Football aims to bring home Copper Kettle

Coach+Lyon+Embraces+James+Schott+after+his+fumble+recovery+in+last+week%27s+56-7+victory+over+Decatur+Central.

Emma Matlock

Coach Lyon Embraces James Schott after his fumble recovery in last week’s 56-7 victory over Decatur Central.

Earl Ridlen and Sam Findley

No. 1 Center Grove will travel to MIC rival No. 2 Carmel tonight, with the Trojans looking to extend their winning streak to 17 games. 

“Obviously one of the biggest reasons is it’s for the Copper Kettle, which we treasure and the winner gets to keep it for a year,” Coach Moore said. “And, it’s the next game. In our program the next game is the most important.” 

The Trojans will face a tough challenge in senior quarterback Zachary Thomas. In the passing game, he has a 63.5 completion percentage with 381 yards and 3 touchdowns this season. Additionally, he shows his versatility by adding on another 103 yards on the ground as well as 5 rushing touchdowns, giving him the most on the team.

Senior defensive end James Schott has been a presence on the defensive side for CG, racking up 8 total tackles, one fumble recovery and 2.5 tackles for a loss. The Miami Of Ohio commit will look to keep Carmel’s QB on the scramble.

“The keys to containing the quarterback are probably just four main points of the pass rush: it keeps two people in front of him and two people to the side of him and just not let him out of the pocket,” Schott said. 

Thomas shows a tendency to target junior wide receiver Desmond Duffy, who has 11 receptions for 192 yards and 2 touchdowns this season. This has notched him as the top pass catcher in both yards and touchdowns. Junior Ethan Watt will likely guard Thomas and will try to stay on top of his assignment. 

“I need to stay over the top of him,” Watt said. “He’s very quick. I can’t let him get behind me. He’s also a good route runner. I need to keep my eyes on his hip and know my assignments.”

When it comes to the Trojans offense, a player to watch this week is senior running back Daniel Weems, who has 173 all-purpose yards and 2 touchdowns on the season. With junior running back Micah Coyle likely being limited due to injury, Weems looks to be the feature back in the offense. 

In last year’s matchup against Carmel, Weems rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown, leading CG to a 42-0 victory. Weems has also rushed for 112 yards and one rushing touchdown to start this season.

“I need to stick to the basics,” Weems said. “I need to watch their schemes and know how they move around the field. Their linebackers like to wrap around or come off the edge and as a running back I’m making sure I’m ready to pick them up.”

Senior quarterback Tayven Jackson has led the Trojans offense, throwing for 252 yards and three touchdowns. Center Grove has often looked to Jackson to run the ball in the red zone; he has rushed for two touchdowns in just thirteen yards. 

“For the team this week I need to make sure I can be a leader,” Jackson said. “Having a good game is important but listening to the coach and doing what he tells us will win us the game. We just need to go out there and play hard and everything will take care of itself.” 

If the Trojans offense bogs down, they will likely look to their kicker, junior Nolan Foley, to put points on the board. Foley has completed a perfect 15-15 extra points and his lone field goal attempt.

“Everybody always overlooks the extra points. Just like free throws in basketball, if it’s a close game, it comes down to free throws just like extra points in football,” Foley said. “I’ve just always gotta be ready and be mentally prepared and imagine the kicks going in.”

A win against Carmel would secure the hardware for Center Grove for the second year in a row. The win would also give the Trojans a massive advantage over Carmel in the race for a conference title.. In the history of the Copper Kettle, Center Grove has won 11 to Carmel’s 12 Copper Kettle victories. If the Trojans win tonight, they will tie Carmel for total Copper Kettle wins. 

“The Carmel game has several different reasons why it’s important,” Coach Eric Moore said. “It’s an early conference game in the season, and it’s a chance to get 2-0 in the conference. It is a chance to compete and beat one of our arch rivals.”