In a high school football jamboree in which all four teams had their moments Friday night, it was host Terre Haute South who proved the most spirited.
For better or worse.
After three entertaining and reasonably normal periods, the final session pitted the Braves against Terre Haute North — and what do you know, a North-South game broke out.
With sophomore quarterback Brady Wilson running the show, the Braves had the ball first and moved consistently down the field, only to be stopped on their first two possessions by interceptions by North’s Aden Carter and Jonathan Millington, the latter one run back for a touchdown.
But Wilson found Josh Cottee for a screen pass that went for 60 yards and a touchdown — and was followed by a celebration penalty — and Desean Lowe got ridiculously open on the last play of South’s possession for a 30-yard score.
North overcame a third-and-29 situation when Indiana State recruit Jaden Wayt outwrestled a South defender for a 40-yard gain.
But despite some help from a South defensive penalty the Patriots couldn’t score. Another South penalty and a lot of trash talk helped the Patriots threaten again, but again they were kept off the scoreboard.
Coach Tim Herrin lectured the Braves extensively about keeping their cool after the scrimmage ended. But if the enthusiasm can be tempered, the Braves looked much improved over last year’s 1-9 team.
“Overall I liked our effort,” Herrin said. “We’ve got to shore up our execution, but we competed in both quarters and a lot of guys stepped up and showed they will contribute.”
Wilson passed for 165 yards, by far the best of the four teams, and a revamped receiving corps proved to be as good as advertised.
“We tried to force a couple of balls,” Herrin said, “but we showed what we can do.”
“I was real happy with what we did,” said North coach Billy Blundell. “The guys kept their composure with some of the chaos going on, and the defense did a really good job, with a couple of picks.”
By design, the Patriots were pretty vanilla offensively.
“Some of the seniors were frustrated with me,” Blundell admitted, “but we did not let loose any of our big plays. We have bigger fish to fry . . . and [those seniors] are ready to get after it.”
The first quarter pitted the Braves against Northview, South scoring once on a 25-yard run by Wilson and the Knights getting a touchdown on a 42-yard run by Imer Holman.
North held South Vermillion scoreless in the second period, but the Wildcats yielded just one score themselves, a 7-yard run by Donovan Wright.
South Vermillion got a touchdown against Northview, a 24-yard pass from Dom Garzolini — yes, there’s another one — to Ryan Straw, but the Knights scored twice on a 20-yard pass from Kyle Cottee to Clayton Yates and a 12-yard run by Holman. Kyle Cottee — who transferred from South — and Holman combined for 168 yards rushing (85 and 83) and were the top two in that category.
“Overall I thought it was a good night,” coach Mark Raetz of the Knights said. “We got out healthy, and our kids got to experience a Friday night, game-like atmosphere. I saw a lot of good things on both sides of the ball, and also a lot of stuff we need to fix.”
“I thought we did some good things, with some guys in positions who have not played in those spots,” said coach Greg Barrett of South Vermillion.
“Overall, pleased tonight and will know more in the morning on film,” Barrett joked. “I liked our hustle and the way guys were moving around tonight.”
Three of the four teams begin their regular seasons at home next Friday. North will be at Northview in what should be a highlight game, while South hosts Class 3A power Gibson Southern and South Vermillion hosts West Vigo. Kickoffs at Northview and South Vermillion will be at 7 p.m., while the South game starts at 7:30.