It should be noted that five of Columbus North tailback Mitchell Burton’s carries in his team’s 54-7 win last Friday amounted to little to no yardage.
Oh, but those other carries.
Burton finished with 11 carries for 219 yards, which gives you an idea about his explosiveness. Twice, Burton and quarterback Triston Perry ran into each other in the backfield, not unusual for the first game of the season.
But if North shakes off those miscommunications and runs everything efficiently, the sky is the limit.
East has a mirror tailback in Steven O’Neal, who can look ordinary on one play and then burn the defense for a 50-yard run the next.
When the two cross-town rivals meet tonight at Columbus East High School, it will be like lighting a stick of dynamite and not knowing the length of the fuse. Sooner or later, though, it’s going to explode.
Both teams have the kind of defenses that aren’t likely to allow those 10-play, grinding drives. So tonight’s game could be decided by the squad that manages to get the ball to one of its home-run hitters in what North coach Tim Bless calls “the green grass.”
Give O’Neal or Burton, or North wide receiver Alex Algee or East wide out Cameron Wilson, the ball with a step on the defense and it’s over. Touchdown.
That’s a lot of pressure on the defense, and it should keep an expected crowd of more than 5,000 fans on the edge of their seats.
It’s the kind of drama that makes the game almost impossible to pick. The game could be decided by one defensive back biting on play action, or one potential tackler stumbling a bit, or one blown assignment.
It’s playoff pressure in the second game of the season.
East leads the series 23-21 and has won three in a row, the previous two in dominating fashion. This game, however, promises to be a classic in the series.
Here are this week’s picks:
Columbus North 21, Columbus East 20: I would pick this game as a draw, but I would probably take more flak for that one than raising the ire of either school by picking against it. It should be a highly entertaining, great game. Although we have talked a lot about the big-play offensive players from each team, it could be a defensive struggle.
Jennings County 30, Greensburg 21: A year ago, the Panthers crushed Greensburg, which got off to a better start this season with a win against Shelbyville. Jennings County gets the nod at home.
South Putnam 35, Brown County 31: Ethan Schreiber has his Eagles back in the flow on offense after they couldn’t move the ball at all in a winless 2014 season. However, this will be a tough road task against a solid South Putnam squad.
Eastern Hancock 42, South Decatur 14: Eastern Hancock simply plays at a higher level than the Cougars, who will go through a coaching transition in 2015 as they rebuild.
North Decatur 14, Edinburgh 12: North Decatur got a taste of victory a week ago with an overtime win against South Decatur. The Lancers were smashed by Brown County.
Jeffersonville 34, Seymour 21: The Owls lost a heartbreaker to Silver Creek in their opener and, in doing so, looked like they have made positive strides as a program. Jeffersonville, meanwhile, already is established.