TERRE HAUTE —
Not much rattles this Terre Haute North football team.
After all, many of this year’s sectional champions helped the Patriots to an impressive 4-3 record in the rigorous Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference a
That calm confidence was evident during Friday's 42-7 sectional victory against an Evansville North team desperate to prove it could hang.
Through a 9-2 campaign this season, the players have developed a trust in the coaching staff and in one another that they can find a way to get the results they need to prevail.
After losing an overtime game and blowing a two-touchdown lead to Terre Haute South at home, the Patriots have made sure they haven’t lost.
“A few early losses kind of set the ship straight,” said quarterback Chris Barrett II, who was enjoying a satisfying moment after helping his father, Chris Barrett, win his first sectional title as a coach. “I’ve grown up watching my dad coach and hearing people say ‘Oh, you guys will never win, you’ll never pull off this championship.’ We’ve been close. We’ve worked hard.”
It was also a moment that should have been enjoyed by all those players who helped the program get to this point.
“We had a lot of great seniors last year that paved the way for us. We just tried to keep it going,” Ricky Brookins said. “We got a great team, and the community was behind us. I’m just glad we were finally able to do it for everybody.”
Terre Haute North pulled away from a team the way it was supposed to, but the Huskies made it interesting early.
The Patriots’ high-powered running game — averaging 277 yards per game — was slowed down Friday in a sectional championship win against Evansville North, managing just 80 yards by halftime.
Evansville North sold out to stop the run with nine players near the line of scrimmage.
“They were doing some things that we weren’t really used to so throughout the course of the game, we were recognizing them and adapting to it,” said Brookins, who surpassed 2,000 yards from scrimmage during the game.
The Patriots found success by going to a spread formation as Barrett II connected on a couple of 20-yard completions to lead a two-minute scoring drive before halftime.
“He was just dropping back and being under control. He took the lead of the team, that’s what he’s supposed to do,” Brookins said of his teammate.
Brookins and the Class 5A No. 2-ranked Patriots have their sights on a state championship, but they’re talking only about the next game.
“It feels great,” senior receiver Nate Carson said after the sectional title win. “It’s unreal. We’ve got a 24-hour rule [to enjoy the win] and on to regional.”
They’ll play host to Bloomington North for a regional title Friday, the chance to earn a shot against No. 3 Whiteland or No. 5 Cathedral in the semistate.
Coach Barrett was proud to see his program come through for a sectional title, just the second in the history of the program.
“They’ve stayed the course and continued to work hard all throughout those first three years in the MIC,” Barrett said. “They were never deterred, their love the game never wavered no matter who we were playing.”
While the offense has averaged close to 40 points a game, the North defense has come through at big times throughout the season. They nearly shut out Evansville North, allowing the lone touchdown in the final two minutes with the second unit in the game.
“We had a great defensive game,” Barrett said.
Wyatt Stoelting sparked the defense with a first-quarter sack that stalled out an Evansville North drive that would have put the Huskies ahead.
“I love them. The past two years they’ve helped us out so much,” Barrett II said. “I’m glad I don’t have to play against them.”
Terre Haute North topped Bloomington North at Bloomington by a score of 44-23 behind a huge night by Brookins. The Cougars are surely an improved football team now.
“We expect a lot honestly. They’ve gotten a lot better but so have we,” Brookins said. “We’ll have to do the film study, and hopefully we can go out there and beat them.”
Added Barrett, “That game previously does not matter. They are a very good football team.”