The adage is that defense wins championships. And if you follow sports for very long you see that this is true. In a second battle of unbeatens, the North defense stood tall in a CCC showdown against South. South threw everything they had at North but had problems even getting a first down in the early going. And on the other side of the ball, the North backfield is loaded with good running backs - any one of which could be feature back on another CCC team. But senior night was Austin Green’s night to shine as he scored 4 times for North. South just couldn’t stop the North offensive juggernaut and in another spotlighted game, North rose to the occasion with a resounding 42-15 win.
It was a playoff atmosphere for this critical game – both the upper and lower parking lots were filled so late arrivals had to scramble for parking spots. If not the biggest crowd ever, it had to be in the top 5. And again there were TV cameras on the sidelines. South wanted get the ball early, establish the run, and get a first score to take the crowd out of the game. So they won the toss and went into a wishbone formation, but North held them to 3 and outs on their first few possessions. South went to their play book and spread out their offense, but yardage was hard to earn.
North on the other hand sliced thru the South defense. The line push got North running backs into the secondary of South’s defense and it generally takes more than one tackler to bring down a North running back. By that time, they had already gained 7-8 yards. So North was able to go out to a 28-0 lead in the 2nd quarter. To their credit, South put together a scoring drive late in the first half. After a Jordan Overcash sack put South into long yardage, on 4th and 14 Wes Cole scrambled then connected with Jared Rivers for a 30 yard touchdown pass.
North received the ball in the second half and there was a flicker of hope when JJ Utz intercepted a Colton Booth pass on that first drive. But the stalwart North defense forced a punt and North did what North does best – drive the ball to the goal line. South pulled out all of the stops – faked a punt on 4th and 7 and kept that drive alive when Josh Cottingim caught a Jacob Bassler for a first down. But they would not cross the goal line again until late in the game when Wes Cole scored and in a final act of defiance, South went for 2 on the PAT and made it.
With the win, North guarantee’s at least a share of the CCC title and are assured of a playoff slot. Will they take a night off next Friday against Trail? Not a chance - this year’s seniors remembered how last season spiraled out of control and towards the end Trail upset North 15-13. They have exorcised all of the ghosts of last year’s losses this season with the exception of Trail. Finally, North has only had one other undefeated team – the 77-78 school year. So that is another goal that the team now has in its sights. So the team will be hungry going into the game.
On the other hand, South will play at Miami East next Friday. Both teams need to win to get into the playoffs and have a possible shot at sharing the league title. It is hard to get up emotionally two weeks in a row, but South will have to steel themselves to play away against another tough league opponent.
Coach Derringer on the game, “The team worked very hard this year, and they had a vision of where they wanted to be – and they have just done an outstanding job. Our defense has played well all year and we stepped up to take away their power game. We set the tempo on that first drive, Colton Booth made a big 3rd down play and we did that all night. We bent a little bit – they were able to bounce outside and get some yardage, but overall I was very pleased. Offensively, I don’t think we punted at all. Sometimes the best defense is keeping the ball in our hands and keeping it out of theirs.”
On Austin Green, “He is very big on the inside. We have others that are good on the outside. We do whatever we have to do – we have had 5 different backs score this season. But it is wonderful that Austin had a good night tonight. “
On the Conference, “It has been since 1994 that we have won a conference title. And that is our goal – it has been our goal since the beginning of the year.” On the chance for being undefeated, “That is a goal for every team that we have. It is hard to do – injuries can be a factor. You have to play well against schools our size. Now we have had some injuries, but we had some kids step up and contribute.” Trail: “We have thought about that game since last year. We are going to work very hard this week and be prepared. We still have a lot to work for and we want to win the championship outright.”