Every season, the Brownstown Central football team has the same motto in the tournament.
“The games in November are the games you remember.”
If schedules, records and statistics serve as any indication, this Friday’s Sectional 31 Championship in Huntingburg could serve as an unforgettable contest.
With their 46-10 victory at Salem last week, the Class 3A No. 9 Braves (10-1) secured a matchup at No. 6 Southridge (10-1) in the title game.
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Brownstown aims for their 12th crown in coach Reed May’s 24 years of coaching.
Last season the Braves blanked the Raiders 37-0 at Bulleit Stadium for the hardware.
This fall, the Raiders’ lone loss is to No. 1 Gibson Southern — who was knocked-out of the postseason by No. 11 Evansville Memorial in the first-round of Sectional 32.
In the postseason, they’ve defeated No. 14 Heritage Hills 37-34 in double overtime and North Harrison 24-7.
Gibson Southern defeated the Braves in last year’s regional, and the winner of Sectional 31 this week will face the victor of Memorial and No. 17 Sullivan the following week in regional.
This year’s Raiders have crafted a handful of adjustments while upgrading their facilities to a turf field since the last Braves trip in 2008 (a 26-6 victory in regional).
In many regards, the two teams’ offenses mirror one another.
“They changed their offense and defense,” May said. “Last year, they ran a Wing-T. They’re still a Wing-T, but have evolved into something like us with the shotgun Wing-T. What they’re doing offensively is similar to what we did last year but a different version.”
Four rushers have paved the way for the Raiders, who are averaging 284.7 rushing yards per game.
On the ground, sophomore fullback Tucker Schank has led the way with 1,305 with nine touchdowns.
Junior quarterback Jayce Harter has amassed 742 yards with 11 TDs while seniors Nolan O’Brien (729 yards, 13 TD) and Ross Eckert (266 yards, 10 TD) have also bulldozed for scoring drives.
“You have reads when you play a game, and you hope to do it well,” May said of the defensive plan. “They do an exceptional job with their offense and haven’t been slowed down a lot.”
On the flip side, Brownstown’s rushing attack hasn’t faltered through the postseason.
Against Salem, with three quarters of varsity playing time, the Braves managed 240 yards with five touchdowns.
Fullback Lance Goecker accounted for two of those scores to go along with 51 yards while QB Kyle Kramer (113 yards), Gavin Bane (29 yards) and Derek Rieckers (8 yards) each added TDs.
On defense, the Braves held the dynamic, record-breaking QB-WR duo of Seth Hobson and Evan Brishaber to a single TD.
Southridges’ defensive scheme has also morphed in 2016 from a 4-4 to an odd man front, May said.
The Raiders have some studs on the defensive side of the ball.
Seymour has seven different players with over 60 total tackles, led by 96 from senior Jack Michel (52 solo, 44 assists).
Dropping back, the Raiders have also picked off opposing quarterbacks 12 times for interceptions. Senior Braden Harding has seven of those takeaways.
The Braves have remained composed and confident this week in preparation, as they take on their toughest challenge yet.
“(Southridge) is a great football team: they’re 10-1 for a reason,” May said. “It’s November, and these are the games (players and coaches) will remember for the rest of (our) lives. We always tell the kids to create lifetimes memories, so when you get to my age you remember these games.”
Class 3A Sectional 31 Championship
What: Brownstown Central (10-1) at Southridge (10-1)
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Radio: 96.3 WJAA
Where: Raider Field
Last outing: Brownstown Central def. Salem 46-10, Southridge def. North Harrison 24-7.
Previous meeting: Brownstown Central won 37-0 on Nov. 6, 2015 (sectional championship)
Series past 30 years: Brownstown Central 3-1