FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: Jackson County football teams prepare for Week 3

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Two Jackson County schools look to move to 3-0, while one is looking for its first win of the season in Week 3 of varsity football action.

Seymour will go to Columbus East, Brownstown Central hosts Eastern (Pekin) and Trinity Lutheran will welcome South Decatur on Friday night.

Owls look to stun Olympians

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Last week’s Seymour-Jeffersonville game proved that football is a game of inches.

When Jeffersonville’s 45-yard field goal attempt bounced off of the crossbar, Bulleit Stadium exploded, as the Owls earned a 31-29 win.

The Owls go into this week’s game at Columbus East with some momentum.

Seymour is 2-0 for the first time since 2001 and coming off a record-setting performance by feature back Nathan O’Mara.

He rushed 41 times for 346 yards, both school records.

O’Mara currently ranks second in the state among all classes for rushing yards through two games (514) and No. 1 for Class 5A, according to maxpreps.com. By the Maxpreps standard, which doesn’t have every team’s stats, O’Mara ranks 11th in the nation for rushing yards. North Central’s Dawson Basinger is currently No. 1 overall in Indiana with 583 yards.

Owls coach Mike Kelly said O’Mara kept getting the same play called to him Friday.

“Nathan has an ability to see where the pockets of the defense are going to be,” Kelly said.

Owls junior quarterback Brendan Smith also is getting more comfortable in his starting role. He rushed for 49 yards with a pair of TD runs while also going 6-for-11 with 109 yards through the air and a passing TD.

“I think, in Week 1, there were some nerves there,” Kelly said. “He seemed like he was more confident and comfortable than he was in Week 1. He did a great job of managing the game for us.”

Kelly credited the offensive line for stepping up after challenging them going into the game.

“I think the film doesn’t lie,” Kelly said. “Saturday morning, we saw a significant difference between Week 1 and Week 2 in terms of footwork, their aim points and aggression, all of the things we talk about. Their consistency was much better this week.”

East is 0-2 to start 2018, the first time the Olympians go into Week 3 without a win since 2003.

The Class 5A No. 11 Olympians fell to No. 4 Whiteland (2-0) 26-20 in Week 1 before losing to Class 6A No. 7 Columbus North (2-0) 17-16.

East, the reining Class 5A state champion, replaced 16 starters — eight on each side of the ball — going into this season.

Junior Cole Gilley has taken over at QB, and junior Lance Greiwe and Mark McDonald are taking the bulk of the carries, replacing three-year QB Josh Major and stud running backs Jamon Hogan and Jaedin Miller.

One offensive lineman returns to this year’s team, and the entire defensive line is new.

Last week, against North, the Olympians had just three first downs and 115 total yards. East ran for 21 yards on 18 carries. Gilley went 7-for-22 for 94 yards and a touchdown through the air.

“I think, offensively, they are trying to find their way just a little bit in terms of what they’re doing,” Kelly said. “Major last year was very effective. This year, they don’t have the same guy as far as running the football. He has the ability to move. They are in a zone offense and will do and inside and outside zone. They are probably as good as any team in the state in having their offensive line be aggressive. They are fundamentally sound.”

The Owls haven’t beaten the Olympians since 2002. Seymour hasn’t started 3-0 since 2001.

“I think, one, it’s believing they can,” Kelly said. “I think, a lot of times, it’s getting the kids to believe they can. I feel that we have the ability. We can win this week. Two, it’s executing and doing their jobs. You hear coach (Brian) Balsmeyer say it on the sidelines a lot. It’s one of the mottos we’ve had all season long. We want them to do it to the best of their ability.”

Braves plan to keep streak going

Class 3A No. 5 Brownstown Central proved any doubters wrong Friday night.

In what was anticipated to be a tight Mid-Southern Conference game, the Braves blew by Charlestown 50-13 on their new turf field last week.

The Braves’ offense picked apart the Pirates, as five different ball carriers scored touchdowns and junior QB Hayden Kinsler aired it out going 11-for-14 for 260 yards with a passing TD.

“We’ve known (Kinsler) has had the ability to throw the ball since middle school,” Braves coach Reed May said. “A lot of teams, because of what we’ve done over the past few years, crowd the line of scrimmage. I had a script and knew what the first three plays were that I was going to call. (The first TD, taking 57 seconds off the clock) was a play-action pass off our jet sweep. Their safety was 5 yards off our line of scrimmage, so I thought it was a touchdown. (Kinsler) got it to (Derek) Thompson, who who blew by his guy for a score.

