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Football draw opens opportunities for Cougars, Panthers

The Class 3A, Sectional 23 football playoff features a pair of undefeated teams ‘ Heritage Hills and Charlestown ‘ and two teams that have yet to win a game ‘ Brown County and Crawford County. Fortunately for area teams Corydon Central and North Harrison, they will avoid a possible showdown with either of the undefeated teams until the sectional final, if they pick up two wins.
Corydon Central at Crawford County, 7 p.m.
The Panthers will travel to Crawford County to take on the first-year program. The Wolfpack (0-9) are still searching for their first win of the season. They were shut out by North Harrison 40-0 last Friday, and their closest taste of victory came in a 34-31 loss to Eastern Greene on Sept. 7.
Corydon Central head coach Jason Timberlake said his team is well aware of what they are up against, in a team hungry for a win.
Things haven’t been going the way Corydon Central has wanted this year in the win-loss column. The Panthers (3-6) have lost four games in a row, but with an extremely young team, Timberlake sees the favorable sectional draw as an advantage to mix several young players with the older group this Friday.
‘This is the best possible draw we could have gotten,’ Timberlake said. ‘We’ve got some guys injured. Having the new kids going through practice this week, we’re going to have some junior varsity kids play some more on Friday.’
The junior varsity program finished with a 7-0 record, and Corydon Central coaching staff is starting to incorporate many of the young players at the varsity level.
‘There were a few kids we noticed could come up (to varsity) and play,’ Timberlake said. ‘We got a win in week two and decided to stick with the older guys and keep the JV together. We got some injuries to some key older guys and now we are working in some younger players.’
Crawford County, who plays in the Patoka Lake Athletic Conference, averages just over 10 points per game, but gives up over 40. Timberlake said their goal is to contain Wolfpack quarterback Daniel Allen.
Edgewood at North Harrison, 7:30 p.m.
North Harrison (3-6) enters the playoffs winning two of its final three regular season games. Last Friday, the Cougars dominated Crawford County, 40-0.
Injuries have plagued the Cougars from week one when they lost running back Corey Isaac for the season. Week two was worse, with standout running back Bryan Schroeder injuring his foot against rival Corydon Central. North Harrison head coach Jason Mullis and his staff have worked on their personnel issues and have players in line to lead the Cougar’ post-season run.
Isaac and Schroeder were replaced by Matt Bruderle, who has rushed for more than 1,300 yards as a freshman. He has turned into Mr. Do-it-all, returning kicks and punts, along with playing some safety on defense.
Mullis said the biggest advantage heading into week one of the playoffs is that Edgewood (4-5) will have to travel more than two hours to play in Ramsey.
Offensively, Mullis said Edgewood runs primarily a spread, shotgun formation on offense. Most of their yardage comes from quarterback Josh Collier.
‘This kid from Edgewood is the most athletic quarterback we have faced,’ Mullis said.
As far as match-up, it should be the closest of the first-round games in the sectional, at least on paper. Edgewood gives up 32 points per game and scores 20.8 per contest, while North Harrison scores about 24 points and gives up 21 points per game.
‘We don’t know the level of competition they play in their conference compared to ours, but on paper the two teams seem identical,’ Mullis said.
The question looming on the mind of the Cougars’ faithful is the status of Schroeder. The senior, who has verbally committed to Central Michigan, will be out another week, according to Mullis.
‘He goes back to the doctor Tuesday (yesterday),’ Mullis said. ‘He told me he wants to come back if he can help the team. We are going to make sure he is 100 percent before he steps on the field.’
Schroeder has been out of the cast and been involved in jogging and conditioning drills. Mullis said the senior standout could return the second week of sectional play.
Other games
The opposite side of the bracket features a pair of undefeated teams in Heritage Hills (9-0) and Charlestown (9-0).
Heritage Hills, the 2000 Class 3A state champion, will host Salem (7-2) at 8 p.m.
The final game of the sectional pairs winless Brown County (0-9) against surging Charlestown (9-0) at 7 p.m.