Seymour’s football team scored the first touchdown of the game in its final six games of the regular season.
The Owls, however, were 3-3 in those games.
Coach Mike Kelly wants to see that string of scoring touchdowns first continue Friday night when the Owls host Columbus East in a Class 4A Sectional 15 matchup.
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It is the only game scheduled in Sectional 15 on Friday night. There are only five teams in the sectional. Bedford North Lawrence drew the bye and will play the Seymour-East winner, and New Albany and Floyd Central are in the other bracket and will play a week from Friday.
Kelly said it will take an outstanding performance by the Owls to “shock the state.”
“They are who they are,” he said. “I don’t care who their opponent has been this season. They’ve been able to move the ball on the ground effectively and efficiently, and they do a great job using their play-action pass to keep you on your toes so that you can’t get your safeties too much involved in the run game.
“So they do a great job, and at the point of attack, their offensive line plays very well and uses great leverage, great footwork, great demeanor when they block, and all those things has enabled — as well as having great tailbacks and a quarterback who can run the ball — them to be very effective and efficient on the ground.”
The Olympians, 8-1 overall, won the Hoosier Hills Conference with a mark of 7-0. They are averaging 49.9 points per game and giving up 15.4, while the Owls average 24.4 and allow 28.6 per game.
East topped Seymour 44-6 in a downpour Sept. 1 at Bulleit Stadium.
Jamon Hogan leads the Olympians’ ground game with 1,432 yards on 143 carries and 25 touchdowns. Quarterback Josh Major has gained 756 yards and scored 10 touchdowns on 96 carries and also has completed 53 of 64 passes for 869 yards and nine touchdowns with one interception.
In the earlier game at Seymour, Hogan gained 182 yards on 24 carries and scored three touchdowns, and Major gained 95 yards on 12 carries and scored twice. Jaedin Miller gained 70 yards on 10 carries and on the season has 537 yards on 77 carries and 13 touchdowns.
“The biggest thing for us is to do things we have been working on all season,” Kelly said. “We see glimpses of great things from our football program, from our football team on the defensive side of the ball when we play with great technique.
“I think sometimes, we forget about our technique and we start worrying about getting the ball, and it’s a step-by-step process in order to get that accomplished. The big part is ‘When I lose my technique and my fundamentals, I start worrying about me instead of the team.’ That’s one thing we’re preaching hard this week is the team-over-me mentality, ‘I’m going to do my job, and I may not make every play, but the team is going to benefit because I’m going to do my job.’”
Junior Justice Perry continues to lead the Owls in tackles with 52 tackles and 26 assists for 78 total tackles. Brendan McCartney is second on the list with 41 tackles and 30 assists, Devin Hill has 68 total tackles and Dustin Metz has 64 tackles.
Seymour’s personnel will be different than the first time the Owls faced the Olympians.
Nathan O’Mara scored Seymour’s touchdown in the earlier game but suffered a shoulder injury at Floyd Central and hasn’t played since.
Seymour’s top two receivers, Tyler Bullard and Alazae Louden, did not play against East. Bullard leads the Owls in receptions with 32 for 648 yards and six touchdowns, while Louden has caught 21 passes for 253 yards. Jack Roberts is next with 19 catches.
Kelly said the rain was a factor in the teams’ previous meeting.
“(The rain) played into their hand quite effectively, and they are fine running the football all night long. I think last week, they threw three times (in a 48-24 win against Bedford North Lawrence). They are good on a wet or dry surface,” he said.
The Owls completed one pass in the Sept. 1 game.
“I think for us, we need more balance in our offense,” Kelly said. “We need to be able to throw the ball. It will help us out if we have dry weather. We don’t have to worry about the inability to pass. The last time we played, we could just not throw the ball whatsoever. Plus, we have some or our receivers back this week that did not play that game, so that will help us out, as well.”
On the season, quarterback Alan Perry has completed 105 of 184 passes for 1,744 yards and 17 touchdowns.
He is Seymour’s leading rusher with 599 yards on 107 carries and nine touchdowns. The Owls have 14 touchdowns on the ground.
Kelly said balance will be one of the keys to Friday’s game.
“As always, the point of attack is imperative on winning the line of scrimmage. (The Olympians) have a great defensive line, so our guys have to play with great leverage and great footwork,” he said.
“And also, making the throws and making the reads in his progression effectively is important. Alan does a great job of doing that most of the time. The thing is you’ve got to take what they give you, not what you want. I think sometimes, we look for the big ball, and sometimes, they give us the out or the slant as the case may be. We’ve got to take what the defensive provides and move down the field.”
Completions and ball control are imperative, too, he said.
“We’ve got to play a clean game offensive and defensively,” Kelly said. “I told our players that we have not yet this year played a complete football game. We need to play four quarters.
“The thing is there is no pressure on us, and the reality is no one in the state is going to give us a chance to win Friday night. That doesn’t matter. What matters is what we believe.”