For The Tribune
Playing in sectional championships has become almost routine for Brownstown Central’s football team, but the Braves turned Friday’s Class 3A Sectional 31 final into a special occasion.
For the first time in 18 tries, Brownstown (10-2) recorded a defensive shutout, blanking Southridge 37-0 in an unexpectedly dominant performance.
“I thought it would be defensive game, but I expected them to put up a lot of points,” BC linebacker Jacob Brewer said as his team celebrated. “Our defense played a great game tonight.”
Friday’s victory gave Brownstown its 11th sectional title and moves the Braves into next week’s regional, where the consensus No. 1 team in Class 3A, Gibson Southern, awaits. The Titans (12-0) handily defeated Princeton in the Sectional 32 championship.
Brownstown and Gibson Southern met in the 2013 regional, which GS won, 44-29.
“We have a saying that the games in November are the ones you remember,” Brownstown head coach Reed May said. “I’m proud of our kids. To shut out a team like Southridge is a real accomplishment. (Defensive coordinator Shane) Fallis did an outstanding job calling the game and preparing our kids.”
Friday’s win was May’s 50th postseason victory as Brownstown’s head coach. Before May, the Braves had no tournament victories.
“We told our kids, ‘You don’t know what you’ve got here,’” May said. “Sometimes, we get a little spoiled. Other programs very seldom get to a sectional championship.”
Led by Brewer and the defense, the Braves certainly didn’t play with an entitlement attitude Friday.
Besides holding Southridge 34 points below its season average, Brownstown limited the Raiders to just 49 net rushing yards and just 3.4 yards per play.
Brewer, a senior, finished with a game-high 13 tackles, including a brickwall stop of Southridge running back Mitchell Mundy on fourth down at the Brownstown 1-yard line, preserving the shutout.
“The last two years, we’ve had a strong defense and I was always a step behind the guys who made the plays,” Brewer said. “It feels great to be the person who makes the plays.”
Brewer was joined by a host of other Braves who made big plays. Sophomore Lendon Underwood (nine tackles) and junior Devin Stuckwisch (seven tackles) spent much of their nights in Southridge’s backfield.
Underwood had three tackles for loss, while Stuckwisch has two sacks for 13 lost yards.
Overall, the Braves ended with 11 tackles behind the line of scrimmage for losses of 37 yards. Besides Stuckwisch, Trevor Colby and Clay Wilkerson sacked Southridge quarterback Gaage Fetter. John McKinney added an interception.
While the defense dominated, the offense was just as effective. The Braves continually gashed the Raiders’ defense, generating 10 plays of 10 yards or more and nearly averaging 10 yards (9.7) per play.
For the fourth straight week, Brownstown ran for more than 330 yards, punishing Southridge for 367 yards on the ground. Two BC runners, McKinney (102 yards) and Kyle Kramer (101), crossed the 100-yard mark, while a third, Gavin Bane, ended with 97 yards.
Following a 44-yard run by McKinney, Kramer got the scoring started with a five-yard touchdown run. On the Braves’ next possession, Kramer and Bane connected on a 75-yard TD pass.
With just 17 seconds left in the first half, Kramer scored on a two-yard run to push Brownstown’s lead to 22-0.
After a bad third-quarter snap on a punt attempt by Southridge gave BC the ball on the Raiders’ 13 yard line, Justin Donnells scored to increase the lead to 30-0.
For the second straight week, Kramer scored three touchdowns when he plunged into the end zone from three yards out with 5:06 left in the game.