FOOTBALL: A regular season full of superlatives
By JOSH COOK
Oct 21, 2019
Down! Set! Hut! Welcome back to the Southern Indiana Monday Morning Quarterback (although we're coming to you on Tuesday this week), where we look back at the news, notes and quotes from the local high school weekend that was, as well as look ahead at what's to come.
The regular season wrapped up this past Friday night, and what a good one it was — and I’m not just talking about the weather, which was spectacular save Week 8.
It was nine weeks filled with highlights and high-fives, big wins and bitter defeats. So before we get into sectional play Friday, let’s take a look back at the top five stories involving our local teams from the regular season.
5. THE YOUTH MOVEMENT
Varsity football isn’t just for juniors and seniors anymore. Several area underclassmen have played big roles for their teams this season.
The biggest example of that can be found at New Albany, where several sophomores played pivotal parts in the regular season. Foremost among those have been running back Myles Johnson, quarterback Kyondre Winford and wide receiver Dejon Winburn. Johnson has run for over 1,100 yards and 13 touchdowns, while Winford has rushed for more than 700 yards and passed for over 450 and Winburn is the team’s top receiver. Steve Cooley’s young pups aren’t the only ones doing work though.
New Albany quarterback Kyondre Winford hands the ball off to Myles Johnson during Friday's game against Floyd Central.
STAFF PHOTO BY TYLER STEWART
Silver Creek sophomore Easton Messer is the Dragons’ top receiver and also ranks third on the team in rushing. He’s also a big-time threat in the return game, just ask Charlestown. His 74-yard punt return — arguably the top play of the regular season — with 1 minute, 6 seconds to play lifted Silver Creek to a 13-7 victory over the Pirates in Week 1. Messer’s classmate, Trey Schoen, and freshman LaShun Mays have also made significant contributions for the Dragons.
Meanwhile Rock Creek sophomore Kendrick Peyton tops the team in tackles despite having played only five games.
4. SILVER CREEK RISING
The Dragons entered this season coming off of back-to-back campaigns of 9-3 and 7-4, but without most of the players responsible for that success.
Silver Creek head coach Dave Papenhaus talks with quarterback Ben Landers during the Dragons' 22-13 loss at Brownstown Central on Friday. Photo by Joe Ullrich
Photo by Joe Ullrich
Enter Dave Papenhaus. In his first year as the head man the long-time area assistant guided Silver Creek to its best regular season since the program was revived.
The Dragons have done it with defense. They’ve allowed 10.33 points per game — which ranks 18th over all six classes — and allowed only more than 14 points once — their 22-13 loss at unbeaten Brownstown Central. They also succeeded in spite of injuries to key contributors. The biggest of those was a broken ankle suffered by starting quarterback Dylan Meyers in Week 3’s win at Providence. He missed the final six games of the regular season and likely won’t be available until the regional, if the Dragons make it that far.
3. THE WRIGHT STUFF
Floyd Central junior Wenkers Wright was half of the Highlanders’ running back duo last season. But after the graduation of Tyler Edwards, Wright took over the lead back duties and ran with them, quite literally.
After gaining 85 yards in the season-opening loss at Louisville Male, the best team in Kentucky’s Class 6A, Wright put up ridiculous numbers, and several highlight-reel runs, over a three-week stretch — rushing for 866 yards and 12 touchdowns in wins over Providence, Vincennes Lincoln and New Albany.
He finished the regular season with an area-best 1,699 rushing yards and 20 TDs.
To top it off the kid has an infectious smile, and personality, as well as a great story, having been adopted from Haiti when he was 6.
2. LUKES BREAKS RECORDS
Charlestown senior running back Marion Lukes has followed up his incredible junior season — 2,599 rushing yards (259.9 per game) — with a very, very good senior campaign.
Charlestown's Marion Lukes looks for running space during the Pirates' 13-7 win over Providence at Dutch Reis Field on Friday. Photo by Joe Ullrich
Photo by Joe Ullrich
In the regular season Lukes rushed 135 times for 1,561 yards — 11.6 yards per carry and 173.4 yards per game — and 22 touchdowns. During the season, he also became the Pirates’ all-time leading rusher and eclipsed 5,000 rushing yards for his three-year career.
Lukes, who also recently flipped his college commitment from Eastern Kentucky University to Central Michigan, enters the postseason with 5,234 career rushing yards and 63 rushing TDs.
1. THE STREAK ENDS
Despite its fourth consecutive winless season, you could see the culture changing at Clarksville last year with the arrival of new head coach Justin Boser.
Clarksville entered this season with a 45-game losing streak — the longest in the state. The Generals nearly ended the slide Week 1 against Scottsburg before losing 21-20. But it was only a matter of time. They broke the streak — and in a big way — the next week with a 54-18 win over Eastern.
The Clarksville cheerleaders celebrate during the Generals' 54-18 victory over Eastern on Friday.
Photo by Joe Ullrich
Clarksville didn’t stop there, though. It won 34-29 at Corydon Central in Week 8, then followed that up with a wild 62-60 win over North Harrison last Friday night for the program’s first two-game winning streak in five years. The Generals will try for three in a row — which hasn’t happened since 2012 — this Friday night, when they host Providence in the first round of the sectional.
While Boser has gotten his squad to change its mindset, it doesn’t hurt that he has some players too. Dynamic junior Dae’von Fuqua leads the way. And with him, junior quarterback Keyshawn Minor and freshman running back Robert Lamar all set to return next year it isn’t far-fetched to think that the Generals could have a shot at their first winning season since 2012 in 2020.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Dae’von Fuqua, Clarksville: The junior RB-WR ran 18 times for 265 yards and five touchdowns, while also making two catches for 5 yards and a TD, in the Generals’ wild 62-60 win over North Harrison on Friday night. Oh by the way, Fuqua also tallied 22 total tackles, including 20 solo stops, on defense.
Bo Braunecker, Charlestown: The senior linebacker tallied a team-high 11 tackles, including two for losses, and an interception in the Pirates’ 35-6 win at Eastern last Friday night.
Marion Lukes, Charlestown: The senior RB ran for 93 yards and three touchdowns on only nine carries in the Pirates’ win over the Musketeers.
Ben Landers, Silver Creek: The junior quarterback ran for 92 yards, including a 50-yard TD, while also completing 2 of 3 passes for 23 yards and another score in the Dragons’ 28-14 triumph over Corydon Central. On defense he also had five tackles, including three for losses.
Tristan Polk, Floyd Central: The junior quarterback completed 9 of 16 passes for 172 yards and two TDs in the Highlanders' 21-14 triumph over Seymour.
Kyondre Winford, New Albany: The sophomore QB ran for 118 yards while completing 4 of 6 passes for 34 yards, including a 20-yard TD to Dejon Winburn.
Wenkers Wright, Floyd Central: The junior RB ran 30 times for 216 yards, including a 95-yard TD run, in the Highlanders’ win over the Owls.
A LOOK AHEAD
Here’s a quick glance at Friday’s upcoming games.
Brownstown Central (9-0) at Charlestown (7-2): The Pirates look to avenge their 21-14 loss to the Braves in Week 2, while extending their winning streak to eight straight.
Silver Creek (8-1) at East Central (9-0): The Dragons try for their second straight win and an upset of the second-ranked Trojans.
Providence (3-6) at Clarksville (3-6): The Pioneers look to end their two-game losing streak while the Generals try for their third consecutive victory.
North Central Farmersburg (1-8) at Rock Creek (2-6): The Lions look for their first-ever postseason win.