By Nathan Hutchinson
Register Sports Editor
The Madison Central coaching staff didn’t show the film of last week’s loss to Knox Central to its players.
After the coaches watched it, they knew there was really no point dwelling on a disappointing loss.
“We pretty much just threw it in the trash,” Central coach Bert Browne said.
As painful as that 44-36 overtime loss in the regular-season finale was, the Indians (6-4) had to move on.
With a match-up against DuPont Manual (4-6) in the opening round of the Class 6A Playoffs just a few days away, the focus needed to be on the future, not the past.
“We put that behind us Monday before practice,” Browne said. “We’ve been concentrating on Manual. I don’t think it does you any good to re-hash something like that. We all know we should have won that game.”
The Indians have not won a playoff game since 2008, but they will look to break that four-game postseason losing streak today at home against DuPont Manual.
Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. at Madison Central High School.
A win would likely set up a trip to Louisville next week to face top-ranked and defending state champion Trinity.
“We’ve got an opportunity to do something here that no one has done in a while,” Browne said. “We’ve got a group of seniors who have brought this program a long way. It would be awful nice to get us a win.”
The Indians seemed ready to carry some big-time momentum into the playoffs.
After blasting Clark County, 50-18, two weeks ago in the final district game, Central had a 29-6 lead over Knox Central just after halftime last week at home.
The Panthers slowly battled back and tied the game with 1:01 left in the fourth quarter. Knox Central scored on its first play of overtime, then got an interception on Central’s only possession of the extra period to end the game.
Senior Dominique Hawkins had four touchdowns for the second-straight week (three rushing, one receiving) and Ken-Jah Bosley had 221 yards receiving on 12 catches.
Still, the Panthers limited Central to just 90 yards rushing on 35 carries while racking up 324 yards on the ground, led by 212 yards from Jeffery Canady.
“When you have an opportunity to hammer someone, you better do it,” Browne said of the loss to Knox Central. “Especially against good football teams. They are not going to lay down and quit.”
Quarterback Hunter Stocker completed 21-of-31 passes for 348 yards, two touchdowns with two interceptions against Knox Central. The senior has been battling back spasms all week, but is expected to play against Manual.
If Stocker can’t go, senior Tucker Fair will likely be under center.
For the second-straight week, the Indians are set to face a run-oriented offense.
The Crimsons have averaged more than 230 yards a game on the ground this season, led by Dishan Romine. The senior has 1,424 yards rushing this season and 18 total touchdowns (16 rushing, two receiving).
Last week, Romine rushed for 261 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-0 win over Moore at home.
“They are not big on throwing it,” Browne said of Manual. “They run the football. And that’s what I think we do best — defend the run. So, we’ve got to do that.”
The Indians have allowed more than 200 yards rushing only three times this season — Scott County (336), Boone County (218) and Knox Central.
Central has given up an average of 165 yards a game on the ground this season and until last week had not allowed more than 156 yards rushing in six games.
“They are not as physical as Knox Central,” Browne said of Manual. “They’ve got more athletes. Knox Central will just punch you in the mouth. We’ve got to get after this bunch.”
The Crimsons have only four wins, but all of their losses this season have come against teams with winning records — Central (8-2), Pleasure Ridge Park (10-0), Ballard (7-3), Butler (7-3), Trinity (8-1) and St. Xavier (6-4).
Manual has won two straight (wins over Male and Moore) and has advanced to the second round of the playoffs for five-straight years.
“They are not a 4-6 team,” Browne said. “If they played the schedule that 90 percent of the teams in the state play, then they probably win at least seven games. They are pretty dang good.”