GREENCASTLE -- The sectional showdown between North Putnam and Greencastle is set and looks like it will be played in perfect November football weather. The kickoff temperature is predicted to be 39 degrees, so it will be left to the Tiger Cubs and Cougars to heat things up.
In the teams' earlier meeting this year; the Cougars were red hot, scoring 28 first-quarter points en route to their 49-14 victory. North Putnam mixed it up, scoring two on the ground and two through the air in the opening quarter.
Following the game, North Putnam head coach Greg Barrett was pleased with his team's quick start and noted the changes he saw in the Greencastle squad.
"Great way to start a game," Barrett said. "I think being a rivalry, we didn't play great last year against them. A new coach and a new attitude and we know they're a better team. They've got good athletes out there and that coaching staff has done a great job with them. We try to take each week -- we pretend it could be a state championship game. We talked about the last couple weeks, we've come out -- we played a first half instead of waiting until the third quarter.
"Tonight, we were explosive in the first quarter and that's what we need to do. We have to get out fast and furious. I thought they did a great job of that," he added.
The Tiger Cubs were able to respond as they have all season with a big play on defense. Hayden Stuchwisch snagged a Kolton Everts pass and scored from 51 yards out to give GHS its first score. The defense also recovered a fumble in the end zone, accounting for all of Greencastle's scoring.
Greencastle's power rusher Jesse Vermillion played only on the defensive side of the ball in the first meeting, so that will add another dynamic to the Tiger Cub offense the Cougars will have to pay attention to.
After the loss to North Putnam, GHS head coach Eric Davis said his team needed to protect the ball, something the team has done a better job of as the regular season came to a close. He also commented his defense had some struggles as well.
"We have to take care of the ball," Davis said. "We turned the ball over, we get in situations where we can't move the ball -- we have problems. We had problems here tonight offensively.
"Defensively, early on, we had problems blocking and tackling. Getting off blocks and making tackles and that sort of things. So, they just took it to us in every way. There's no two ways around that," he said.
Throughout the season, North Putnam has been a team of punishing defense and equally devastating offense. It has outscored Greencastle 458-176 on the season and has only allowed 94 points.
In their first meeting, North Putnam held Greencastle to 26 total offensive yards, but Greencastle has made strides late in the season. Since the Tiger Cubs' loss to Cascade on Oct. 8, Greencastle has won three straight and outscored their opponents 86-24.
In the same number of weeks, North Putnam has outscored its opponents 139-30. North Putnam is limiting its opponents to just nine points per contest with three shutouts on the season.
In their last outing against Monrovia, it took North Putnam a quarter and a half to really get going, but once they did, they didn't look back. On Friday, it will be interesting to see if they can get the quick start they did back on Sept. 24 or if the Greencastle defense will be able to hold them in check.
One thing is for sure, you can probably leave for doors unlocked and your valuables in plain sight, because the bulk of Putnam County is going to be at Cougar Stadium at 7 p.m. Friday.
So grab your blankets, let your school pride burst forth and enjoy the sectional final. I know I will.