Before the season started, Charlestown football coach Jason Hawkins predicted offensive fireworks and explosions. The Pirates have finally lit that fuse.
After a sluggish 2-2 start, Charlestown has won three straight games, building offensive momentum for the postseason while averaging 42.7 points per game during the streak. The Pirates are poised to enter the postseason as one of Southern Indiana’s hottest teams.
Not even last week’s monsoon rains could dampen the Pirates (5-2), who ignored the elements and erupted for 56 points during a dominating victory over Corydon. They will make Friday’s road trip to Providence (2-5) with renewed confidence.
Game preview: Charlestown at Providence
“I think we were struggling, compared to what I thought we should be doing,” Hawkins said. “We’ve gotten better every week. We’re finally starting to hit our groove, and the best thing is we’re starting to hit our groove right before sectional time.”
Charlestown and the rest of the state will learn their sectional fate when the IHSAA announces the sectional draws on Sunday afternoon. Class 3-A’s Sectional 31 is top heavy, with six of the eight teams posting winning records, topped by undefeated No.8 North Harrison.
“The sectional will be really tough,” Hawkins said. “There are a lot of good teams in it and anybody can win it. We’ll have to play our best football, for three weeks in a row, to win that.”
Charlestown cannot afford a letdown during the final two weeks of the regular season. Providence is viewed as a rivalry game, which has helped Hawkins keep the Pirates focused.
The Pioneers have had offensive issues, averaging only 8.8 points during their five losses. They didn’t handle last week’s wet conditions, fumbling 10 times (losing five) and wasting a 12-0 halftime lead at home during a loss to Mitchell.
“We made a lot of mistakes that hurt us in crucial situations,” Providence coach Larry Denison said. “We had a bad case of fumblitis. It was too much to overcome.”
Providence cannot afford to be that generous against the Pirates, who will feature junior running back Antonyo Gaddie (209 yards and 4 touchdowns last week) behind a huge offensive line.
“They’re playing very well,” Denison said. “They’re hitting a groove. They have so many weapons, they have one of the best running backs we’ll see all year. They present a lot of problems for us, for any team. They’re going to be a force to be reckoned with.”
Providence is on the Charlestown radar because of recent results and series history. The Pioneers have won the last two, including last year’s surprising 8-7 final at Charlestown, which went on to win the sectional title. Providence’s current two-game losing streak has not dropped Hawkins’ wariness level.
“They’re still Providence,” Hawkins said. “It’s still a rivalry game. They play well against us, and they’ve beaten us the last two years. Even though it looks like they’re struggling, we know it will be a hard-fought game. Both teams get fired up to play. We look at it as a challenge. We know, if we can beat them, that’s a good game to win.”
The Pioneers also see the game as significant, one of five against local “league” teams.
“Any of the local teams are rivals for us because we don’t have a conference to play in,” Denison said. “So we treat all the locals like our own little conference.”
Justin Sokeland can be contacted at [email protected]
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