Cougars prepare for battle with Knights

Friday, October 25, 2013

ROACHDALE -- The North Putnam football team is coming off its first win of the season last Friday when it traveled to Cloverdale and came away with a 24-21 win. The Cougars look to keep that momentum when they face the Lafayette Central Catholic Knights (8-1) who are ranked third in class 3A.

LCC will prove to be a tough test for the Cougars but as many Putnam County football fans know, they will not go down without a fight. The Cougars have to work hard in practice on their defense since LCC likes to throw a lot of passes. They have attempted 291 so far this season, an average of 32.3 passes a game.

"We will definitely see a lot more passing routes than we have seen in the past probably," North Putnam coach Greg Barrett said. "They do like to mix it up. Really, they play like our offense used to be -- they like to throw it and stay spread out. They have athletes they like to use in space. Their quarterback is pretty good, he can throw it and he can run."

Knights senior quarterback Ty Preston is 176-291 for 2,139 yards along with 16 touchdown passes. The leading rusher is senior Joe Smith with 793 yards on 155 rushes.

North Putnam has had the benefit of playing some teams this year that like to pass, like Cascade, Greencastle and Brebeuf, so they will have some idea of the defenses they want to execute.

They hope the execution on their assignments is a little better this week, and it will need to be to stop a powerful LCC team.

The Knights are also a disciplined team. They do not receive very many penalties and they have very good special teams. Also, they stay on their blocks well and they do all the little things necessary to be a four-time defending state champion in 1A and be 66-3 in their last five seasons.

"They are a good team, well coached and very disciplined, which is where we have to improve," Barrett said. "We have to be extremely disciplined (Friday) against a good team like this. That's why you play the game. You never know what will happen."

North Putnam has been more disciplined as of late, which was not the case over the couple years prior. Its special teams is effective, especially their kickoffs by junior Jordan Sarr and punting by senior Beau Green.

The Cougars hope to turn a rather disappointing season into a surprising postseason team by knocking off LCC.

The Knights have proved that they are a beatable team this year by having some close games with sub-par opponents. They struggled against Guerin Catholic (2-7) and only beat them 12-0. LCC suffered its only loss against Culver Academy, a team that was 5-4.

LCC has also beaten the No. 5 team in 2A, Rensselaer Central, 28-27 and it gave the No. 3 team in the 3A poll, West Lafayette, its only loss of the season 27-26 in overtime.

The Knights have not rolled through their schedule, they are just out-grinding other teams and getting hard fought wins, something the Cougars must do to knock off LCC.

The Cougars offense has been a little one-dimensional at times this year, struggling through the air. The Cougars leading back, senior Kaleb Belcher, is out with an ankle injury and senior Tyler Land has taken over for him nicely.

The passing for the Cougars has been a little off but that could be due to the fact that this is the first year that senior quarterback Gabe McFadden has started and the receiving corps is relatively new.

"We have to sure up our own passing game, we need to become more two-dimensional and that is something we just have to do ourselves," Barrett said.

The coaching staff has faith in this team and they know that anything could happen with a bounce of the football, a little luck and faith in your team.

North Putnam will make the hour long trip to LCC, hope to play the best game of the year and hopefully stay warm. The temperatures Friday night will be hanging around 26 degrees, which could be a record low.

"We've been extremely prepared since Day One," Barret said, "and that's a testament to our staff. We have a great staff that works hard, kids that work hard and you know you devise a game plan each week and go out and hope the kids perfect it.

"That's what we are going to try to do this Friday night. They've had a great week of practice and they are excited about it."

North Putnam plays at Lafayette Central Catholic on Friday at 7 p.m.

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