On Friday night, Brownstown Central will travel 10 miles east on U.S. 50 to Bulleit Stadium to take on Seymour for the Jackson Bowl.
Since bringing the Jackson County rivalry football game back 10 years ago, the series is tied at 5.
Seymour has won the past two games, including last year’s 34-32 nail-biter that featured five touchdowns by each team.
[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]
Owls look to build momentum
The Owls (2-3) come into the game off of a huge 21-17 win against Class 5A-ranked Bedford North Lawrence
Quarterback Alan Perry led the Owls’ pro-style offense, going 12-for-22 for 193 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 45 yards.
Perry, who will be playing in his fourth Jackson Bowl, expects the game to have an explosive atmosphere.
“I expect it to be through the roof like it always is,” Perry said. “This is my fourth one, and it hasn’t gotten any smaller. It’s always growing, especially when both teams are both pretty good and going in the right direction. It’s a fun atmosphere to be in as a player.”
Perry currently leads the Owls with 11 passing TDs, 936 passing yards, 226 rushing yards and four rushing TDs.
Over the years, he has noticed a trend in Brownstown’s defense.
“Brownstown, they’re not terribly big up front,” Perry said. “They want to use their speed and quickness to create pressure. They want to hurry you and make you think a little bit. That’s what we’re preparing for.”
With feature running back Nathan O’Mara out with an injury, the Owls have run multiple backs the past two weeks.
Owls coach Mike Kelly said they are still going to stay balanced on offense despite a change in workloads for personnel.
“Offensively, we had to use some motion and some quicker guys on the edges (against Bedford),” Kelly said. “Cam (Blanton) does a great job running between the tackles. Him running outside is a little bit of a challenge, so we used some of our receiver-type guys to get to the edges.
“I think, in high school, it’s really challenging to prepare for a team that’s capable of both (passing and running). We want to have balance in our offense. We want to be able to run the ball and throw the ball enough so it keeps a team guessing.”
Blanton, in three games of action, has 83 rushing yards on 35 carries.
Tyler Bullard is Perry’s favorite target. Bullard has 16 catches for 409 yards — 209 more than the Owls’ next leading receiver. He has five touchdowns thus far in the season.
After giving up 40-plus points in three straight games, the Owls limited BNL, which averaged 38.8 points going into last week, to just 17 points.
“They stuck to the game plan,” Kelly said. “That’s something we talk about all the time. The games we’ve played in the few three weeks, outside of the (Bedford) game, we’ve talk about responsibility and being in position to make plays.
“Last Friday night, we were in position and made plays. We followed our assignments, and when they didn’t is when we gave up some big plays. The challenge for defense is to not be selfish. You need to do what you’re supposed to do. You have to play your position.”
On defense, the Owls have 7.5 sacks, 10 fumble recoveries and two interceptions.
Justice Perry tops Seymour with 43 tackles (29 solo), Brendan McCartney has 39 (16 solo) and Devin Hill has 34 (16 solo).
Kelly compared Brownstown’s Wing-T to Floyd Central’s offensive scheme and credited the Braves’ work on the lines.
“They have a great offensive and defensive line,” Kelly said. “They play smart and play to their advantages. I think Reed May does an outstanding job preparing his kids. They’re well-disciplined and know exactly what they’re supposed to do. It’s credit to a great coaching staff and their preparation. It’s going to be imperative that we play the same way.”
The first-year coach said he’s excited for the game but isn’t changing the way the team prepares.
“You like those types of environments,” Kelly said. “Kids take those kinds of things for granted. There are a bunch of teams in Indiana that would love to have the fan following we have but also having a rival come down the road and bring their kind of fans.
“Obviously, it’s a big game for the community and our players. They all know each other. Any time you know your opponent, those things make it a unique game. In terms of preparation, we’re not going to do anything different than what we do for any other opponent. What’s imperative is that we have an expectation in the way we practice. We don’t want to practice any different. We’re climbing a mountain and taking steps every day.”
Braves emulating postseason game
Losing the past two Jackson Bowls by a combined 10 points after taking the 2014 contest 75-14, Brownstown is hungry for a win over the Owls.
The Braves (4-1) are coming off of a 17-14 loss to undefeated North Harrison.
North Harrison ate up nearly 10 minutes in a 22-play, field goal-winning drive to take down its Mid-Southern Conference rival in the fourth quarter.
“It hurt them being beat like that,” Brownstown coach Reed May said. “Most football games come down to special teams. We didn’t do very well in kickoff coverage. It then came down to four or five big plays. You take those out, and we win that game.”
This week, the Braves are treating their game like it’s the postseason.
They are backing off some on the weights and are spending more time studying film and getting fresh. Their after-school practices haven’t changed much, May said.
He said the Jackson Bowl helps the team see where it needs to improve as the sectional approaches.
“It’s a challenge for us,” May said. “Every time we play them, it’s a 5A versus a 3A school, and that’s why we love it. The intensity of the game is going to be high.”
One of the facets May will keep a keen eye on is the play on the line.
“(Seymour’s) linemen are used to quality offensive linemen and defensive linemen. Our guys are not,” May said. “It’s the quality of competition (on the schedule) being so different. That’s why it’s so important for us. Not only do we play our rival, but also, we get to find out what we need to work on going into the tournament.”
Brownstown is averaging 35.2 points per game and giving up 14.4.
The run-heavy Braves average 288 rushing yards and 330 yards of total offense.
Colton Ritz is leading the way with 426 rushing yards (11.8 average per carry, 89.8 per game).
Braves QB Gus Hogan has 315 rushing yards and leads the team with five TDs, while Caleb Bollinger also is having a strong season with 313 yards (9.5 average, 63 per game).
Both Bollinger and Ritz have four rushing TDs.
In passing, Hogan is 16-for-22 with 223 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
On the other side of the ball, Bollinger leads the Braves with 41 tackles (23 solo). Andrew Kellermeier has six sacks, while Noah Reynolds has amassed five.
The Braves have six total takeaways, including four fumble recoveries.
May said Perry, as he has in years past, is a threat on the Owls’ offense.
“Perry is a heck of a quarterback,” May said. “They got him some naked bootlegs and stuff like that against BNL. That compensated with O’Mara being out and got a big win against Bedford. They changed some things and got some other kids involved. They didn’t change their offense completely. They did a little more with Perry running the ball. Their scheme didn’t change hardly at all.”
Reynolds said the Braves are coming in with confidence.
“It means a lot to us,” he said. “Everyone thinks we’re not going to be near as good because of all the people we lost from last year. I think I speak for everyone when I say we want to prove everyone wrong. I think it’s going to be electrifying. Both stands will be packed. Everyone will be fired up.”