found that out at Floyd Central. And if we can’t pass the ball, we’re in big trouble, and we found that out at Jennings County the hard way,” he said.

“We have to find a way to find balance. We know what our strengths are. We know where the matchups are. We’re not going to be afraid of what they give us. When you look back at the game, if you’re well balanced, you’re going to be in pretty good shape.”

Chris Knight tops the Owls in tackles with 55 solo and 25 assisted tackles, with Todd Kiewitt is next with 53 solos and 23 assists.

Knight and Kiewitt both have three interceptions, Knight and Nick Richert each have three fumble recoveries and Richert tops the team in sacks with four.

Shattuck said it is important to be physical from the start.

“What I think is actually bigger momentum than scoring a touchdown is to play defense first and get a stop,” he said. “You kind of set the tone that way. You want to say to their offense, ‘You’re going have trouble moving the ball on us.’

“Don’t get me wrong, having a lead is great, but if you’re playing defense first and you get a stop or even if they get one first down, with the kicking game in high school being a little sporadic, you can flip the field without even having to play offense.”

The Owls have done a good job of winning the turnover battle and keeping penalties down in recent games.

“Fortunately, we’ve done good job of both,” Shattuck said. “We’ve been pretty good job of not fumbling. Overall, we’ve won the turnover battle, and every week, we’ve won the penalty battle.”