It’s a big week in Jackson County as all eyes will be on Blevins Memorial Stadium at 7 p.m. Friday for the 16th annual Jackson Bowl.
Both teams are coming off of big conference road victories a week ago. Seymour, winners of two straight, defeated Bedford North Lawrence 27-6, and Brownstown Central, winners of three straight, defeated North Harrison 27-22.
“This is a big game for this community. It’s a big game for their community. There’s a reason it’s a rivalry game,” Seymour head coach Tyson Moore said.
Since the two teams resumed the rivalry game in 2007, the Braves hold a 9-6 advantage and have beaten the Owls three straight years.
“I know it’s a big game for both teams,” Brownstown head coach Reed May said. “Our kids and for both teams, it’s a big game. Our kids have played really well the last three years.”
May said the Braves like to treat this as a tournament game. Seymour mirrors the type of teams Brownstown will see in the postseason in terms of size and physicality.
“It helps us get prepared for the sectional,” May said. “Their schedule is a lot tougher than our schedule. It’s a good time for us to have this game. We just got a big win over North Harrison and Salem, so we’re on a bit of a roll here. This game, win or lose, helps us come tournament time, and that’s why we wanted to pick them up on our schedule.”
Moore, who is in his third year leading the Owls, has yet to pick up a win over May and the Braves.
Last year, Brownstown came into Bulleit Stadium and left with a resounding 48-13 victory.
“They’ve bested us the last three years. They embarrassed us last year. We’ve struggled at all levels against them,” Moore said. “Our message to our guys is we have to have the best week of mental focus and physical focus to change the outcome.”
Unfortunately for both teams, they’ve been bitten by the injury bug so far this season.
Brownstown has shifted a lot of players around already due to injuries. Players like Ryan Branaman and Keetan Burcham-Jones, who May was hoping to just play on the defensive line this season, have also needed to fill in on the offensive line.
“It’s not ideal,” May said. “Good news is it’s supposed to be 68 degrees on Friday. Our kids are in pretty good shape. Seymour’s kids are a lot bigger than ours. Ours are smaller and quicker, so hopefully, that’ll be to our advantage.”
For Seymour, DB’s Treyton McCormick and Owen Anderson both got hurt last week at BNL. Moore said Anderson is still being evaluated, and McCormick is slowly progressing. The Owls also have been without running back Alex Schlatterer, who has missed the last two games, and wide receiver Jaylan Johnson, who has yet to take the field this season.
Moore said both Schlatterer and Johnson got reps this week in practice, and they’ll determine later this week if they’re ready to play.
In Schlatterer’s place, Seymour has gotten a nice boost from Nick and Cam Wheeler in the backfield. Nick rushed for 108 yards last week, while Cam rushed for a touchdown.
“Getting our run game established in any game is first and foremost,” Moore said. “If you don’t have a running game, you won’t have a passing game. We’ve put a lot of emphasis on that the last couple of weeks. If we want any type of success on Friday, we have to be able to run the football on the ground.”
When scouting Brownstown, Moore said the Braves can be a difficult team to prepare for.
Brownstown’s ability to rush the ball in the wing-T formation has been a formula to its success over the years.
“It’s something that those kids have learned since youth league football,” Moore said. “There’s a reason they have a lot of success with it. For us, we have to be able to stop those guys, and to be able to do it for four quarters is not an easy task because they’re so efficient with what they do. It’s hard to emulate it in practice. We have to watch a lot of film and do as many mental reps as we can.”
As for May’s scout of the Owls, he said they’re a very athletic team that is sound defensively and hasn’t given up a lot of points.
“We knew last year they were a very, very young team, kind of like us this year,” May said. “They have some explosive personnel. (Bret) Perry does a great job at quarterback. Their receivers, especially (Jack) Pennington, do a great job catching the ball and running routes.”
May also is aware Johnson could take the field Friday, and he knows No. 84 is a game-changer for the Owls.
Last year, Johnson had eight catches for 128 yards against the Braves.
“He killed us last year,” May said.
Both coaches have seen impressive play out of their respective defenses the last two weeks.
Seymour held Floyd Central to 15 points and BNL to six, while Brownstown stifled the offenses of Salem and North Harrison.
“Last two weeks, we’ve been doing well. Hopefully, we keep it up again this Friday,” May said.
The stands will be packed at Blevins Memorial Stadium on Friday night. The last time these two teams met at Brownstown, it was one of the more entertaining games a fan could witness, coming down to the last second for a one-point Braves victory.
Both teams want to continue the momentum of their season, and both teams want bragging rights for the next year.
As badly as both teams want to win, there’s a level of respect in this rivalry, as well.
“It’s going to be a tough game, but we’re looking forward to the opportunity to play them. Tyson does a great job coaching them. They’re going to be well prepared for us,” May said.
“They’ve got a great football program. They’ve got a great coaching staff that gets their players well prepared,” Moore said. “Coach May does a good job making sure his guys are ready to play.”