By Arv Koontz
For The Tribune
Seymour football coach Josh Shattuck says although Friday night’s Class 4A Sectional 23 championship loss to East Central is disappointing, the Owls can look back on the season with a lot of pride.
“Hats off to (East Central) — they’re good,” he commented following the 52-8 loss at Bulleit Stadium. “They deserved to win. They are the better team. It will be a learning experience for us, but we’re really going to focus on what these guys have accomplished this season, really over the course of four seasons. I’m really proud of all of our players.”
Shattuck and the Owls increased the win total from zero to two, to five, to eight this fall.
“For our seniors, in their junior and senior years they won twice in the Jackson Bowl, back-to-back sectional championship game appearances,” Shattuck said. “They finished second in the Hoosier Hills Conference this year.
“Those numbers might not sound like breath-taking numbers, but for where we were its phenomenal. For our 19 seniors, they have set the bar for our underclassmen to really understand what it takes to win.
The Owls carried an eight-game win streak into Friday’s game.
“I thought we had a good game plan going in,” Shattuck said. “We actually executed it pretty well, but the problem is running the ball against a team like that is really difficult.”
On the Owls’ first drive of the second quarter, a 50-yard pass from Alan Perry to Jackson Morris moved the ball to the East Central 28, and the Owls ran the ball to the 20-yard line before losing possession on downs.
Later in the second period the Owls put together a 17-play drive in which they moved the ball to the Trojans’ five yard line before Perry was intercepted in the end zone on the final play of the first half.
“I think the game turned in the second quarter when we couldn’t score,” Shattuck said. “We had three really good drives and put (two drives) in the red zone and couldn’t score. I think if we keep it close there at halftime it allows us to open things up a little bit in the second half.”
The Trojans came up with another interception on the first play of the third quarter and returned it for a touchdown to take a 24-0 lead.
Seymour scored in its next possession with Nathan O’Mara running 10 yards for the TD.
“They’re just a good football team. That’s why they lost in the state championship game last year and they’re playing in the regional this year,” Shattuck said. “I’m very impressed with them, and very pleased overall with the season we had and the direction our program is heading.”
East Central will play Evansville Reitz, which topped Evansville Harrison 52-7 in the sectional finals in Evansville.
“We fully expect to be back, and be back stronger than ever,” Shattuck said. “We owe it to our guys that have come through the program and done such a good job for us. We’re going to miss the seniors as people more than anything. They’re good players, and that’s nothing against their ability to play with their character, their work ethic, their togetherness.
“We’re going to struggle to replace that, but at the same time I feel very strongly that because of what they’ve done for their program, they’ve set an example of what it takes to lead and what it takes to keep your head up, and what it takes to fight through adversity that our younger kids will be able to grab that torch from them and run with it.”