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Rennirt & Co. take Big Cat

Rennirt & Co. take Big Cat
Rennirt & Co. take Big Cat
Corydon Central's Seth Rennirt out-runs a pair of North Harrison defenders to score the opening touchdown Friday night in the annual Big Cat Classic. Photos by Brian Smith (click for larger version)

Through three quarters, the Corydon Central offense had little trouble finding the end zone. A fake punt, long drives and big plays provided plenty of highlights for the Panthers. Their rivals to the north, however, struggled to find ways to score.
At the end of the Big Cat Classic, Corydon Central strolled off its home field with a 2-0 start to the season and a lopsided 48-16 win over North Harrison.
‘That was our expectation in the preseason,’ Corydon Central coach Darin Ward said of the season’s solid start. ‘With a lot of guys back and our expectations from last year, we don’t mind talking about winning and wanting to do well.’
The Panthers established the running game early, finding scores from Seth Rennirt, along with brothers Lucas and Jeremiah Windell.
North Harrison appeared to have a stop on Corydon Central’s initial drive of the game. Seven plays into the drive, the host Panthers faced a fourth-and-4 at the North Harrison 46. Lined up behind the center to take the punt, Brandon Dunaway kept the ball and scampered to the right for a six-yard pickup. The first down kept Corydon Central’s offense on the field, which later capped the drive with a 27-yard run from Rennirt.
‘We were hoping to do a little bit better, and I thought we came out all right defensively,’ North Harrison coach Jason Mullis said. ‘We slowed them down. Dunaway ran that extra and kept that drive alive. To start it off, we didn’t have big plays, and they started making big plays and our kids weren’t doing their jobs.’
The Cougars picked up a pair of first downs on their opening drive, but it stalled near midfield. The Panthers took over after a Matt Bruderle punt and put together a 67-yard scoring drive. Early in the second quarter, Lucas Windell put Corydon Central up 14-0 when he ran in from 19 yards out.
‘We needed to establish the run, but we were surprised the way they played us. We really thought they would load the box up and play the run,’ Ward said. ‘We were surprised to see them in a 4-3 cover two look. They really didn’t do anything away from that. That opened our running lanes because they had seven guys in the box.’
Corydon Central later added two lengthy touchdown runs to extend the lead. On the next series, a Dunaway 20-yard reception and a North Harrison pass interference penalty set up another score. Rennirt ran in his second touchdown, a 37-yard run.
Later in the second quarter, Jeremiah Windell put together a mini highlight film cut with his 45-yard touchdown run. The junior made multiple cut backs, fending off Cougar defenders to eventually find the end zone to notch a 28-0 lead for Corydon Central.
Improvements on the offensive line helped the Panthers open the running game.
‘We had Nick Lawton step in there at left guard, and he played JV football Monday night,’ Ward said. ‘He is a junior kid we have a lot of confidence in. A lot of those linemen stepped in there and played well. We really wanted to clean up that run through stuff Perry did. We tweaked a couple of blocking schemes.’
North Harrison’s missed an opportunity to score at the close of the first half. Bruderle, North Harrison’s feature back in the wing-t, carried the ball through the left side for a 56-yard pickup. Bruderle was caught at the 3, but it put the Cougars in position to score. Corydon Central’s defense was up to the challenge. Bruderle took it to the 2 on two runs before quarterback Derrick Harter was halted on a sneak attempt. On fourth down, Bruderle bounced his run to the right but was tackled by Panther cornerback Austin Bray short of the end zone.
Bray was a key contributor on defense, leading with eight tackles and forcing a fumble.
The Panthers took over on downs and took a 28-0 lead into the half.
‘We had the ball coming out (second half) and maybe get another one up,’ Mullis said. ‘When you’re down there six feet away from the goal line, you’ve got to be able to pound it in, especially with our offense that we run and a big, old back like we’ve got. We couldn’t do it. We couldn’t move them.’
‘It was big right there at the half,’ Ward said. ‘You know, if they punch that in, get the ball in the second half, they potentially could have gotten some momentum. But it is a pride thing, too. When you are playing well, you don’t want to give anything. You always want to make teams earn stuff. That would have been a good opportunity to put your head down and let them run in. It’s nice to see our guys come out, buckle down there and get a stop and take it to the half.’
North Harrison fumbled the kickoff return of the second half, giving the ball to Corydon Central at the Cougar 31. On the fifth play of the short drive, quarterback Chase Burton hooked up with Tyler Ross for a 10-yard touchdown pass.
On North Harrison’s next two possessions, the Cougars struggled in the punting game. Consecutive bad snaps led to tremendous field position for the Panthers.
Rennirt scored again, his third touchdown, when he ran in from the 18. The score capped a big day for the senior, who ran for 120 yards.
Corydon Central made the lead 48-0 later in the third quarter, when Ross caught his second touchdown pass. The second was a 32-yard play from quarterback Jeffery Durham.
‘In the second half, we wanted to work on throwing the ball,’ Ward said. ‘We feel Ross is a great compliment to Brandon Dunaway when teams really want to focus on Brandon. We have a really athletic 6-2 kid backside that can make plays and go get the ball.’
In the game, Dunaway caught his 100th career pass, the most in Corydon Central history.
North Harrison was able to punch in two scores in the final seven minutes. Mitch Bolin ran in a score from the 1, and Jason Parker had a 3-yard touchdown run.
‘We’ve just got to keep getting better,’ Mullis said. ‘It’s a long season, and I’ve told a lot of people and our boys that our first two games might be our toughest games. It won’t get any easier next week with Salem. Our schedule starts off very strong.’
Bruderle led the Cougar offense with 140 yards rushing.
North Harrison (0-2, 0-1 MSC) will host Salem (0-2, 0-0) for a 7 p.m. start Friday.
Corydon Central (2-0, 1-0) will travel to Brownstown Central (2-0, 1-0) for a Mid-Southern Conference showdown at 7 p.m. Corydon Central won last year’s meeting, 17-10.
‘We knew we would have a tough game last week, then you have a tough rival game with North Harrison where anything can happen,’ Ward said. ‘Now, we have to get together as coaches this weekend, plan, then start Monday to play a tough road game at Brownstown.’
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