For The Tribune
The Seymour football team has faced several teams that feature what coach Josh Shattuck calls a “downhill run” attack.
On Friday, the Owls will face another one of those squads when they travel to East Central for the Class 4A Sectional 23 championship.
The Trojans are 8-2, with their losses to Cincinnati LaSalle 43-20, and to Indianapolis Roncalli 31-10.
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“They’re really good,” Shattuck said. “They’re as good as we’ve seen in a long time. The way our schedule worked out, this is the best downhill run team that we’ve seen since Columbus East.
“They have a very strong identity, that’s for sure. They’ve got a kid to do it, No. 9, (Luke) Patton is more of a running back than a running back.
He can throw the ball, but he’s their leading rusher.”
Shattuck is putting a game plan in place to contain Patton.
“(Patton) is a good player, one of the best if not the best, that we’ll see this year,” Shattuck said. “Hopefully us playing in the Hoosier Hills Conference, and playing some bigger schools — Jeffersonville with the athleticism they show us, New Albany and some of the kids they have, and the size, strength and speed of Columbus East — we can draw back on those things. We’ll be prepared.”
Patton has rushed 186 times for 1,283 yards (6.9 average) and 25 touchdowns.
Last week, Patton had 34 carries in the 36-25 win against Shelbyville.
The Trojans also have Doug Rosemeyer, who has carried 161 times and gained 1,195 yards (7.4 average) with 11 touchdowns.
East Central averages 35.5 points per game while giving up 18.4.
“We’ve been preparing for this for a month, if you really look at our schedule,” Shattuck said.
“The last three games we’ve played nothing but downhill run. Columbus East is straight downhill run, and so is Floyd Central.”
The Owls, who are averaging 29.3 points per game while giving up 30.7, take a 5-6 record and four-game winning streak to St. Leon.
“The biggest thing is just finding balance,” Shattuck said “When we’re able to run the ball and throw the ball we’re pretty effective. We have a lot of hidden yards rushing. A lot of people think we’re some big spread passing team, and we’re really not. We ran the ball 40 times last week to 24 passing.
“We’re not a good enough passing team to sit back there and sling it 50 times, and not a good enough running team to run it 60 times. I’d like to run it every play and be effective that way, but that’s just not the makeup of our team.”
The Owls have scored 22 touchdowns rushing.
Zach Carpenter leads the Owls in rushing with 807 yards in 171 carries (4.7). Alan Perry has seven rushing touchdowns, Jackson Morris has six, Carpenter five and Luke Dover four.
Perry and Morris have put their names in the Seymour record books over the past few weeks.
Perry now holds the school record for pass completions (183) and attempts (277) in a season.
He has passed for 2,150 yards, and has a good chance to move into second place on the single-season Seymour list. Ben Weller and Austin Sutton are tied for second with 2,158 yards in the Seymour record books.
Morris has caught 64 passes this fall to pass the former mark of 60, held by Wade Fox.
“We don’t have a lot of size in our offensive line,” Shattuck said. “Our left tackle is 175 pounds, our center is 190 pounds. We’ve been able to make it work with that group. They’re hard-working kids. They’re what we call 100 percenters. They don’t miss in the offseason.”
“In our system we leave guys unblocked by design so that helps a little bit with that, and double teams and a lot of sealing off backside blocks, so we’re able to play some smaller, more athletic kids on the line.”
The line will play a crucial role in the game.
“All five of them are juniors,” Shattuck said. “Two of them started last year, but the other three had never really played varsity at the offensive line spots. You hope they get a lot better as the season goes along and that has been the case.”
“Coach (Brice) Darling does a great job with those kids, and they’re playing hard and he’s coaching hard, and the development is visible.”
The left tackle is Nick Richert, Coby Shepherd plays left guard, center is Dalton Miller, right guard is Jared Whipker, and Cailen Shepherd posts up at right tackle.
The Owls are plus-25 in turnovers this season.
“That is unheard of, and that’s really been the key for us,” Shattuck said. “We’ve had two turnovers in the last four games. Obviously, I don’t like two turnovers, I’d like zero, but that is very low.
“We’ve forced seven turnovers in the kick game, which is another unbelievable number. It’s not onside kicks. We just squib it and a lot of times teams can’t handle it, or have trouble understanding who’s fielding it and the ball gets sprayed and we mix it up with that.”’
Shattuck credited defensive coordinator Ryan McCartney with many of the successes on the turnover ratio.
On the attack, the Owls will adjust in-game.
“Offensively we’ll take whatever the defense gives us,” Shattuck said. “If they’re going to make us grind it out, we’re prepared to do that, if we think we can get stuff over the top we’re prepared to do that.
“People keep doubting us, but it’s been almost two straight months of really shutdown defense. Chris Knight is a heck of a leader over on that side of the ball getting kids lined up, and we’ve got kids flying around. It’s not a coincidence that we’ve forced 36 turnovers in 11 games.”
What: Seymour (5-6) at East Central (9-2), Sectional 23 Championship
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Scott Field
Last outing: Seymour def. Silver Creek 40-21, East Central def. Shelbyville 36-25
Most recent meeting: East Central won 35-7, Oct. 19, 2007 (Sectional)
Series past 30 years: East Central 7-2