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Big Cat Classic is this Friday night

Dust off the old lettermen jackets, grab the kids and lock up the doors.
Friday night’s annual Big Cat Classic pigskin matchup at 7:30 between Corydon Central and North Harrison will probably be like every other in the series: unpredictable.
Host North Harrison sits at 1-6 on the season with its only victory coming in the season-opener at West Washington. Nevertheless, senior running back Gary Fessel is racking up yards like a wild man and showed no ill effects from a two-game offensive absence in last Friday night’s loss to Clarksville. He racked up a school-record 306 yards of rushing to bring his season total to 855 yards with nine touchdowns. He currently averages 171.6 yards per game, which ranks 8th in the state.
Fessel has been equally impressive against Corydon during his career. As a sophomore Fessel had 178 yards — including scoring a 72-yard rushing TD on the opening play — and in last season’s victory notched 126. Undoubtedly, the defensive-oriented Panthers must slow North’s senior to have any hope of bucking a three-game losing streak to their rivals.
South of Ramsey, things are looking so good that it’s almost hard to imagine this is the same Panthers team that lost 22-straight games and had some short-sighted folks in the community wondering if the football program should be discontinued.
Prior to last Friday’s win over West Washington — Corydon’s third “W” of the season — a big question mark popped up when the team’s leading rusher, Josh Spencer, went down with a high ankle sprain and one of its leading tacklers, Ben Miller, hit the turf with his own ankle injury.
Sophomore running back Corey Thatcher answered one of the questions with 135 yards rushing in the second half while the defense proved it could handle Miller’s loss.
So what will the difference be? Corydon coach Darin Ward thinks it’ll be just like any other trophy game.
“It’s going to come down to who makes the fewest mistakes both with the ball and in penalties,” Ward said.
He should know all about trophy games. As a tight end for Bill Mallory’s Indiana Hoosiers, Ward battled for the Bourbon Barrel (vs. Kentucky), the Old Brass Spittoon (vs. Michigan State) and the ever-famous Old Oaken Bucket (vs. Purdue).
North Harrison coach Dan Haskell reminded his team of Corydon’s success during his post-game talk last week against Clarksville.
“Right now, Corydon’s feeling really good about themselves and rightfully so,” Haskell said. “I know our seniors want it, but I’m not 100 percent sure the whole team wants it and that’s what it’s going to take for us to beat Corydon.”