North Harrison’s return to Scottsburg full of returns
The Cougars’ blue-and-white buses headed northeast Friday for a stop on the football season slate to renew a meeting with Mid-Southern Conference-foe Scottsburg.
It was the first meeting since 1983 between the ball clubs ‘ a 18-13 North Harrison win ‘ and the last trip to the Warriors’ gridiron came the year prior, which ended in a 38-0 shutout in favor of the Cougars.
Returns fit the Cougars on a sunny and rather perfect night for week two of the high school football season. In front of a packed stands just beyond both sidelines, the bulk of North Harrison’s scoring came via returns.
Avery Blocker and Skyler Wetzel picked off two Scottsburg pass attempts and returned each for a score. In the kick-off return game, speedy Jake Harley opened the second half with an 83-yard sprint to the end zone for a TD.
The scores from the special teams and defense, combined with a three-touchdown, 187-yard rushing day via running back Jaylen Peake, led to North Harrison cruising to a 47-7 victory.
‘They were a handful for us in the first quarter,’ North Harrison coach Mark Williamson said of Scottsburg. ‘Things started to go our way and get things going. It was another one of those cases where the game was tighter than the score. It didn’t seem like a 47-7 game.’
Big gains by Kohana Wilks and Peake set up North Harrison’s first score, a 6-yard rush up the middle from Peake.
Scottsburg failed to pick up a first down on its first two possessions but found momentum when North Harrison turned the ball over. Harley coughed up the ball, allowing Scottsburg to come out of the scrum with the pigskin at the Cougars’ 42-yard line.
Quarterback Trent Potter, one of three to play the position for Scottsburg, came up with a three-play drive to put the Warriors on top. A Potter rush of 11 yards and a 13-yard pass play to Christian Smiley set up a 18-yard TD strike to Hunter Myers. The extra point gave Scottsburg a 7-6 edge.
From there, North Harrison piled on 41 unanswered points.
Immediately following the Scottsburg drive, North Harrison put together one of its trademark pounding drives. Rushes by Avery Blocker and Peake saw the Cougars eat up 62 yards in 11 plays. Peake went in from the 1, prompting a 12-7 score.
Before Blocker attempted to throw a pass, the North Harrison signal caller picked off a Scottsburg throw on the defensive end. With Potter pressured by North Harrison’s Brett Rudolph, the QB sent the ball in the air while falling to the ground. Finding the hands of Blocker, the linebacker hurried up the left sideline, cutting back to the end zone for a 26-yard interception return.
Scottsburg had a decent drive going midway through the second quarter only to have Wilks break up the momentum. A quarterback sack by Wilks forced a fourth-and-7 at the 27, setting up the linebacker to force an off-balance throw by Potter broken up by Blocker.
Under center, Blocker took his first snap after the failed Scottsburg series over center Colton Sieberns and up the gut for a 52-yard gain. A swing pass to Harley for eight yards set up Peake notching another TD, this time from the 1-yard line.
‘Up front we blocked pretty well,’ Williamson said. ‘I think we have a pretty good football team. How good we are, I don’t know. I think we’ve beaten two teams in our conference that I’m sure are going to win some games, Scottsburg and Salem. We’ve beaten some decent teams.’
Peake’s score put North Harrison up 26-7 at the half. For the game, Peake carried the ball 31 times for 187 yards. On the ground, Wilks gained 87 on 11 touches, while Blocker picked up 73 on seven keeps.
From the pocket, Blocker completed 2 of 3 passes for 24 yards. Rudolph and Harley had the catches.
‘Our passing game, we want to throw the ball, but we got locked into the game where our main thing is winning,’ Williamson said. ‘We found some things that worked in the run game today, so we ran it. We will run it until they adjust and stop it.’
If North Harrison’s fans didn’t return to their seats in time for the second-half kick-off, they missed the longest score of the night. Harley took the kick-off the distance of 83 yards for a score, putting the game seemingly out of reach, 33-7.
‘We have athletes,’ Williamson said. ‘This team has a mixture of a lot of things. We have a little bit of size, a lot of experience and we have some athletes that are three-sport guys, which are things we’ve never had. It makes for a pretty good football team, normally.’
Drew Kuerzi, who two plays prior dropped an interception try, took advantage of another chance, picking off Scottsburg’s Bradley Whitler in the third quarter. The turnover led to Wilks bouncing off guys, breaking tackles and heading in for a 20-yard touchdown.
North Harrison added one more defensive score late in the game when Wetzel returned an interception 35 yards with 3:10 to play.
Much of Scottsburg’s offense came from Potter, who rushed for 62 yards and passed for 36. Whitler completed 4 of 14 passes for 45 yards.
One area of improvement from the first week Williamson noted was special teams. Not only the kick-off return for a touchdown, but the kick-off duties of Ben Waynescott.
‘Our kick-offs were much better,’ the coach said. ‘We were kicking the ball to the end zone. Our special teams had some positives. Defensively, we are getting a little better. Offensively, we still have a long way to go.’
Waynescott, after missing the first point after the touchdown, nailed his final five attempts. He took a shot at a 43-yard field goal in the second half but came up short.
The win moved North Harrison to 2-0 in the MSC and overall. Up next, the Cougars return home to face rival Corydon Central in the Big Cat Classic.
‘It’s only two wins, and we haven’t won any championships,’ Williamson said. ‘We will be back to work at it on Monday. It’ll be a big game.’
North Harrison 12 14 14 7 ‘ 47
Scottsburg 7 0 0 0 ‘ 7
NH ‘ Jaylen Peake 6 run (kick failed); S ‘ Hunter Myers 18 pass from Trent Potter (Casey Smith kick); NH ‘ Peake 1 run (run failed); NH ‘ Avery Blocker 26 INT return (Ben Waynescott kick); NH ‘ Peake 1 run (Waynescott kick); NH ‘ Jake Harley 83 kickoff return (Waynescott kick); NH ‘ Kohana Wilks 20 run (Waynescott kick); NH ‘ Skyler Wetzel 35 INT return (Waynescott kick).