After going undefeated last winter in basketball and only suffering a couple of losses last spring in baseball, Brownstown Central Middle School football head coach Clay Brown knew he had an impressive group of eighth-graders this fall.
They lived up to the expectation, too.
The BCMS eighth grade football went a perfect 7-0 this season — the first undefeated eighth grade team at BCMS since 2012.
“Really proud of the kids,” Brown said. “They were a really self-driven team. They have a taste for winning, and they definitely wanted to go undefeated this year. How hard they worked and how they came together, it was honestly really impressive. They were fun to watch, and they were fun to be around.”
What’s more impressive about going undefeated is how dominant the Braves were in doing so.
They shut out five of the seven opponents they played and outscored their opponents 202-32.
“Defense was the strength of our team,” Brown said. “They definitely love to hit, which is cool to see at the eighth grade level. Assignment-wise, this is a very smart group.”
Brown and his coaching staff — assistants Clark Hauer and Brian Branaman — were able to make complex scouting reports for their defense, and the Braves were able to execute.
BCMS did have some close games, though. Against North Harrison, the Braves allowed a late score to make it a one-possession game, but they were able to run the clock out to secure the victory.
Against Seymour at home, Brownstown won 6-0 in another defensive battle.
“That one was down to the wire pretty much,” Brown said. “Those shutouts we had, they were really impressive.”
On the offensive side of the ball, BCMS runs a similar offense as the Brownstown Central High School team, but “a little bit more of a simpler version,” of course.
Brown said they were about 95% run plays earlier in the season, but as the season progressed, BCMS started to throw the ball a bit more, culminating in a 3-passing TD game in the final matchup of the year against Scottsburg.
“That’s kind of by design,” Brown said. “We want these kids to have a very good understanding of this offense when they get to high school.”
The BCMS roster consisted of 22 players: Preston Garrison, Kameron Cunningham, Linkan Brittain, Wade Mathena, Jaxon Johnson, Trevor Branaman, Trey Owen, Evan Stahl, Taylor Stevens, Micah Sheffer, Owen Wischmeier, Jack Pace, Caden Wischmeier, Maddox Ross, Grayson Cassidy, Joseph Gray, Sloan Stuckwisch, Ty Brown, Drew Shelton, Isaac Hutchinson, Anthony Elliott and Preston Maines.
It says a lot about the Brownstown football program that the eighth-graders were able to go undefeated in the same season the high school team has gone undefeated.
The varsity Braves team is currently 10-0 with a sectional semifinal matchup this Friday at Batesville.
“We’re really fortunate here at Brownstown, especially since coach (Reed) May has gotten here,” Brown said. “It starts at the top with coach May. He has had a lot of success, and now, he has a lot of former players like myself coaching.”
Brown played for May from 2011 to 2014, and he began coaching the BCMS team in 2020.
May stresses to the younger players in the 56er program and in middle school to always stick together and not just play one sport.
“The whole key is if they stick together,” May said. “That’s the problem with a small school is sometimes, you have kids that decide to play just one sport, and if they do it and they go to high school, it just kills you. If that class sticks together and plays all sports and stays after it, they’ve got a chance to be really good in all sports. It’s a great class, but again, the key is stick together. That’s the one thing I tell them all the time is stick together and play all sports.”
Brown thinks May’s sustained success at the high school level has helped all of the other programs thrive, as well.
“We kind of know what to expect and what the standard is, and that standard is relayed and enforced throughout the rest of the program’s middle school level, 56er level,” Brown said. “It’s really impressive to see how far it has come since coach May has been here.”