For The Tribune

Looking at the Seymour football team’s turnaround this season, coach Josh Shattuck said the recent success stems from one word: confidence.

“The turning point was the confidence our kids had,” Shattuck said. “You look at our schedule, and if you flip-flopped we might have been 5-0.”

On Friday, the Owls will head to Sellersburg to face Silver Creek in the sectional semifinals.

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“Part of it is we played some really good football teams at the beginning of the year, and what that allowed us was to see was the best,” Shattuck said.

“I think, if there is anything our coaching staff has done the best, it’s keeping our kids motivated and positive through that 0-5 because we were doing some really good things. From the touchdown drive at the start of the game against Columbus East to some of the defensive plays we made in those early games, I think we did a good job.”

Shattuck said that his kids have a strong football IQ, using their resources to scout their opponent.

“Our kids are good in the classroom,” he said. “When we get the film, they’re really good at focusing in on the game plan, and they buy into what our scheme is every week. That kind of stuff is what people don’t necessarily see. They’re doing a good job, and we’re playing our best football at the right time.”

With a young team, the third-year coach has seen his team get closer as the postseason rolls on.

“The kids are just buying into the brotherhood of playing for your teammates, your community and your family, your coaches and all that,” Shattuck said. “They’re becoming better with football IQ. We should be, though, when we’ve played the young kids that we’ve played for the last three years. It’s finally starting to show.”

The Owls averaged 21.2 points and gave up an average of 40.4 in the first five games and averaged 35.2 and gave up an average of 23 during the past five.

Seymour scored 38 or more points and averaged more than 490 yards of offense in those wins.

The Owls have had one big quarter in each of their victories — 22 in the third against Brownstown Central, 20 in the second against New Albany, 24 in the second against Madison and 30 in the third against Franklin County.

Shattuck said a big part of that success can be attributed to turnovers.

“We’re plus-25 in the turnover battle, which is really unbelievable in 10 games,” Shattuck said. “We’re forcing a lot of turnovers and taking care of the football. The last three weeks on our winning streak we’re nine touchdown passes and one interception and have not fumbled the football.

“To be way ahead in the turnover battle, that says a lot about your offense and your defense. We’ve thrown nine interceptions in 10 games, which is still more than I’d like, and we’ve lost three fumbles. Our goal is one or less (turnover per game), and we’re forcing three about every single week.”

Chris Knight continues to lead the Owls in tackles with 64 solos and 27 assists, and Todd Kiewitt is next with 61 solos and 25 assists.

Nick Richert has a team-high four fumble recoveries and five sacks.

Knight has four interceptions and Kiewitt has three.

Shattuck said he’s eager for the rematch against the Dragons. The Owls fell to Silver Creek 32-28 in the season opener Aug. 21 at Bulleit Stadium.

“We’re really looking at the opportunity of avenging a loss,” Shattuck said. “Even more so than advancing in the tournament, we have an opportunity to play a team that beat us, and that is a rare opportunity, especially when it’s a game that you feel you should have won.

“You feel like you could have done some things to put you in position to win. It’s a good opportunity for us, and we’re going to have to play well because they’re a good team, very similar to Franklin County. They play really hard, they’re well-coached, and they’re aggressive, and they come right at you, and they play sound on defense.”

The Dragons are 6-4 following a 42-31 win at Madison on Friday.

“That Week 1 game, you can basically throw out the window,” Shattuck said. “I’m not discrediting their win or saying anything like that. It was so long ago, and when we watch that film, we’re not watching that game and saying, ‘This is what Silver Creek’s good at.’ It’s what they’re good at now, and they’re looking at us as a team that’s won three in a row and four out of five.”

Shattuck said the Owls will have to get off to a better start than they did last Friday when they trailed Franklin County 22-16 at the half.

“We didn’t play very well in the first half last week on either side of the ball,” he said. “We forced a bunch of turnovers, but when they didn’t turn it over they were moving the ball and scoring points on our defense. Offensively, we were just atrocious. We had two huge plays that resulted in touchdowns, but other than that we had nothing. We played a lot better in the second half.”

If you go

What: Seymour (4-6) at Silver Creek (6-4), Sectional 23 semifinals

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Where: Silver Creek Field

Radio: 92.7-WXKU

Last outing: Seymour def. Franklin County 46-30, Silver Creek def. Madison 42-31

Most recent meeting: Silver Creek won 32-28 on Aug. 21

Series past 30 years: Silver Creek 1-0

Arv Koontz is a sports correspondent for The (Seymour) Tribune.