It’s time to start asking the question: Should Charlestown be ranked No. 1 in Class 3A?
Obviously, if you’ve seen the Pirates, your answer is yes. If all you’ve seen is their results, you should come to the same conclusion.
After beating Class 3A No. 10 Corydon Central 47-0 last Friday, Charlestown has now beaten two ranked opponents by a combined score of 88-3.
The Charlestown offense is leading the state with 58.9 points per game — five points more than anyone else in Indiana. The Pirates’ 50.9 average margin of victory is simply ridiculous, especially considering they’ve played a pair of ranked teams.
Even their defense, despite junior varsity players invading the field for the majority of most second halves this season, is ninth in the state, surrendering eight points per contest and is coming off of consecutive shutouts.
Another question has to be asked: What are the pollsters thinking? Jimtown, Schmimtown.
“I don’t know [if we should be No. 1],” Charlestown coach Jason Hawkins said. “It’s going to be hard to knock Jimtown off [of the top spot]. They’re so good and they have so much tradition.”
Before the season, Hawkins wasn’t willing to call his team a state championship contender. After seven blowout wins, he’ll admit the obvious — with some hesitation.
“I think we’re a contender,” he said. “If we keep playing well. I don’t want to put too much pressure on my kids, though. We have to win a sectional first. We have a [Mid-Southern] conference championship. Now, it’s time to start looking at the sectional. Once we have a sectional under our belts, then we can start talking about stuff like that.”
The Pirates have dealt fine with pressure all season. They were the preseason MSC favorites, but that hasn’t kept them from outscoring six league opponents, 345-42.
“They’ve come out ready to go every week,” Hawkins said of his team.
And he’s admittedly stunned by Friday’s 47-0 win over Corydon. The Pirates’ sixth-year coach expected to win the game. He didn’t expect another blowout.
“I can’t believe we beat them as bad as we did,” he said. “Wow, 47-0! That was the best I’ve seen any team ready to play that I’ve coached. We were in a groove. To do that in a big game like that, that’s awesome.”
Quarterback Aaron Daniel led the way again for the Pirates, going for 257 yards and four touchdowns on the ground and another 82 yards through the air. In the first half, Daniel rushed for 199 yards and completed all seven of his passes. He also intercepted a Chase Burton pass that ended Corydon’s best drive of the night.
Senior running back Seth McCutchen added 174 yards and a pair of scores on 25 carries.
“Aaron is definitely one of the best players in the state and should be considered for the [Mr. Football] award,” Hawkins assessed. “It helps having Seth next to him. Even if Aaron’s not the best player in the state, I’ll definitely put Aaron and Seth up against any 1-2 combo in the state.”
While the Charlestown offense has gotten most of the press, the defense has been equally stellar. Corydon entered Friday’s contest averaging 46.2 points. The Panthers hadn’t been held below 24 all season.
Charlestown sacked Burton five times and pressured him throughout the night. In the end, Corydon managed just 173 total yards and Burton — an All-State candidate — completed just 16-of-34 passes.
“They did great,” Hawkins said of the defense. “We put heat on [Burton] all night. We got on them all week about getting pressure on him. [Defensive linemen] Jimmy Garcia, Desmond Wiley and Adam Hoff had a heck of a game. [Linebackers] Matt Myers and Jake Harper and Darren Taylor, they just played great.”
The biggest question the Pirates had coming into the season was their defensive backfield. However, cornerbacks Gage Brafford and Cody Donahue and safeties Daniel and Zach Green helped contain the Panthers’ high-powered attack.
“They played excellent,” Hawkins said. “They were so good. Our defense is just so fast.”
With Jeffersonville quarterback Tyler Fridley going more than 2,000 yards passing — the first signal-caller in the state to do so this season — the emergence of junior running back Austin Hines in the past couple of weeks has given Red Devils coach Lonnie Oldham a lot of options.
Hines rushed for 121 yards and caught three passes for 32 and scored five times in Friday’s 49-12 win over rival New Albany.
“For Hines to do what he did [Friday], he’s just a special back,” Oldham said.
The common thread, the second-year Jeff head coach said, is an offensive line that is protecting Fridley and opening holes for Hines.
“I felt like up front all year we’ve been bullying people,” Oldham said. “It was nice to see the linemen do what they did against New Albany. We were running for 9, 10 yards at a time and that was nice to see. I was pretty impressed with that.”
Fridley had an unusually-poor performance in the win. He completed just 14-of-36 passes for 291 yards. Ninety-nine of those came on a tipped pass that Jacquari Chandler took for a school-record touchdown.
After the game, Fridley revealed to Oldham that he has been dealing with the flu. The senior didn’t tell his coach earlier for fear of missing the rivalry game.
