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FOOTBALL: Stars shifting from idle to postseason gear

McCall Ray scrambles away from Floyd Central's Trevor Clark.

BNL quarterback McCall Ray and the Stars will clash with Floyd Central in Sectional 16 on Friday night.

BNL faces tough rematch

with Floyd Central in first

round of Class 5-A sectional

By Justin Sokeland

TheHHCSports.com

After an idle week, Bedford North Lawrence will look to shift into high gear against a familiar, slow-lane foe as it turns onto the state tournament road.

The Stars (4-5) will face conference rival Floyd Central (6-3) in the semifinal round of Class 5-A Sectional 16 on Friday night. The winner will clash with either defending champion Castle (6-3) or Evansville North (3-6) in the final on Nov. 4.

If those pairings seem common, they should. Those are the exact same first-round battles as last year in the four-team sectional, and BNL won the postseason encounter with the Highlanders last season before bowing to the Knights in the championship.

Jason Cundiff looks for running room. Cundiff scored two touchdowns for the Highlanders in the second half.

Jason Cundiff and the Highlanders ran over BNL 39-23 in the regular-season game on Sept 30.

But this time is different. Last year the Stars swept Floyd, winning the regular-season game at FC before returning there and posting a 17-0 victory in the sectional opener. Now the Highlanders hope to return the favor, heading to BNL for a rematch after smacking the Stars 39-23 on Sept. 30.

BNL needed the week off between the regular-season finale with HHC champion Columbus East and the second round with Floyd Central.

“We’re still trying to recover from the last time we played Floyd,” BNL coach Steve Weber said. “We used it to get the motors revved back up. At this point in the season, the kids are beat up, they’re tired. So it was good to get away from it and get freshened up.”

BNL's Jackson Bartlett powers his way through the line. The Stars totaled 115 yards rushing but gave up 304 on the ground.

BNL’s Jackson Bartlett powers his way through the FC line. The Stars totaled 115 yards rushing but gave up 304 on the ground.

This déjà vu collision raises some interesting questions. Can BNL make enough adjustments to reverse the outcome? The Stars have been busy studying that game film and reacting accordingly, but so have the Highlanders. Can the Stars stop Floyd Central’s mudslide offense, a running game that caves in and smashes through the defensive walls? BNL has known about this rematch since the IHSAA announced the pairings two days after the first encounter, so there’s no excuse for being unprepared.

“We don’t game plan for a certain team,” Weber said. “What we can’t simulate is the speed, the size, the strength. But as far as what they do, we’ve been ready.

Game 1 review: FC 39-23

“We didn’t do a lot of things right offensively (in the first game) and still scored some points. If we can do what we’re supposed to do, we have the ability to move the ball. Defensively, we made some mistakes that we know we can correct. But they’re doing the same thing. We’re in the hunt. We can move the ball, we can stop them. And they’re saying the same things.”

Game 1 featured two distinct sections. The Stars gave up an early touchdown (Matt Weimer’s 28-yard pass to Trevor Clark), then scored 13 straight points and took a 16-13 lead at halftime. But the Highlanders dominated the second half with its ball-control running game as Colt May ignited FC with two breakaway runs and Jason Cundiff scored twice. BNL’s only second-half score was Wyatt Martin’s 95-yard kickoff return.

Game 1 highlights

Floyd pounded out 304 rushing yards, with May totaling 133 (all in the second half) and Zach Spurgeon adding 100. That’s been a BNL weakness all year against quality teams. Since the back-to-back shutouts to start the season, the Stars are allowing 33 points and 197 rushing yards per game. The last seven opponents are averaging over 6 yards per carry. That plays directly to FC’s strength.

Bedford North Lawrence will face a rematch with Floyd Central in the first round of Class 5-A Sectional 16.

BNL is seeking its third straight postseason win over the Highlanders. The Stars won last year’s sectional clash 17-0.

“That’s what we do,” Floyd coach Brian Glesing said. “We have to be able to do that again.

