BY CHAD DARE firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — FARMERSBURG, Ind. — Blocking and tackling have always been the two biggest keys in football.
So, it should come as no surprise that those two facets of the game will again be pivotal during Friday’s IHSAA Class A Sectional 47 semifinal contest between the Fountain Central Mustangs and the North Central Thunderbirds.
The sixth-rated Mustangs will be going with its multi-dimensional offense; while the 10th-rated Thunderbirds are expected to counter with a run game that is averaging 385.7 yards per game on the ground.
“We’re going to have our hands full with their run game,’’ Fountain Central coach Brian Moore said. “They’ve got a really good running back and their quarterback also runs it really well.
“We’re going to have to tackle well. If we don’t do a good job of getting those guys to the ground, it could be a long night for us.’’
Moore admitted that at times this season, his team has had a few problems tackling.
“In this age of football, the offenses are finding new and different ways to move the ball,’’ he said. “Just look at the scores, both teams are coming into this game averaging more than 50 points a game.
“It’s not a lot of fun trying to find a way to stop these offenses.’’
And finding a way to stop North Central senior running back Chase VanSchoyck, who has rushed for 2,229 yards this season and 33 touchdowns, has been the focused this week for Fountain Central.
“We’ve had a really good week of practice,’’ Moore said. “Our kids have done a nice job of getting ready for this contest against a very good North Central team.
“At this point of the year, you have seen close to every offense and defense there is, and we might need to adjust during the game.’’
Moore acknowledges that there isn’t really anything new his team has to learn at this stage of the season and his team’s practices have gotten shorter in recent weeks.
“We believe in keeping our kids fresh, both mentally and physically,’’ said Moore, who has been a part of five teams to reach the state championship game. “I’m very pleased with where we are at heading into the game.’’
While North Central, which averages 52.0 points per game, relies on a ground and pound attack on offense, Fountain Central employs both a ground game and a passing game to average 54.8 points per contest.
The Mustangs are averaging just over 250 yards per game on the ground with Daniel Harrison and Jared Fishero combining for more than 1,200 yards and 25 touchdowns this season in run attack, while quarterback Koby Pierce has thrown for more than 1,700 yards and 28 touchdowns this season. The leading receiver for Fountain Central is Trevor Loveall with 832 receiving yards on 34 catches, including 12 touchdowns.
“I’ve been really pleased with our running backs, both Daniel and Jared, and Koby has had a really good year throwing the ball,’’ Moore said. “But, the biggest thing for us has been our receivers. Trevor is leading the way, but we’ve also got Ethan Woodrow and Jaren Oakley contributing. I think having that passing attack has made us a better offensive team this year.’’
And Moore admits it has changed him a little as a coach.
“I used to be a run-oriented coach,’’ he said. “We’ve thrown it a lot more than I ever thought a team that I coached would throw it. We run or throw the ball now because we want to do that. It’s been a completely different game this season.’’
But one thing that has remained consistent is that Moore says everything starts with his guys up front.
“Those guys have really done a great job for us,’’ he said. “They are probably better run blockers, but they have really adapted to pass protection.’’
Friday’s game in Farmersburg, Ind., is set for a 7:30 p.m. (Eastern) kickoff and the game can be heard locally on WKZS-FM 103.1.
The winner will advance to next week’s Sectional championship game against the winner of Friday’s semifinal contest between the Attica Red Ramblers and the North Vermillion Falcons.
IHSAA Class A Sectional 47 Fountain Central Mustangs vs. North Central Thunderbirds When -- 7:30 p.m. (Eastern) Friday Where -- Farmersburg, Ind. Records -- Fountain Central 9-1 overall; North Central 8-2 overall. Rankings -- Fountain Central was No. 6 in the final Associated Press Class A Poll, while North Central was No. 10. On the air -- WKZS-FM 103.1 Last meeting -- Fountain Central 57, North Central 21 on Oct. 22, 2010. Last week's results -- Fountain Central defeated Riverton Parke 68-12; North Central beat Turkey Run 46-0. Next week's games -- Winner advances to Sectional 47 championship game against the winner of the Attica-North Vermillion game. Statistical leaders Rushing -- Fountain Central: Daniel Harrison 78 carries, 614 yards, 12 touchdowns; Jared Fishero 69-669, 13 TDs. North Central: Chase VanSchoyck 172 carries, 2,229 yards, 33 touchdowns; Dillon Bailey 140-1,025, 19 TDs. Passing -- Fountain Central: Koby Pierce 74 completions, 127 attempts, 5 interceptions, 1,721 yards, 28 touchdowns. North Central: 30 completions, 57 attempts, 2 interceptions, 693 yards, 10 touchdowns. Receiving -- Fountain Central: Trevor Loveall 34 receptions, 832 yards, 12 touchdowns; Ethan Woodrow 20-387, 10 TDs; Jaren Oakley 10-276, 2 TDs. North Central: VanSchoyck 14 receptions, 455 yards, 7 touchdowns; Nick Stucker 5-119, 1 TD.