Charlestown has a huge gap to close and something to prove in its sectional rematch with conference rival Brownstown on Friday night.
The Pirates will attempt to reverse a 46-14 beatdown by the Braves in the Class 3-A Sectional 31 semifinal at Charlestown. The winner will meet either Southridge (7-3) or Corydon (6-4) in the championship game next week.
Charlestown (8-2) has won six straight games and rallied to upset Heritage Hills in last week’s sectional opener. But the embarrassing blowout at Brownstown in Week 2 has been a sore spot, and the Pirates insist that was not their true identity.
Game preview: Brownstown at Charlestown
“Anybody that has watched us play from then until now knows we’ve gotten a lot better,” Charlestown coach Jason Hawkins said. “We’ve improved weekly more than any team I’ve had since I’ve been coaching. We’ve come a long way.”
How far have they come? The Pirates have averaged 41 points per game during their streak, and they rallied in the second half to conquer the sectional favorite. There’s also precedence for a turnaround. Last season, the Braves won the regular-season game 21-20 (in Lucas Oil Stadium) before the Pirates posted a 27-16 tournament win en route to the sectional title.
“It’s more about how bad they beat us the first time,” Hawkins said. “We want to show everybody we’re a way better football team than what we showed in Week 2. We want to show how far we’ve come. We all believe we’re better than what we played that night.”
Brownstown (8-2) totally dominated the first one. Gavin Bane scored four touchdowns, Brownstown had 16 plays of 10-plus yards, and its defense allowed only 58 rushing yards.
Brownstown’s wing-T offense, based on ball deception, spreads the attack to all angles. Defensive discipline is a key against the misdirection and multiple formations the Braves use as weapons.
“Hopefully the second time you see it is a little easier,” Hawkins said. “But they’re good. You have to stay balanced. You can’t overpursue, you can’t leave your spot. If you do, they’re running for a 60-yard touchdown. We have to play sound football and tackle well.”
Both teams will rely heavily on the running game. Antonyo Gaddie leads the Pirates with 1,018 yards and 13 touchdowns while quarterback Brendan Lawler has added 663 yards rushing.
“They are doing a great job on both sides of the ball,” Brownstown coach Reed May said. “They also have changed what they are doing on offense and defense since our first game. It seems like they have found the right combination and are playing really well.”
Charlestown is also undefeated at home this season, and Hawkins hopes that helps close the 32-point deficit. Brownstown (6-3 at Charlestown since 2000) is one of the few road teams to enjoy success at Reis Field.
“We’re way more confident,” Hawkins said. “Our mentality is better. We believe we’re a good football team, and we’re playing like a good football team.”
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