North gets stiff test, East expected to roll

With the Columbus North football team on its biggest roll since 2007, it would seem that the Bull Dogs could get caught up in looking ahead to its Oct. 9 showdown against unbeaten Bloomington South.

That, of course, would be a mistake.

Coach Tim Bless said his players won’t have any trouble focusing on the task when they host Perry Meridian (4-2 overall, 3-1 Conference Indiana) tonight at 7.

“We’ve already talked about how Perry Meridian is a team that embarrassed us a year ago,” Bless said.

The Falcons hammered the Bull Dogs 34-14 in 2014 and that will be a topic of conversation all week. North also can hand Perry Meridian its second conference loss, further separating itself from the rest of the conference pack.

Also keeping North on edge is the fact that starting quarterback Triston Perry will miss tonight’s game with an ankle injury sustained Sept. 25 at Terre Haute North. Junior Tanner Payne, who completed 11 of 19 passes for 126 yards in relief last week, will get the start. Sophomore Jaylen Flemmons has a wealth of talent and will be ready if needed.

“We are blessed with outstanding depth at that position,” Bless said. “Tanner was rock solid against Terre Haute North and he managed the game well.”

Bless, whose team is 5-1 overall and 4-0 in the conference, said he has confidence his team will continue to be focused. “I am very proud of what we did last Friday. That’s a tough road trip.

“Now it is on to the next challenge and that is a team that is 3-1 in our conference. This is a big, physical team that tries to recreate the line of scrimmage. They use a power running game and they will eat up a lot of clock playing keep-away.”

While North figures to have a tough challenge, Columbus East (6-0, 4-0 Hoosier Hills Conference) travels to face winless Madison.

The Cubs’ 0-6, 0-4 in HHC record is a bit deceiving. They lost their first three games of the season by a combined nine points before falling in the last three to some of the conference’s better teams.

“They’ve fallen on some hard times,” Columbus East coach Bob Gaddis said. “Their best running back got hurt, and they have dealt with some other injuries.

“But I think they are very solid in what they are doing and I think their coach (Patric Morrison) has them headed in a good direction. He is doing a good job because he is not throwing everything they do out the window.”

The plight of senior quarterback K.J. McCarter has taken another turn as he will completely rest his injured hamstring the next two weeks to see if it responds. McCarter hasn’t played a game this season due to the injury, which hasn’t responded to treatment. He will shut it down completely in the hope of making it back for the tournament.

Meanwhile, sophomore quarterback Josh Major has been terrific, completing 79 percent of his passes for 12 touchdowns and only one interception.

“Josh has made some tremendous decisions,” Gaddis said.