The outcome of Friday night’s Seymour-East Central football game is going to come down to who executes its game plan better.
That is the feeling of Seymour coach Josh Shattuck, as he prepares his team for the Class 4A Sectional 23 championship game.
“It’s just about us and East Central, and whoever executes better Friday, plays more physical, has a better plan will come out on top,” Shattuck said. “It’s a game you look forward to playing in because it’s the sectional final.”
The Owls take an 8-3 record and an eight-game winning streak into the game, while the Trojans are 9-2.
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East Central’s losses were to Cincinnati LaSalle 31-0 in their third game of the season, and to Indianapolis Chatard 20-7 in their ninth game of the season.
While the Owls are on a roll, they’ve stayed focused on the task at hand.
“The eight wins in a row is just a testament to how hard our kids work, and the progress we’ve made, but it hasn’t come from winning one, or two or three in a row,” Shattuck said. “We just win one in a row every week and that’s kind of how we look at it.
“Now we’re just getting ready for East Central. None of the wins we’ve had before helps us, and none of the games we could play potentially after this will help us.”
East Central is averaging 31.2 points per game and gives up an average of 16.3.
The Trojans defeated Shelbyville 41-27 in the first round of the sectional and last Friday topped Franklin County 30-20.
Both teams feature strong running games.
Logan Storie leads the Trojans’ ground game with 1,508 yards on 161 carries for an average of 9.4 yards per carry, and 19 touchdowns.
Their quarterback, Alex Maxwell, has gained 882 yards on 139 carries for an average of 6.3 yards per carry and 11 touchdowns.
“They’re just old-school power football,” Shattuck said. “They’re in the ‘I’ a lot. They’ll run out of the shotgun a lot with the same principles. Ultimately, it’s downhill run. They’ll throw the ball a little bit if they need to, they just haven’t needed to. They just haven’t needed to in a long time.
“Hopefully, we can force them into throwing the football a little bit and take away what they want to do best.”
Maxwell has completed 50 of 106 passes for 681 yards and 7 touchdowns with 4 interceptions.
Justin Brown leads the Trojans in receiving with 16 catches for 193 yards and 1 touchdown, while Garren Messmore has 10 catches for 239 yards and 4 TDs.
Seymour QB Alan Perry leads the Owls’ running game with 1,134 carries on 191 carries for an average of 5.9, and 23 touchdowns, including a 94-yard run against New Albany.
Zach Carpenter has gained 766 yards on 143 carries for an average of 5.4 and 8 TDs.
Perry has completed 110 of 204 passes for 148 yards and 12 scores.
Jackson Morris tops the Owls in receiving with 46 catches for 577 yards and six TDs.
“They’re very good defensively, and they’re stout,” Shattuck said. “So we’ve got to give them kind of a mixed bag, and we’re going to really focus on our execution and overwhelm people at the line of scrimmage. They are a very good, physical football team.
“We’re just going to make sure that we spread the ball around and make ourselves difficult to defend and as we do every week, just find certain areas that we feel we can take advantage of.”
The Owls have lowered their defensive average to 28.5, and are averaging 33.8 points per game.
SHS has allowed only six points in its two sectional wins.
“I think our guys all know what their responsibility is, what their job is and they continue to work hard on that side of the ball, and we’ve forced turnovers the past few weeks,” Shattuck said. “We’re getting healthy, and that’s the other big thing, too.
“We’re gaining some depth. Some of our younger kids have come in and helped us a lot. (Sophomore) Devin Hill, with his first varsity game (at Jennings County) made what I would say is the play of the game.”
Hill intercepted a pass and returned it 64 yards for a touchdown in the second period. He also recovered a fumble in the third quarter.
Alex Franklin leads the Owls in total tackles with 54 solos and 17 assists for a total of 71. Evens Cribs has 50 solo and 20 assists for 70 tackles.
“Our defense has been very good,” Shattuck said. “We’re taking away the run and the pass right now. The last couple weeks we’ve kind of been locked down in all aspects. There’s a big difference in having a roster with good players and having a roster that is equal as a good team, and I think that is one of the things I’m most proud of.”
The Owls’ starting lineup has adjusted in recent weeks but still found success.
“We’ve had some key injuries and we don’t make any excuses,” Shattuck said. “Todd Kiewitt is out (knee injury), Coby Shepherd hasn’t played the last two weeks — he’s our starting center — and we’ve had to rotate and play guys both ways and do all those things and good teams find a way. I’m so very proud of their effort.”
Shattuck recalled that last year the Owls played their best ball the second half of the season, and that is true again this fall and he is hoping that momentum continues.
“When we went there last year we kind of got hot at the end and were playing our best ball at the end of the season,” Shattuck said. “But, it wasn’t as sustained as it is has been this year. We knew we wanted to get back (to the sectional finals), but more importantly let’s see if we can win the thing.”
Class 4A Sectional 23 Championship
What: East Central (9-2) at Seymour (8-3)
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Bulleit Stadium
Radio: 92.7 Nash Icon
Last outing: East Central def. Franklin County 30-20, Seymour def. Jennings County 43-0.
Most recent meeting: East Central won 58-6 on Nov. 6, 2015 (sectional championship).
Series past 30 years: East Central 8-2.