Blue Blazers hope to end Jimtown series with a victory

Elkhart  Central senior Mark Brownlee, here scoring a touchdown against Elkhart Memorial in the season opener, is currently second in the state in rushing with just over 500 yards this season.

No Elkhart Central football team has ever beaten the Jimtown Jimmies.

Granted the teams have only played twice, but it's still a blip in the record books that the Blue Blazers would like to erase on Friday when they host Jimtown at Rice Field.

"Jimtown has a ton of tradition and those kids play really hard for their school,'' Central coach Josh Shattuck said. "We haven't played them since I've been here, but I know those kids are going to come at us on Friday.''

Jimtown won the first meeting between the schools in 2015 (27-7) and repeated the win the next season (42-20). Jimtown played Angola the last two years, before agreeing to a one-year contract with Central for 2019.

The Blue Blazers are off to a 2-0 start with wins over Elkhart Memorial and Goshen.

Shattuck's team features two of the state's top players in runningback Mark Brownlee and defensive end Rodney McGraw

Brownlee, who has committed to Ball State, is second in the state in rushing with 502 yards this season. He's also third in Indiana with seven touchdowns.

Meanwhile, McGraw, who added Penn State and Cincinnati to his growing list of Division I offers, leads the state with five sacks already this season.

But Shattuck knows the Jimmies will show a different kind of offensive attack than his team has seen so far this season.

"Jimtown will provide an awesome challenge for our defense,'' Shattuck said. "Memorial and Goshen have run similar formations out of the shotgun and tried to spread us out . We've been really good defensively, mainly because of our team speed. But Jimtown will make a more concentrated effort on running the football, controlling the clock and limiting the possessions of both teams. Running the ball gives them a good sense of identity.''

"I think one of the big keys for us will be to get quick stops and not let them get some first downs. The goal can't be to just stop them from scoring, we need to get their offense off the field so they can't play a field possession game. Our defense has been very good against the pass this season, but against a team like Jimtown, we'll have to rely on our physical strength and toughness rather than our athleticism.''

With senior halfback Tre Washington still working his way back from a torn ACL he suffered during basketball season, Jimtown coach Mike Campbell has turned to junior Ethan Devol, who rushed for 185 yards in the Jimmies victory over South Bend Washington last Friday.

Senior quarterback Clay Campbell, a three-year starter for Jimtown, is a threat both on the ground and through the air, with senior Dustin Whitman being his top target.

As for the Elkhart Central offense, Shattuck knows the Blue Blazers will need to cut down on the penalties and mistakes as the season goes on. Central had three touchdowns called back because of penalties against Goshen.

"We've got to clean up the penalties ... we just kept thwarting our own drives and made things harder on ourselves,'' Shattuck said of the win over Goshen. "But that's the nice thing about our schedule, we don't play a conference game until week five, so we want to try and go full-steam into the Northern Indiana Conference play. We've met our first goal of winning the city title, now we have to get better so we can compete for a conference championship.''

• NORTHWOOD-CONCORD: One of the biggest games in the Northern Lakes Conference every season will take place Friday when NorthWood travels to Jake Field to face unbeaten Concord.

The Minutemen opened NLC play last week with a 31-18 victory over Elkhart Memorial, while NorthWood lost at home 38-21 to No. 3 (3A) Indianapolis Chatard in a non-conference game. Concord has won 12 of the last 14 meetings, with the only NorthWood wins coming in 2016 and 2018 – when the Panthers won the NLC.

After rushing for negative yardage in their opening-game win against South Bend St. Joseph, Concord rushed for 227 against Elkhart Memorial. Jamyris Rice led a balanced attack with 75 yards on just six carries, while senior Carter Neveraski added 68 on 11 totes. Wide receiver Amarion Moore caught three touchdown passes from quarterback Ethan Cain, including a game-clinching 57-yarder in the fourth quarter.

Junior quarterback Nate Newcomer leads a Panther offense that was held to just 102 rushing yards against a powerful Chatard team last Friday. Newcomer has rushed for 154 yards so far this season, while completing 7 of his 13 passes for 92 yards and a touchdown. Running back Jaden Miller has added 128 yards rushing and nearly five yards-a-carry.

 

Jimtown at Elkhart Central

NorthWood at Concord (C)

Elkhart Memorial at Goshen (C)

Wawasee at Northridge (C)

Central Noble at Fairfield (C)

Homewood-Flossmoor at Penn, 7:30

All games are at 7 p.m. unless noted.

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