Regional showdown: Braves hope to upset Tigers in postseason play


Hours after winning the sectional championship, Brownstown Central head football coach Reed May sat down and watched a two-year-old DVD.

The film was of the last time Evansville Memorial lost to an opponent from Class 3A, which just so happened to be at Blevins Memorial Stadium in 2016.

While the venue will be different this time around, the goal for the Braves is similar to the one they had in the last regional championship game: Take down the Tigers for a semistate berth.

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Hot off of a 35-28 Sectional 31 title win over Batesville, the 3A No. 7 Braves (11-1) go to No. 1 Evansville Memorial (12-0) on Friday for regional play.

The Tigers, the reigning 3A state champions, have a record of 26-1 over the past two seasons. Their lone loss in that two-year span is to Class 4A Evansville Central.

In 2018, the Tigers have been nothing short of excellent.

Their schedule boasts a mix of 3A, 4A and 5A-sized schools. They have wins over Jasper, Owensboro Catholic (Ky.), Evansville North, Mater Dei, Bosse, Reitz, Central, Harrison, Castle, Princeton, Vincennes Lincoln and Gibson Southern.

Last week, the Tigers defeated No. 8 Gibson Southern 56-28 for a third straight sectional championship.

“They are the defending state champions for a reason,” May said. “They beat all of those Evansville schools. They will be a challenge for it. Whatever happens now is just icing on the cake. We won the sectional and will now go as far as we can.”

The Tigers have a high-flying offense that produces 47.7 points per game and a defense that has allowed just 13.5 points per contest.

Michael Lindauer, the Tigers’ 6-foot-3, 200-pound senior quarterback, has put up video game-esque numbers this fall. He has 3,031 passing yards, completing 192 of 287 passes (67 percent) with 40 touchdowns and three interceptions. He’s averaging 252 passing yards per game and also has 328 rushing yards on 53 carries with nine TDs.

According to, Lindauer is third in the state — across all classes — for TD passes and fifth in passing yards.

In his career, Lindauer has 9,978 passing yards with an average of 199.6 yards per game, 116 touchdowns and 29 INTs.

While 14 different receivers have recorded catches this fall, Branson Combs is Lindauer’s favorite target.

The 6-3, 210-pound wide out has 55 catches for 1,148 yards and 18 touchdowns. He’s seventh in receiving yards and fifth in TD catches, via Maxpreps.

“They spread you out and throw it all over the place,” May said. “Combs is a great wide receiver. They have a lot of weapons.”

The Tigers have a two-headed running attack with senior Darrius Johnson (684 yards, 7 TDs) and junior Finn McCool (443 yards, 7 TD) leading the way. The team has 2,047 rushing yards total this season.

Combs, a senior, also plays linebacker and has 47 tackles, 9.5 sacks and three interceptions.

Lindauer has verbally committed to play both football and baseball at Southern Illinois, and Combs has verbally committed to the football program.

Senior linebacker Max Goodwin leads the team with 91 total tackles (56 solos), while juniors Will Brackett (78 tackles) and Logan Johnson (77 tackles) also have put up big numbers.

“Hopefully, we can have an advantage that our offense and defense are both a little different,” May said. “However, we’re not blind. We are watching film. They’re very good. It will be a challenge. Their offensive and defensive lines are used to playing all of those big schools in Evansville. They are used to playing a higher-quality opponent than we are. That will be a challenge.”

As a team, the Tigers have 29 sacks, 14 interceptions and 14 fumble recoveries.

Many of the players on Memorial’s 2016 team are still taking the field for the Tigers.

The last time the two teams played, the Braves built a 30-point lead before posting a 30-7 win to advance to the semistate. The Braves would get knocked out of the state tournament the following weekend, losing to Lawrenceburg 41-40.

A majority of the players on the Braves’ roster did not take the field against Memorial in ’16.

“When we played them two years ago, a lot of them were sophomores,” May said. “We played a lot of them on our grass field here. Really, we were the last 3A team to beat them. They are just a great football team.”

Brownstown got a first look at the Tigers at a camp hosted by Hanover College this summer.

“Three of the teams from that camp are still playing (Southridge, Memorial and Brownstown),” May said. “We actually went 11-on-11 against Memorial. We’ve seen them, and they are very good athletically. We shouldn’t be intimidated by them, but we will have to play a very good game to win.”

Against Batesville last week, the Braves trailed 13-0 in the first quarter and 20-7 at halftime before mounting a second-half comeback.

Brownstown held the Bulldogs, who also ran a pass-happy spread offense, to just eight points in the second half while posting seven in the third and 21 in the fourth quarter.

Junior Braeden Walker led the Braves with 109 yards, and classmate Derek Thompson had 96 for the Braves. Walker had one TD, and Thompson added two scores (one rushing, one receiving).

Walker, who has battled injury this season, put together a career game in the finals.

“He is the strongest kid on our team,” May said. “He was playing really well prior to injuries. He finally got the chance to play. I was glad to see him have a breakout game. He is a tough kid, a hard-running kid that we think will be a good player for us.”

Braves senior Caleb Bollinger had a key 57-yard punt return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Bollinger said the team plans on making a statement.

“Nobody sees us winning this game. They don’t know who Brownstown Central is, but we’re going to go out and play the game of our lives,” he said. “We played them two years ago, and nobody thought we would win that game. We just need to play our assignments and do what we do, and we should be fine.”

Through the air, junior QB Hayden Kinsler completed 8 of 12 attempts for 89 yards and a TD.

Through 12 games, the Braves are averaging 46.2 points on offense while giving up 14.1 on defense. Their lone loss this fall is to Seymour.

Thompson leads the team with 949 yards and 16 TDs on the ground, while Kinsler has 403 yards and 11 TDs. Passing, Kinsler currently boasts 1,513 yards (59.3 completion) with 14 TDs and two interceptions.

On defense, linebacker Luke Shelton has a team-high 86 tackles. Matthew Bell (78), Robbie Branaman (63), Lucas Hines (59), Jalen Tiemeyer (57) and Braden Neal (52) also have racked up tackles for the Braves.

“They are a very good passing team that can also run the ball,” Bell said of Memorial. “We will need to focus on their quarterback and wideout. They have good speed, and they have some height. If we can shut down their pass, hopefully, we can shut down their run, too.”

The Braves have eight interceptions, 11 fumble recoveries and 30 sacks.

“We’re going to have to play an outstanding game. We’re going to hope for a snowstorm or hail and rain,” May joked. “If we get all kinds of bad weather, that may slow things down a little bit.”

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What: Brownstown Central (11-1) at Evansville Memorial (12-0)

When: 7 p.m. CT Friday

Where: Enlow Field (at Evansville Bosse)

Radio: 96.3 WJAA

Last outing: Brownstown Central def. Batesville 35-28, Evansville Memorial def. Gibson Southern 56-28

Most recent meeting: Brownstown Central won 30-7 on Nov. 11, 2016

Coaches: John Hurley 85-53 in 11th year at Evansville Memorial, Reed May 259-51 in 26th year at Brownstown Central

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The Brownstown Central High School varsity football coaches have announced awards for Friday’s 35-28 sectional championship win against Batesville.

Earning honors are Braeden Walker, Offensive Back MVP; Brian Murphy, Offensive Line MVP; Lucas Hines, Defensive Line/Inside Linebacker MVP; Matthew Bell, Defensive Back/Dime MVP; Ethan Sevakis and Caleb Bollinger, Special Teams MVP; Jacob Blann, Scout Team MVP; and Sam Huber, Dustin Justice, Derek Thompson, Walker, Hines, Bell, black jersey winners.


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