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Columbus North got off to a poor defensive start Friday in a 35-14 loss to Bloomington South.
A repeat most likely would be disastrous tonight at undefeated Southport.
The Cardinals, 8-0 overall, 6-0 Conference Indiana, average 495 yards of offense a game, and they are coming off a 70-41 victory against a solid Bloomington North squad.
“Southport has all of our respect,” Columbus North coach Tim Bless said. “They have a balanced offense, and that includes a good rushing attack that they can run out of their spread personnel.
“Oh yeah, this is the typical explosive offense that we have seen a lot of this season.”
Senior running back Christian Perry averages 216 yards per game rushing and has accumulated 1,733 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Sophomore quarterback Luke Johnston has thrown for 1,769 yards with 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Three Cardinals players, Klayton Byrd, Cardell Tucker and Tim Jewell, have caught four or more touchdown passes.
Bless knows that his team must control the time of possession on offense by getting its own running game going.
“We have to play clean football,” Bless said. “We can’t be making it tough on ourselves with turnovers, like we did against Bloomington South. More than anything, we lost that game because we turned over the ball four times.
“We can’t afford to fall behind the chains, and we have to play keep-away.”
Sophomore quarterback Mitchell Kelley has given the Bull Dogs a different look with his quickness and running skills, but he is listed as “questionable” after getting banged up against Bloomington South. Senior Michael Vogel switched from H-back to quarterback in the second half against Bloomington South.
North (3-5, 3-3) hopes to pull a major upset as it heads into its first-round tournament game at Jeffersonville.
Columbus East (8-0 overall, 6-0 Hoosier Hills Conference) will be a heavy favorite at home Friday as it hosts Bedford North Lawrence, which has struggled to a 1-7 overall record and 1-5 in the HHC. Steve Weber, the former Linton head coach who brought a 128-29 record with him, is the Stars’ first-year coach.
“Traditionally, it’s been a physical game,” East coach Bob Gaddis said of the match-up with Bedford North Lawrence. “They used to be a team that ran the ball, but they’ve switched to a spread team. On defense, they give you a 6-2 or 4-4 look.
“It should be a good week for us, preparing for a team that could put eight guys in the box.”
Bedford North Lawrence has had a tough time generating offense. Sophomore quarterback Brayden Tidd has thrown for 880 yards but has just two touchdown passes.
Junior running back Matt Shoufler has gained 470 yards on the ground to lead the team and has 221 yards receiving.
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