TERRE HAUTE —
What a difference a week makes.
Seven days after wondering where to fit the Class 5A high school football championship trophy in the Terre Haute North case, Terre Haute fans are now anticipating a sectional rematch between the Patriots and Terre Haute South after the Braves pulled off a textbook comeback for a 28-24 win Friday night.
Probably safe to say that coach Tim Herrin of the Braves will remember his first win, particularly since his son was unstoppable on South’s last two drives and 26 for 35 for the night.
“That was awesome,” coach Herrin said after the game.
Even as the Braves talked in the aftermath of a 38-20 loss at Evansville North a week earlier — and while the Patriots were in the process of enjoying a 44-0 lead on the way to a 44-14 win over Castle — Herrin was rallying his troops.
One of the main emphases of his postgame speech, in fact, was telling the Braves to steer clear of social media for the week. Letting the Patriots enjoy their win was the subtext of that talk.
The Braves had a specific play in mind for the first play from scrimmage — “It’s a play we run, but out of a different formation. We wanted to take advantage of [North’s] defense being aggressive,” Herrin explained later — and Logan Deady took it 78 yards for a touchdown.
South also answered after North immediately took a 7-6 lead, a Patriot drive set up by a 36-yard kickoff return by linebacker Trey Grim. And in terms of aggressive and physical play, the Braves showed immediately that they were there to be feisty.
“North-South had a lot to do with it,” Herrin said after the game, “but for us it started in the summer. We wanted to bring more intensity, more effort to what we’re doing.”
If the Patriots were put on their heels early, however, they recovered to dominate the second quarter and take a 21-14 halftime lead. Despite several golden opportunities to do so, however, the Patriots failed to add to that lead in the second half until a late field goal, and that was a failure of sorts since North had gotten the ball on South’s 10-yard line.
“Mistake after mistake,” coach Chris Barrett of North said after the game, lamenting missed tackles and quite a few dropped passes. “You can’t win ballgames doing that.”
And the unsung heroes for the Braves? Their defensive linemen, who battled a good North offensive line to a standstill and held the Patriots to nine yards rushing in the second half.
So apparently we don’t know enough yet about either team, and may not until their next Conference Indiana games; Vincennes Lincoln and Northview shouldn’t test either in the last nonconference games this week, although maybe it’s best the players from North and South aren’t aware of that.
But if the Braves can be as enthusiastic against opponents they don’t know as they have been against familiar foes — and they didn’t pass that test at Evansville — they look like a conference contender. If the Patriots ratchet their level of execution back up and rediscover their sense of urgency, they are too. Because here’s what we learned about the league in the second week of the season.
Conference Indiana — Perry Meridian’s 83-78 win over Decatur Central — yes, apparently that’s the correct score — was the eye-opener and Southport’s 47-0 rout of Mooresville was a second impressive win for the Cardinals. Those two play this week in Perry Township’s version of the North-South game, and its winner — and possibly its loser — is a contender.
Franklin Central, which battled Roncalli but lost 30-28, may also be, while Bloomington South suffered a 60-14 loss to Martinsville and Columbus North fell 48-13 to Columbus East. Bloomington North won 47-20 over Bedford North Lawrence, the team Bloomington South had handled easily a week earlier (tough start for coach Steve Weber at BNL).
Western Indiana Conference — West Vigo opens conference play at Brown County in a rivalry that’s been key for the Vikings the past several years.
West Vigo showed promise at Evansville Harrison, having a chance to win on the last play of the game, and lost 35-6 against a Greencastle team that might be better than any WIC foes.
The Vikings’ chances Friday night were stymied by a shaky start, including an ineligible-receiver penalty and a costly sack among their first four plays and also a dropped interception.
“We could get by with that stuff against [Evansville] Harrison, but you can’t get by with it that type of stuff against a good team … I think Greencastle is ranked 12th [in Class 3A],” coach Jeff Cobb said.
“We had some good plays. We played well at times and there were times we just did some dumb things.”
Protecting quarterback Jimmy Maples could be a key for West Vigo.
“Until we shore up our line, I can’t predict anything,” Cobb said. “That’s the bottom line.”
The WIC’s two biggest schools, Northview and Owen Valley, are now atop the standings after the Knights’ two-day, lightning-delayed win over Edgewood and the Patriots’ 33-20 win over Brown County.
Sullivan is still not at full strength and could be 2-0 against tough competition, falling 34-24 to a late Linton comeback on Friday after opening with a win over Vincennes, but South Vermillion’s good start didn’t translate well in the second week, a 54-0 loss to North Vermillion.
Wabash River Conference — In another two-day affair, Rockville won at Covington to become the first WRC team to go 2-0.
North Vermillion, Attica and Fountain Central — a 47-6 winner over Turkey Run — also remain unbeaten in league play. But the happiest conference team this week is probably Riverton Parke, after a 30-12 win over Union snapped a 24-game losing streak.
Southwest Conference — North Central rolled over North Daviess 47-28 behind Dillon Bailey (202 yards rushing, 206 passing) and looks to be the class of the field that no longer includes either the Cougars or Linton. North Knox won its first conference game and is 2-0 as well, but Union, Eastern Greene and Wood Memorial remain winless for the season.
Correspondent Steve Fields contributed to this report.