Hot teams to collide at Harbison Stadium
In looking across the field at Southmont on Friday, the Greencastle football team might as well be staring in a mirror.
The Mounties (4-5) struggled early, starting the season 1-5. Since then, they've hit their stride, winning three straight on the strength of a running quarterback who can also throw a good ball when he needs to.
This should sound familiar to the Tiger Cubs (5-4), who opened at 1-3 before a big win against county rival South Putnam. Since then, GHS is 3-1, putting up more than 40 points in each of the last three games.
"The win over South Putnam was, I think, very, very important. I think it's just confidence. Some things change and we just got on a role," said GHS coach Mike Meyer.
"Both teams are playing very well at this point in time and to me the difference is going to come down to who makes the fewest mistakes and who is able to capitalize on the other guy's mistake," he added.
Coach Desson Hannum's Mounties are led into battle by quarterback Logan Petry. Like Greencastle's Jordan Hickam, his strength is in the running game, but the threat of the run can open up the Mountie passing attack.
"They have a very capable quarterback in the Petry kid. He makes a big difference," Meyer said. "It's very similar to our situation where Jordan Hickam makes a big difference for us on the offensive side of the ball. They've got some other kids that I think are very good football players."
Besides the second half of the season, Greencastle also has to feel good about the way it closed the regular season last week. The Tiger Cubs controlled the ball for most of the fourth quarter, ultimately punching it in for a 24-14 lead over Owen Valley.
From there, they scored 20 more points in the final three minutes off of Patriot mistakes.
"To me the difference was our ability on that last drive to run the football the way we did and move the football. We went 80-some yards in about eight minutes and ate up a lot of clock. We controlled the game when it mattered," Meyer said.
The end of the game highlights what have been the Cubs' two main strengths in this hot streak: their ability to control the ball while making the most of what's given to them.
"We've also been able to capitalize on other people's mistakes, which has been key for us," Meyer said. "We haven't turned the ball over and we've been able to capitalize on other people's turnovers."
Looking at his team and what it's become, Meyer sees a group that has improved in every facet of the game and is now performing in all those areas.
"If you look at it, on special teams I have a great kicker, a great punter and we've been doing a lot of good things on special teams. Our defense has gotten better and better as they year has progressed. Offensively, we're controlling the ball, we're moving the ball. I see Jordan as a quarterback getting more and more confidence each week. That's enabling us to, each week, open up the offense a little more," Meyer said.
And now it's about doing it again this week. The only hitch is that Southmont has also hit its stride at the right moment.
"There's going to be no way for anybody to overlook the other side," Meyer said. "I think it's going to be a heck of a ballgame and hopefully we get a good turnout.
"I feel very good about our week of preparation, and I feel very good about the way we've been playing," he added. "I think Coach Hannum is going to be feeling the same way."
The Tiger Cubs host the Mounties at 7 p.m. Friday.