DANVILLE — For most of the season, the Schlarman Academy football team’s offense has been the main attraction.
But in their first-round 8-man football playoff game against Christian Life, it was the Hilltoppers’ defense that shined in the end.
With a strong defensive effort on the last drive of the game, the Hilltopeprs would beat the Eagles 22-20 on Friday at Drummy Field.
“It was interesting that it came down to our defense making a stand since we are a offensive team,” Schlarman coach Matt Blurton said. “Our defense came out, did what we asked them to do, and held their ground to end the game.”
“I knew it would be a back and forth game since we were the sixth and seventh seeds. We were evenly matched teams and this was hard-fought to the wire. It was an exciting game to coach.”
The game was the first home playoff game for the Hilltoppers in 31 years and Blurton said the fans came out huge for the team.
“It was good to see the crowd supporting us and have our back,” Blurton said. “It was a good vibe tonight and it was the first win in Drummy Field in I don’t know how many years, but it was great to see the support.”
The defense was the best thing for Schlarman in a game where Christian Life had a game plan to shut down the passing game.
“Their defense did a good job taking away the passing game,” Blurton said. “We had to do some short passes all night and keep it in front of their safeties. We like to throw the ball down the field, but they did a good job shutting that down.”
Even with the Eagles defense bearing down, Schlarman quarterback Marcus Blurton passed for 176 yards and two scores, while Zack Henk caught seven passes for 112 yards and a score. Blurton ran for 49 yards and a score.
In the final drive for Christian Life, they got to the 15-yard line, but the Schlarman defense stepped up and shut down the Eagles in four plays.
“What we got tonight was what I expected, it was a back and forth tight game and when you have tow teams play like that, it is unfortunate to see someone lose,” Blurton said. “I am so proud of how our defense played. They had some kids step up and make some big plays. It is nice to see our defense step up.”
The Hilltoppers will await who they will face next week as River Ridge and North Fulton will play today.
“We find out tomorrow who we play and we might have another road game, but we have been road warriors this year, so we are excited about who we are going to play,” Blurton said.
North Vermillion 28, South Putnam 13
GREENCASTLE, Ind. — The Falcons took an early lead and was able to withstand anything the Eagles put through in winning an IHSAA Class 2A regional semifinal.
“I was expecting an physical team and they were a physical team to play,” North Vermillion coach Brian Crabtree said. “They almost made it a close game at one point.”
That point happened when North Vermillion was up 14-0 and had a play on the 1-yard line called back. It gave South Putnam a chance and they would get on the board.
“That was a key play because we were on our way to be up 21-0 and it got them on the board,” Crabtree said.
But the Falcons would hold on and will now host a rematch against Parke Heritage next week for the sectional title. Parke Heritage beat Attica 44-26.
“They are a great team and coach (Brian) Moore has down a great job with them,” Crabtree said. “The first game had a playoff feel to it and I feel that this game will more than top that.”
Danville 5, Danbury 3
DANVILLE — Down 3-1 at one point, the Dashers would rally to win their home opener.
Fred Hein had a goal and two assists for Danville, while Artem Efimov-Barakov, Justin Brausen, Johan Hoglund and Patrik Zilak each had a goal. Jesse Neher and Nicola Levesque each had two assists, while Kristers Bormanis, Brad Denney, AJ Tesoriero, Phil Bronner and Alex Pommerville each had one assist.
Jesse Gordichuk had 41 saves in goal for the Dashers, who will face the Hat Tricks again today at the David S. Palmer Arena.