To get to the top, you need to get through the best in your class.
The Brownstown Central football team faces its toughest challenge of the season Friday at Fort Branch as the Braves take on Class A No. 1 Gibson Southern in a regional bout.
It will be a tall task for the Braves (10-2), as Gibson Southern (12-0) has dominated their competition this season, winning by an average of 49 points per game and posting a state second-best 58 per contest.
This season the Titans have relied on a spread offense, utilizing their strength under center.
The Titans are led by senior quarterback Nick Sellers, who has 2,720 passing yards (236.5 avg.), 36 touchdowns (50 total TDs including rushes) and just four interceptions in 2015.
Sellers is tied for the most passing touchdowns and is No. 5 in yards in Class 3A.
“They’re very good at throwing the ball,” Braves senior corner back John McKinney said. “Their offense, overall, is very good. We will need to focus in on our keys.”
The quarterback’s favorite target is fellow senior Grant Allen, who has 775 receiving yards on 48 catches and 11 touchdowns.
“We haven’t seen a team like these guys, that can pass the ball, this season,” Braves coach Reed May said. “We have in the past, but not this year. A lot of their key players were sophomores we played two years ago. They’re a legitimate No. 1 team in the state. They have a lot of weapons.”
With seven receivers with multiple touchdowns on the season, Sellers isn’t afraid to distribute the ball throughout the lineup.
The high-powered Titans offense also has relied on sophomore Dylan Stefanich in the ground game.
Stefanich leads the team with 968 yards on 115 carries with 14 rushing touchdowns.
The Titans’ defense has mustered a solid season, giving up 107 points through 12 games with four shutouts.
“If we do our reads and play as a team we can do some stuff,” Braves senior Justin Donnells said. “More than anything, we have to do our plays right on offense. We have to play our own game.”
On their roster, the Titans boast 11 players of more than 200 pounds that play on the defensive and offensive lines.
With 76 total athletes on the team, most of the Titans’ players play one position.
The Braves have 52 athletes, many which play on both sides of the ball.
“It’s going to be a challenge for our offense against them,” May said. “We have moved the ball pretty well against our opponents so far, but (Gibson Southern’s) defense has given up no more than 21 points in a game all year.”
May said that keeping long possessions on offense will prove crucial to the team’s success in the matchup.
“The film I’ve seen, no one has moved the ball against them,” May said. “It will be a challenge for our offense. But you still have to play the game. We feel that we have a pretty good football team, and we know they have a great football team, we will see how it goes when we get down there.
“The key is that we need to move the ball somehow. (Gibson Southern) got beat twice last year by Heritage Hills. I think that Heritage Hills was able to hold onto the ball. They pounded the ball against them. If we control he ball, we have a chance.”
In the postseason, the Braves have recorded 124 points while giving up just 37.
The Braves are coming off a 37-0 thumping against Southridge this past Friday.
“That was a good Southridge football team; our defense executed the gameplan perfectly,” May said. “We were able to shut them down. What we were hoping was to shut down their running game. I thought it was a great effort for our team.”
McKinney led the running game for the Braves with 104 yards, quarterback Kyle Kramer had 101 and Gavin Bane added 97.
As a team, the ground-and-pound wing-T offense tallied 374 yards, while Kramer threw for 82.
Braves senior Jacob Brewer expects a high-scoring affair against Gibson Southern.
“Recently, we’ve done a lot better on our assignments off the football,” Brewer said.
“We need to know what we’re doing on our schemes. Last game, I thought it would be a high scoring game but we got a lot of stops. I kind of think it will be that way this game — it will be high scoring and whoever gets the more stops will win.”
Should the Braves (10-2) win, they will host Bishop Chatard or Batesville in semistate action Nov. 20.
In 2013, Gibson Southern defeated Brownstown Central in the regional 44-29.
The last time Brownstown Central advanced to the semistate was 2008, after defeating Southridge 26-6 in regional play.
What: Brownstown Central (10-2) at Gibson Southern (12-0), regional
When: 7 p.m. CT Friday
Where: Jack Jewell Field
Last outing: Brownstown Central def. Southridge 37-0, Gibson Southern def. Princeton 49-21
Most recent meeting: Gibson Southern won 44-29, Nov. 15, 2013 (regional)
Series past 30 years: Gibson Southern 1-0
The Brownstown Central High School varsity football coaches have announced awards for Friday’s 37-0 win against Southridge in the Sectional 31 Championiship game.
Earning honors are Kyle Kramer, Offensive Back MVP; Clay Wilkerson, Offensive Line MVP; Jacob Brewer and Lendon Underwood, Defensive Line/Inside Linebacker MVP;Devin Stuckwisch, Defensive Back/Dime MVP; Gavin Bane, Special Teams MVP; Bryce Hughes, Scout Team MVP; Brewer, Wilkerson, Underwood, Derek Rieckers, Justin Donnells black jersey winners.