“It’s always tough to beat a team twice, and they beat us in the first half. It’s not like we dominated the whole game, because we did not. You’re dealing with teenagers, and sometimes they think we beat them one time, we’ll beat them again. They haven’t learned some lessons in life yet. You have to make sure their mindset is correct. This is a team that could easily beat us. I think they’re looking forward to playing us, that’s for sure.”

BNL will have to rely on its offense, the triple-option attack that is generating 32.2 points per game. Sophomore quarterback McCall Ray has been the catalyst with 1,238 passing yards and 9 touchdowns, and he’s added 325 rushing yards with 8 TDs. The rest of the ground game has been by a large committee.

Esteban Flores made an impact against the Highlanders with 3 field goals. He’s booted 11 of them this season, giving BNL an extra weapon. He’s also leading BNL in receiving (13 for 310 yards and 4 TDs).

Floyd Central also spreads the carries and yards among a stable of backs. Cundiff is the leader with 544 yards and 9 touchdowns. The Highlanders average 250 rushing yards per game, and FC generates 75 percent of its offense with the running game.

BNL-FC preview on Coaches Corner

CLASS 5-A SECTIONAL 16

Floyd Central (6-3) at Bedford NL (4-5)

Kickoff: 7 p.m.

Last game: The Highlanders decked the Stars 39-23 on Sept. 30 at BNL. Floyd Central totaled 304 rushing yards and erased a 16-13 halftime deficit.

Sagarin ratings: BNL 48.94; Floyd Central 64.29

Game notes: The HHC foes are meeting for the fourth time in the postseason, and BNL owns a 2-1 edge after winning last year’s sectional game 17-0. The winner will face either Castle (6-3) or Evansville North (3-6) in the sectional final. With a victory, BNL would either host Castle or visit Evansville North. FC will host the final if it advances.

BNL STATISTICS

Bedford NL 87 106 55 42 – 290

Opponents 47 85 39 60 – 231

Team statistics

BNL – First downs 101 (52 by run, 38 by pass, 13 by penalty), Rushing 291-1446, Passing 77-141-5-1421, Total yards 2869, Fumbles 21 (lost 14), Penalties 45-392 227-1384

Opponents – First downs 106 (89 by run, 15 by pass, 2 by penalty), Rushing 352-1750, Passing 60-116-7-825, Total yards 2575, Fumbles 18 (lost 11), Penalties 48-415

Individual Statistics

Rushing – Dillon Standifer 2-(-3), Justice Woods 14-30, McCall Ray 65-325 (8 TD), Austin Jovanovich 54-328 (6 TD), Joe Jackson 29-82 (1 TD), Wyatt Martin 13-107, Jamey Deckard 17-111 (1 TD), Drew Hensley 15-94, Jackson Bartlett 16-66 (3 TD), Ethan Stanley 28-130 (1 TD), Owen Beaver 6-28, Nick Rizzi 1-0, Sam Jackson 7-28, Tabin Stillions 17-123 (1 TD), Jace Rhorer 1-8, Skylar Bates 19-88 (2 TD)

Passing – Drew Hensley 1-2-0-24 (1 TD), McCall Ray 72-143-4-1238 (9 TD), Jamey Deckard 2-2-0-35 (2 TD), Justice Woods 2-4-1-14

Receiving – (BNL) Joe Jackson 13-268 (1 TD), Wyatt Martin 3-57, Esteban Flores 13-310 (4 TD), Garrett Ramsey 1-24 (1 TD), Taylor Porter 1-6, Jace Rhorer 2-12, Jamey Deckard 3-67, Hensley 8-177 (2 TD), Drew Shoufler 15-278 (3 TD), Austin Jovanovich 9-67, Jackson Bartlett 1-8, Tabin Stillions 4-78 (1 TD), Skylar Bates 2-11

Special teams points – Wyatt Martin (kickoff return)

Defensive points – Wyatt Martin (fumble recovery), team safety

Field goals – Esteban Flores 11 (34, 26, 30, 24, 38, 28, 41, 23, 22, 23, 19 yards)