TERRE HAUTE -- On a day normally reserved for college football, Indiana State University's Memorial Stadium was the setting for three high school contests in the inaugural Jay Barrett Wabash Valley Classic Saturday.
North Putnam was amongst the squads chosen to participate and was the Indiana squad in the inter-state game against Red Hill of Illinois.
It was a matchup that proved to be lopsided as the Cougars scored on their first five possessions and won comfortably 46-0 over the Salukis.
Based out of Bridgeport, Ill., the Salukis came into the game with a 2-1 record, their only loss to Division 2 powerhouse and conference foe Casey-Westfield. North Putnam was looking to keep its perfect start going a week after smashing county foe South Putnam.
Right from the beginning, North Putnam took the game to the Salukis. A potent running attack was the basis for two first quarter scores, both by senior running back Jordan Murphy. The fast start was a point of emphasis for Cougar head coach Greg Barrett.
"The guys came out fast and furious. We've been talking about that since the beginning of the season," Barrett said. "We just have not put a first quarter together and I thought that was a great first quarter tonight (Saturday). I'm very proud of the way they played."
The speed and physicality of the Cougar offense was matched by a defense that swarmed the Salukis. Red Hill's multiple option looks continually ran into a swarming North Putnam defense that didn't allow a first down until the fourth quarter.
Before then, the Cougars forced three turnovers, including two interceptions for senior linebacker Mitch Marlow in the third quarter. Penalties were the only thing allowing Red Hill to make any headway as the Cougars cost themselves 100 yards on seven penalties.
"Some of those penalties, I understand them. Some of them are based on personnel and on the grouping you have in there. Those are things we can live with, especially when you have a lead like you do, it's OK to handle that. As the season goes, those are things we have to get better at, even when the top dogs are in the game," Barrett explained.
The Cougars scored three times in the second quarter as the offensive line created massive running lanes in the Saluki defense. Senior Travis Kratt scored twice, including a 45-yard run up the middle for the second touchdown, while Murphy added his third.
The 34-0 score line at halftime was generous to the visitors, who were unable to match the Cougars anywhere on the field. It would not get better as Marlow's first interception set up Travis Franklin to score on the next play.
The second half was played with a continuously running clock, and after the Franklin score it was time for the reserves to take the field on ISU's artificial grass field.
By that point, Red Hill was well out of the game. The Cougar offense was dominant enough that 11 players recorded runs and none had more than six carries. Quarterback Kolten Everts only threw five times, completing 3 for 43 yards.
The scoring was capped by a 7-yard run by freshman Kaleb Belcher after the Cougar defense had forced the Salukis to fumble inside their own 10-yard line. The only thing that went wrong all day for the Cougars was three missed extra points, a stat that in a 46-0 game is somewhat forgivable.
Barrett was certainly pleased about the result, if maybe a little surprised about the ease of his quad's victory.
"[Red Hill] plays in a great Illinois conference with Casey (Westfield) and Marshall. Casey's a ranked four team and played them in game one and that was their only other loss. They've been beaten by two ranked teams now. I'll tell you the truth, I thought that would be a little bit different than that outcome," Barrett said, "I'm excited about how well we played. We played hard, we played fast and we played aggressive."
North will celebrate Homecoming this week against a Greencastle squad that's been reinvigorated by new head coach Eric Davis.
"New coach, new attitude at Greencastle. I watched that game and I tell you those guys, they're a lot better. They're working together as a team, they're going to be ready for us and they think they can play with us and they should," he said.
"We know we've got a challenge for us. Every week we talk about we have a challenge. We have to play every game like it's a state championship game. We don't hold off for nobody and we'll bring our 'A' game and play fast and furious."
At Memorial Stadium, Terre Haute
Red Hill 0 0 0 0 -- 0
North Putnam 14 20 6 6 -- 46
NP -- Murphy 3 yard run (Summerlot kick) 7-0
3:10 -- Murphy 20 yard run (Summerlot kick) 14-0
11:24 -- Murphy 7 yard run (Summerlot kick) 21-0
9:12 -- Kratt 23 yard run (Summerlot kick) 28-0
7:23 -- Kratt 45 yard run (XP no good) 34-0
11:40 -- Franklin 28 yard run (XP blocked) 40-0
7:02 -- Belcher 7 yard run (XP no good) 46-0
Next game -- North Putnam hosts Greencastle for Homecoming next Friday at 7 p.m.