“I have to attribute some of his performance to that,” said Oldham, who pulled Fridley for a play because he was uncommonly “gassed.”
“I was wondering what was wrong,” Oldham continued. “He would never make excuses.”
Along with Hines and the offensive line, the Jeff defense made up for any Fridley deficiency due to illness. The Bulldogs managed just 129 total yards, including 30 yards on 20 passing attempts.
“We started a couple of weeks ago focusing on flying to the football in practice and that has really helped in team pursuit,” Oldham said. “I think we’re swarming to the ball pretty well.”
The one disappointment from Friday was the special teams, Oldham said, including a blocked punt for New Albany’s touchdown.
“I was real disappointed in that because we work so hard on that,” he said. “We start every day with kicking drills. We just weren’t very good at that. That was the only negative the whole game.”
FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME
Silver Creek coach Mike Donahue said Friday’s 35-15 win over North Harrison was just as special as the Dragons’ 44-18 win over Eastern on Sept. 8 that ended a drought of 70 years without a varsity win for the Silver Creek football program.
The victory was the first for the Dragons at home since reconstituting the program in 2010.
“To have it done on our home field, you’d think it was our first victory — with our kids running around and all of the enthusiasm,” Donahue said. “It was pretty monumental.”
Most monumental in the victory was senior Layne Taylor. Taylor rushed for 138 yards and three touchdowns and returned an interception 107 yards for another score.
“Layne just amazes me every single game,” Donahue said. “He plays with heart all the time. A lot of his [touchdown] runs were because he wouldn’t go down — he just keeps fighting.”
Taylor even proved he knows better than his coach. When he intercepted Cougar quarterback Jack Phelps’ pass deep in the end zone, Donahue thought it was a poor decision to bring the ball out.
“As he went down the field, I could see it open,” Donahue said. “It was pretty impressive.”
The oft-criticized, oft-scorched Silver Creek defense did its part, as well. The Dragon D shut out the Cougars in the first half and allowed just one score until Phelps’ 1-yard touchdown run with 41 seconds left.
“They did a tremendous job,” Donahue said. “They keep fighting through. I thought they really came through.”
A FEW PLAYS AWAY
Clarksville’s 3-4 record through seven weeks doesn’t tell the story of how well the Generals have played. The four teams that have beaten Clarksville are a combined 23-5 and the Generals battled two of them — 6-1 Corydon and 6-1 Brownstown Central — blow for blow for much of those games.
In Friday’s 31-12 loss to Class 3A No. 13 Brownstown, the Generals led 6-0 early and trailed just 14-6 at the half. The Braves were able to put the game away until late in the third quarter.
“If we play a little better, we could have beaten Brownstown,” Clarksville coach Steve Cooley said. “We had some opportunities. We had a couple of chances to score and we didn’t.”
Eight dropped passes contributed to the loss.
“We have some young kids who need to make plays — and they will,” Cooley said. “They made some nice plays. They just didn’t make enough of them.”
Despite the 3-4 mark, Cooley said he’s excited about his team’s opportunity heading into the last two weeks of the regular season and into the Class 2A tournament.
“We’re excited,” he said. “We finished [Friday’s] game and played hard for three quarters. We’ve been on cruise control in the second half the last couple of weeks. We’re getting better every week.”
WEEK 7 AWARDS
• Player of the Week: Layne Taylor, Silver Creek. The Dragons’ running back ran for 138 yards and three scores, but perhaps his biggest play came on defense. Creek led 13-0 late in the first half when Taylor picked off North Harrison quarterback Jack Phelps and took it 107 yards for a score that gave the Dragons a resounding 20-0 halftime lead en route to a 35-15 home victory over North Harrison.
• Team of the Week: Charlestown. The Pirates didn’t just beat then-Class 3A No. 4 Corydon Central last Friday — they did everything they wanted to them in a 47-0 victory. The offense rolled and the defense was stifling. It was the biggest and most impressive win in Southern Indiana this season.
• Play of the Week: Jeffersonville’s Jacquari Chandler goes 99 yards. With Jeff leading New Albany 7-0 at the midway point of the opening quarter, Red Devil quarterback Tyler Fridley threw a pass intended for teammate Ricky Embry that was tipped in the air. Chandler, who caught six passes for 155 yards for the game, hauled it in and took it 99 yards for a score and a 14-0 lead. The Red Devils beat the Bulldogs for the second straight year, 49-12.
• Coach of the Week: Jason Hawkins, Charlestown. The Indianapolis Colts’ statewide Coach of the Week also is ours. It was quite a statement made by his team this week.
Pirates have beaten both of their ranked foes by a combined 88-3
It’s time to start asking the question: Should Charlestown be ranked No. 1 in Class 3A?
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