The Eagles had every aspect of their game working on Friday. They pounded the ball on offense, performed well on special teams and were punishing on defense. It all added up to a win for SPHS.
"Cascade is much, much improved. Josh (Hagenow) has done a great job with them; they've just gotten better every week," Eagles head coach Troy Burgess said. "We knew we had to get out of the gate early this week. We didn't do that last week, got ourselves in a hole and got in trouble, so that was the emphasis. Let's get out of the gate here and go back to the roots a little bit.
"Let's get the big guys up front started, let's try to get Drew (Cash) started early on and then if we needed to do some other things we could. I thought our kids did a good job coming out early," he added.
South Putnam definitely jumped out early and the result was two first quarter touchdowns.
On the opening possession of the game, the Eagles marched 53 yards, ending with a one-yard touchdown run from Cash at 8:58. South Putnam got the ball back after a fumble, but was forced to punt after two sacks pushed them back.
Sophomore Rob Gibson timed his approached just right on the punt and jolted Cascade's returner, forcing the Cadets' second fumble to start the game. Four plays later, Michael Nichols smashed the ball in for a one-yard touchdown with 5:18 left in the quarter.
Cascade respond at the 5:58 mark of the second quarter when Jordan Younge slashed up the middle for a 38-yard run, providing the Cadets with their only score of the evening.
South once again found the end zone when quarterback Grant Zimmerman darted for a two-yard touchdown just before the break.
South Putnam was able to utilize their punishing defense to put up their final score of the night in the third quarter.
After a failed field goal by South, Cascade's quarterback Colin Smith took the snap and tried to roll to the outside. The Eagles' line penetrated and drilled Smith, popping the ball loose. Gibson scooped up the ball and trotted into the end zone with 5:57 remaining, moving the score to its final tally of 28-6.
Following the contest, Burgess acknowledged it was a complete team effort that won the game on Friday.
"It was across the board," he said. "The defense played great and scored, our special teams played real well and the offense, I think we got a little stale in the second half. Probably got a little conservative there in the second half, but again the goal this week was to get the big guys up front going again.
"I thought our guys up front did a great job. The big boys did a good job and Drew and Mike Nichols in the backfield, I thought, ran extremely hard," Burgess commented.
The Eagles finished the season perfect at home and Burgess noted that it was a great sense of pride that powered the team's success on its home turf. He also spoke about how important it is to have a home field advantage going into the sectional.
"It's huge. We've said it all along, and our guys take a lot of pride in this now," Burgess said. "The field being dedicated to coach Wildman, these guys never played for Mark, but I coached against him for years, coach (Nathan) Aker played for him -- these kids grew up watching him out here. There's a lot of respect in this football program for coach Wildman and I think our kids take it to heart.
"It's a big deal to play on his field and be a part of that and we haven't been beat on it yet, so we're going to ride that as long as we can and hopefully on into the tournament," he said.
The Eagles will host the 8-1 South Vermillion Wildcats in the first game of the 2009 sectional. Burgess said he expects them to spread it out and throw it. He said the team will begin their prep in the morning, but told the team to enjoy the success they shared Friday.
South Putnam will host South Vermillion at 7 p.m. Friday.
At South Putnam
Cascade 0 6 0 0 -- 6
South Putnam 14 7 7 0 -- 28
Cascade -- Younge 13-90 TD, Smith 8-13, Arthur 2-7, Helmick 4-0
South Putnam -- Cash 28-162 TD, Zimmerman 7-34 TD, Nichols 3-1 TD, Freeman 1-1, Heller 2-(-3), Gibson 1-(-3), Wilson 1-(-4)
Cascade -- Smith 6-7-0-0 55 yards
South Putnam -- Zimmerman 4-7-0-0 52 yards
Cascade -- Baldwin 2-25, Helmick 2-19, Rivera 1-7, Younge 1-4
South Putnam -- Chestnut 4-52
Next game -- South Putnam will host South Vermillion at 7 p.m. Friday.