“It is going to help us in the long run. Teams are going to see that we can throw the ball and will have to back off a little bit. That will help our run game. Hayden had a great game. I think he’s getting better.”

The Braves had 455 yards of offense to the Pirates’ 174.

Brownstown will host Eastern this week. The Musketeers are 1-1 with a 26-6 season-opening loss to West Washington before beating Clarksville 54-12 last week.

May said the offensive line, which the staff had questions about at the start of the season, has picked it up.

“They’re doing a great job,” May said. “Monday, we practice a lot longer than a lot of teams do. We practice for two and a half hours. We’ve been doing barrel drills, and I think that has helped them a lot with our blocking schemes.

“This is the first year that I’ve actually gone down to them. The kids are a little more intense than when I’m around. I think they’re coming along. Coach (Steven) Wingler, (Jerry) Brown and (Barry) Hall have done a great job with them.”

Eastern’s offense has run the ball 106 times through two games while attempting just 16 passes.

Junior Brandon Tandy is the main ball carrier for the Musketeers, rushing for 255 yards on 43 carries.

“They’ve changed their offense from last year,” May said of Eastern. “They’re a double tight ‘T’ formation, which we’ve seen quite a bit. It is what West Washington used to do years ago when they went to state a couple times.”

May said the goal isn’t just to focus on Eastern but to improve each time out so the team will get to ride firetrucks come postseason play.

Cougars searching for first win

Trinity Lutheran will have its biggest challenge yet, as they face South Decatur in an attempt to bounce back from an 0-2 start to the season.

The team was still feeling the sting of a tough 38-30 overtime loss to the Indiana School for the Deaf, but now the focus is on their next opponent.

“South Decatur is a strong, aggressive football team,” Trinity coach Mike Wilson said following Tuesday’s practice. “They will run the ball a lot and they have big backs who drag the pile.”

That means the Cougars will have to rely on solid defense, Wilson said, and stopping the ball.

Tyler Goecker, who plays quarterback and defense, had a solid performance on both ends of the ball, but had three defensive stops for a loss against the Orioles.

The Cougars will look to Goecker for another solid offensive performance. Last week he was 16-for-23 through the air with two touchdowns. He also ran for another.

His main target was Trent Shoemaker, who had four catches for 125 yards. Jack Marksberry had five catches for 92 yards and Lawson Woods had seven catches for 75 yards. Woods scored the Cougars’ first two touchdowns, one on a pass from Goecker and the other on a fumble recovery.

The Cougars might be challenged by a strong defense, Wilson said. He described South Decatur’s defense as very physical.

“This will be a good test for our young men,” he said.

Wilson said the focus this week will be run blocking to open up gaps and taking care of the ball. That should minimize mistakes and get the Cougars a win, he said.

“We are really excited to get after it and see how much better we go this week,” he said.

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What: Seymour (2-0, 1-0 HHC) at Columbus East (0-2, 0-0 HHC)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Radio: 92.7 Nash Icon

Where: Stafford Field

Last outing: Seymour def. Jeffersonville 31-29, Columbus North def. Columbus East 17-16

Most recent meeting: Columbus East won 63-0 on Oct. 20, 2017 (sectional)

Series past 30 years: Columbus East 22-14

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What: Eastern (Pekin) (1-1, 1-0 MSC) at Brownstown Central (2-0, 2-0 MSC)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Radio: 96.3 WJAA

Where: Blevins Memorial Stadium

Last outing: Brownstown Central def. Charlestown 50-13, Eastern (Pekin) def. Clarksville 54-12

Most recent meeting: Brownstown Central won 34-10 on Sept. 1, 2017

Series past 30 years: Brownstown Central 11-0

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What: South Decatur (0-2) at Trinity Lutheran (0-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Where: Trinity Lutheran High School

Last outing: Indiana School for the Deaf def. Trinity Lutheran 38-30 (OT), Tri-County def. South Decatur 20-6

Most recent meeting: South Decatur won 27-0 on Sept. 1, 2017

Series past 30 years: South Decatur 1-0

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