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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Undefeated Cougars to face Sparkplugs for regional crown

Thursday, November 9, 2006

North Putnam High School's football team has already accomplished a lot this season.

It ended the regular season undefeated and as the No. 3-ranked team in Class 2A and went 3-0 in the IHSAA sectional tournament to claim its first sectional championship in 16 years.

But the season isn't over yet.

The Cougars (12-0) will play their first regional championship game since 1990 Friday when they travel to face fellow West Central Conference member Speedway.

Despite NPHS's success this season, head football coach Dave Pasch said his squad is still very grounded.

"This team, and especially this group of seniors, has embraced the mentality of, 'We're 0-0 now, let's be 1-0 at the end of the week,'" Pasch said. "We have been a very goal-oriented group, and they understand what mental frame of mind they need to be in each week to prepare and be at their competitive best."

Speedway enters Friday's contest with a 9-3 record after defeating Taylor 33-7 in the Class 2A Sectional 30 championship last week.

The Sparkplugs average 26.8 points per game and give up 18.9.

Speedway's primary weapon is its running game, paced by Calvin Harris, who has rushed for 1,103 yards so far this season.

And although the Cougars defeated Speedway 42-10 on Oct. 6, Coach Pasch said the Sparkplugs will still provide a challenge.

"Speedway is always a very athletic football team," Pasch said. "They are balanced on offense, very fundamental, and defensively always disciplined and aggressive. They will be a much better and more inspired football team than we saw in Week 8."

North Putnam advanced to this week's regional game after defeating Cascade, another WCC foe, 34-33 in last week's sectional final.

In that game, North Putnam quarterback Brayden Dahlstrom led the way in the air and on the ground.

Dahlstrom was 8-of-18 in passing attempts for 101 yards and carried the ball 13 times for 82 yards.

The Cougars claimed their 12th victory this season over the Cadets despite trailing Cascade in nearly every category.

The Cadets held a 21-9 advantage in first downs and outrushed the Cougars 271-141.

"We have to work at getting better each week as a team, and we have to identify what we need to do better as the level of competition increases each week," Pasch said.

Pasch said the atmosphere at North Putnam has been electric this week, as the school braces itself for the big game.

He said he was pleased that the success of the football team has drawn attention to the entire school and the whole community.

"The success that we are having is in more than just football, and that's a great thing," Pasch said. "It carries over into an enthusiasm in the classroom and hallways at school, and it has brought our community together with common interest.

"It's brought attention to all of the good things that happen in our school corporation and the great things that our kids do on a daily basis."

Kickoff for Friday's encounter between North Putnam the Sparkplugs is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Speedway.

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