Old fashioned Jimtown football will be in vogue at Sharpe Stadium on Friday night.
With a high-flying Marian High School offense coming in for the JHS Homecoming, Jimmes' coach Mike Campbell knows his team will have to control the clock and limit mistakes if they're to hand the Knights their first loss of the 2019 season.
Marian comes to Baugo Township with a 4-0 mark and a 3-0 record in the Northern Indiana Conference's South Division. They're currently ranked No. 4 in Class 3A. Jimtown is 2-2 and improved to 2-0 in the conference last week with a 28-3 victory over Glenn.
"We will need to control the football and it will be better for us if we can keep their offense off the field,'' Campbell said. "Defensively, we know we're going to give up some yards, but the key will be getting off the field on third down. Marian has done a good job of converting some big third downs this year, so avoiding giving up the big play will be very important. We need to make sure of the tackle and then line up for the next play.''
Marian's offense is averaging over 47 points-a-game this season and the Knights are coming off their most impressive win of the year, a 48-14 win over previously unbeaten South Bend Riley.
Junior quarterback Maddix Bogunia has been the engine that makes Marian go so far, completing 32 of his 56 passes for 466 yards and seven touchdowns. He's also rushed for 116 yards and seven more touchdowns this season.
"Bogunia is just a very dynamic player,'' Campbell said. "In the past, Marian has had solid kids running the offense, but this kid can fling the ball 40 yards on a rope and really stretch the defense. He's really what separates this year's offense from some of the Marian teams in the past.''
The Knights have another strong offensive threat in junior halfback Malcom Anderson, who is averaging 8.3 yards-a-carry this season, while senior Mitchell Floran is the top pass catcher with 15 receptions for 216 yards and four touchdowns.
Campbell said having played Elkhart Central just two weeks ago could help his team get ready for Marian's offense.
"Marian is very fast, physical and you can tell they're well coached,'' Campbell said. "No one compares to the athleticism that Central has, but Marian probably comes the closest in the area. I think facing Central will get us ready for the physicality we'll see Friday and there are similarities in the receivers and corners. The biggest difference is, Marian's quarterback needs to do a little more for them to click.''
Jimtown's rushing offense tuned-up for Marian in its win over Glenn, as juniors Oscar Zelaya (189 yards) and Cole Thompson (88 yards) helped lead the Jimmies to exactly 300 yards rushing against the Falcons. Jimtown also has a running threat in Ethan Devol, who actually leads the team in rushing with 344 yards on the year.
"I think a strong ground game like we had against Glenn will help the kids gain some confidence ... and that can go a long way,'' Campbell said. "We haven't had the same offensive line in back-to-back weeks and that will continue this week. But I believe we're starting to see some cohesion along the front and that will be very important this week.''
• CENTRAL CONFERENCE OPENER: After cruising through its non-conference schedule with a 4-0 mark, Elkhart Central begins its Northern Indiana Conference schedule on Friday at South Bend St. Joseph's Father Bly Field.
The Blue Blazers, ranked No. 7 in Class 5A, will bring their high-scoring offense to St. Joe on the heels of a 41-0 victory over Benton Harbor last week. Senior Dom Davis, filling in for classmate Mark Brownlee at the halfback spot, rushed for 245 yards and a school-record tying six touchdowns in the game.
But the Rodney McGraw-led Blazer defense can't be overlooked either, as Central has allowed just 10 total points in its last three victories.
While St. Joe has struggled to an 0-4 start, Central's schedule the rest of the season includes state-ranked Mishawaka and New Prairie, along with Penn and South Bend Adams.
It should be noted that St. Joe's losses have been to unbeatens Concord, Marian and New Prairie, along with 3-1 Northridge.
• FAIRFIELD SHOWDOWN: After winning a total of two games the last three years, the Fairfield Falcons are 3-1 this season and face a big game Friday when they host unbeaten West Noble.
The game is the Northeast Corner Conference (Big School Division) opener for both schools.
Coach Matt Thacker's Falcons have been a force defensively the last two weeks, holding Central Noble and Fremont to a combined six points. Meanwhile, quarterback Cory Lantz has led a consistent Fairfield offense that controls the clock and doesn't make a lot of mistakes.
Meanwhile, senior Nolin Sharick has been a revelation for the Falcons this season as both a wide receiver and defensive back. This is his first season playing football.
West Noble also features a strong rushing attack, led by senior Brandon Pruitt, who is averaging seven yards-a-carry this season. The Chargers also have an experienced senior at quarterback in Kyle Mawhorter.
Elkhart Central at SB. St. Joseph (C)
Plymouth at Elkhart Memorial (C)
Marian at Jimtown (C)
Concord at Goshen (C)
Wawasee at NorthWood (C)
Northridge at Warsaw (C)
West Noble at Fairfield (C)
SB Adams at Penn (C)
All games start at 7 p.m.