Cougars bury Paoli to remain perfect on season
The North Harrison Cougars, ranked 11th in last week’s Class 3A poll, kept their record unblemished and set a school record as they improved to 4-0 with a 48-0 shellacking of visiting Paoli Friday night.
Despite the lopsided win, however, there were some things coach Jason Mullis saw that still need some tweaking.
‘We had some breakdowns,’ Mullis said. ‘Our ends weren’t closing down as well in the dive plays tonight. That might be because this week it’s hard to get up for Paoli because they’re 0-3. We played hard and came out with a victory. We got a shutout, and it’s our first one of the season, so we’re excited.’
Paoli had the early possession, but the North Harrison defense forced the Rams to punt the ball.
The Cougars, however, had a different ending to their drive.
The drive’s 10th play saw quarterback Michael Dean run a keeper from the 1-yard line into the end zone, putting North Harrison on the board. John Becker’s extra point kick gave the Cougars a 7-0 lead.
North Harrison used its ground game to dominate the remainder of the half. Bryan Schroeder had the first of three big touchdown runs with a 91-yard effort. He followed that with touchdown runs of 84 and 70 yards to push the Cougar lead to 27-0.
Schroeder leads the state in rushing, averaging 220 yards per game (about 28 yards per game more than second-place Darren Evans of Warren Central), and he’s third in the state in scoring, averaging 18.5 points per contest.
With 4:35 to go in the half, Isaac Davis also got a big run in, racing 71 yards for another Cougar TD, to give North Harrison a 34-0 halftime advantage.
‘We were excited about it,’ Mullis said. ‘Bryan did a nice job. The line did an awesome job, and they have all year. Isaac had some big ones. Our offense is starting to click now.’
Davis got his second touchdown ‘ a 32-yard rump ‘ less than three minutes into the second half to push the Cougar’s lead to 41-0.
The Cougars’ final score came with 3:31 to go in the quarter as Dean also got a second touchdown for the 48-0 final.
North Harrison’s second stringers got under the lights for the final quarter to finish the game.
‘This is our first time at 4-0, so we’re excited about it,’ Mullis said. ‘The kids played hard and came out with a victory. Our kids want to stay in and get their yardage, but we’ve got a lot of tough games. We don’t need to be taking chances of anybody getting hurt, because we’ve got to stay healthy. In a game like this, the JV wants to get in there. They want to play under Friday night lights, too.’
North Harrison finished with 626 yards for the game, including 593 the ground. Schroeder had 15 carries for 306 yards and three touchdowns. Davis finished with 152 yards on eight carries and two TDs, and Dean had two carries for 59 yards, two touchdowns and completed three of his seven passes. Corey Isaacs finished with 4 carries for 36 yards.
On defense Davis recorded eight tackles and two assists. Geno Hedgespeth had six put-downs and three assists.
‘We’ve still got to work on our passing game,’ Mullis said. ‘We had some things out there we were trying to do and we’ve got a lot to get better on.’
David Conley led Paoli with 144 yards on 16 carries, and Ben White tallied 39 yards on nine carries. Quarterback Matt Warner threw for 101 yards on 7-for-17 passing, and the Rams finished with 277 yards of total offense.
‘We had some pass breakdowns in the first part and their fullback is one of the better fullbacks we’ll face,’ Mullis said. ‘Conley is a great ball player. He runs extremely hard, and I have a lot of respect for him. He did a nice job.’
‘It was an awesome game,’ Mullis said. ‘Bryan had some really nice runs. Isaac had some nice runs. The line did an awesome job.
‘I was very pleased with the way we did it. We’ve got some things on defense we’ve got to work out, but they didn’t score and we toughened up when it got down to it. We’ll watch film and see what they got down on us and try to pick up a win next week.’
The Cougars face a big test this Friday as they hit the road to face undefeated South Decatur in a 7:30 p.m. start.
Decatur has won its four games by an average of 34 points and its defense has recorded three straight shutouts.
North Harrison has matched the 1982 team for the best start ever at 4-0. That year, the Cougars’ first loss came to Clarksville in Week 5, 13-8, en route to a 7-3 campaign.