FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: Braves ready to host Sectional 31 championship


The first matchup between the two teams will be for a sectional title.

Brownstown Central’s football will host Batesville on Friday for the Class 3A Sectional 31 championship.

In the program’s 54-season history, the Braves have never played the Bulldogs.

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The Braves (10-1) have dominated the 2018 postseason thus far.

Brownstown posted a 55-13 win over Corydon Central before blasting Salem 56-15 this past week.

In those contests, the Braves built big leads early. Brownstown scored 14 points in the first quarter of each game before adding 21 (against Corydon) and 28 (against Salem) points in the second quarters against their opponents.

The high-flying offense has averaged 47.2 points this season.

Against the Lions, the Braves had three rushers with more than 100 yards. Caleb Bollinger led the charge with 10 carries for 152 yards, while quarterback Hayden Kinsler had four rushes for 122 yards, and Sam Huber ran the ball three times for 105 yards.

On the ground this season, the Braves have 3,182 total rushing yards, led by 848 from Derek Thompson. Thompson also has a team-high 15 touchdowns.

Through the air, Kinsler has completed 66 of 112 passes (58.9 percent) for 1,425 yards with 13 TDs and two interceptions.

Seth Borden leads the team with 20 receptions for 385 yards, while Thompson has 16 catches for 347 yards and six TDs.

Kinsler’s passing output largely depends on matchups and the flow of the game. Last week, he had just five passing attempts.

The junior is excited to start at QB for the first time in a sectional title game.

“Everyone is starting to step into it and get that groove,” Kinsler said. “I think we’re functioning well as a team. I think we have a lot of threats on the offense.”

On defense, the Braves also have dominated this year, allowing just 12.8 points per game while holding opponents to 15 points or fewer in 10 games.

Linebacker Luke Shelton leads the Braves with 80 total tackles (27 solo). Matthew Bell has 68 (26 solo), Robbie Branaman 55 (15 solo), Lucas Hines 51 (21 solo) and Jalen Tiemeyer 50 (9 solo) tackles.

The Braves have 22 totals sacks, 78 tackles for loss, eight interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries.

“We had a good game last Friday. Everything felt really good,” Braves two-way starter senior Braden Neal said. “Our team is really jacked up and ready to play this Friday. I think the energy is going to be electric. It think the fans are going to be awesome.”

Kicking-wise, Ethan Sevakis has nailed 62 of 69 (90 percent) PAT attempts and has hit all three of his field goal attempts from 20 to 29 yards out. His lone field goal miss was from between 30 and 39 yards.

In the fourth quarters of both postseason games, the Braves were able to pull their starters.

Brownstown head coach Reed May said facing a new team could be an advantage for the Braves.

“With our offense, it’s something that’s a little different. I don’t know that they’ve seen a team that runs an offense similar to us,” May said. “We’ve seen teams that run a similar offense as them but haven’t seen a quarterback as good as theirs. It may be an advantage for us. It’s hard to prepare for an offense on four days. That’s why we run our offense because nobody else runs it. Having that advantage of being the unknown, it will be interesting to see how they line up.”

The Bulldogs (9-2), who are riding a six-game winning streak, have victories over Jennings County, Milan, Rushville, Lawrenceburg (twice), Greensburg (twice), Franklin County and Connersville. They lost to South Dearborn 20-0 on Aug. 31 and East Central 55-9 on Sept. 14.

In the postseason, the Bulldogs have wins over Greensburg (59-19) and Lawrenceburg (28-22).

The Bulldogs’ offense operates through senior quarterback Trey Heidlage. He is 143-for-233 (61 percent) with 1,910 passing yards and 19 passing touchdowns. He also has six INT.

Heidlage also is a danger on the ground, leading the team with 208 carries and 1,414 yards with 26 TDs. He has run for more than 100 yards seven times this year.

Senior Austin Siefert tops the Bulldogs with 57 catches, 913 yards and 10 receiving TDs.

“They spread you out. They will go no back some and go three-by-one some,” May said. “Their QB is a really great runner. They do a lot of zone read where they are reading defensive personnel to see how you play and run the ball based on that. He also throws the ball really well.

“Offensively, they do a lot of what the colleges are doing nowadays. They will throw dink passes, and every once in a while, they throw it over the top for a home run. They have some good receivers and running backs.”

Defensively, linebackers Adam Bedel (94 total) and Devon Meeks (63 total) lead the team in tackles.

The Bulldogs have 10 total sacks, 13 INTs and eight fumble recoveries.

“They run a 3-5-3, which we’ve seen before,” May said. “I guess it’s a conference thing because that’s what Lawrenceburg runs, too. They fly around and have a middle linebacker with a lot of tackles.”

Kicker Nate Slavin has made 39 of 44 APT attempts and also hit seven of eight field goal tries. His long field goal is from 42 yards this fall.

Evan Ulery is in his third year of coaching the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs were 5-5 in 2016 and 7-4 last year under Ulery.

Ulery was an assistant football coach at Greensburg High School from 2012 to 2015, according to The Herald-Tribune.

In 26 years under May, the Braves have now advanced to the sectional finals 20 times. The Braves own 12 sectional titles, with the most recent coming in 2016.

The sectional final, slated for 7:30 p.m., will be the first on the new turf field at Blevins Memorial Stadium.

The winner of the sectional will travel to the winner of Evansville Memorial-Gibson Southern next week for regional competition. Memorial is the reigning Class 3A state champion.

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What: Batesville (9-2) at Brownstown Central (10-1)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Blevins Memorial Stadium

Radio: 96.3 WJAA

Last outing: Batesville def. Lawrenceburg 28-22, Brownstown Central def. Salem 56-15

Most recent meeting: No meetings

Coaches: Evan Ulery 21-11 in third year at Batesville, Reed May 258-51 in 26th year at Brownstown Central

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The Brownstown Central High School varsity football coaches have announced awards for Friday’s 56-15 sectional win against Salem.

Earning honors are Hayden Kinsler, Offensive Back MVP; Jalen Tiemeyer, Offensive Line MVP; Robbie Branaman, Defensive Line/Inside Linebacker MVP; Matthew Bell, Defensive Back/Dime MVP; Ethan Sevakis, Special Teams MVP; Cole Darlage, Scout Team MVP; Bell, Branaman, Braden Neal, Braeden Walker, Lucas Hines, black jersey winners.


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