By Nathan Hutchinson
Register Sports Editor
The final game of the regular season will determine the matchup for Madison Central in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs.
The Indians (1-8, 0-2 district) are set to take on Clark County (2-7, 1-2) today in Richmond.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
With a win, Central will be the No. 3 seed in the district and will likely play Henry Clay or Bryan Station on Nov. 8 on the road.
With a loss, the Indians will probably have to take on top-ranked Scott County in Georgetown in two weeks.
“It would be nice not to have to play the No. 1 team in the state two years in a row (in the playoffs),” Central coach Bert Browne said. “So, we’ve just got to go play and stop making the same mistakes over and over.”
It has been a frustrating season for the Indians.
Central has lost seven-straight games and has given up 328 points (46.8 points a game) during that stretch.
Last week’s loss at home to Lafayette was very typical of most of the Indians’ setbacks this season.
Central was able to move the ball (18 first downs), especially in the first half, but the Generals took advantage of miscues and wore down a defensive group that features mostly freshmen and sophomores.
Lafayette scored 23-straight points during the second and third quarters to blow open a big district showdown.
“It’s like Groundhog Day,” Browne said. “I guess that’s what you expect from a young team, but I’ve never had a team this young.”
Turnovers have been a major reason for the Indians recent struggles.
Central has just a -3 turnover margin for the season, but opponents have taken advantage of those mistakes. The Indians have committed 22 turnovers and 16 of those have led to scores (15 touchdowns, one field goal). Opponents have scored 108 points off Central turnovers so far this season.
Lafayette forced four turnovers and turned them into 10 points last week and Tates Creek scored 14 points off three Central turnovers two weeks ago.
“The defense was playing well, but we laid on egg on offense,” Browne said of the loss to Lafayette.
Sophomore running back Johan Williams had another solid game, picking up 98 yards on 19 carries with a touchdown.
So far this season, Williams has 815 yards on 146 carries (5.5 yards a carry) with eight rushing touchdowns. He has rushed for more than 100 yards in three of the past five games.
It’s been a difficult season for the Cardinals as well.
After opening the year with a win over Rowan County, 58-13, they lost six-straight games before beating Tates Creek, 33-26, last week at home.
During that losing streak, Clark County allowed 44.6 points a game and gave up 50 or more points four times.
In the win over Tates Creek, the Cardinals trailed by a point late, but went on a 10-play, 64-yard TD drive and got a 22-yard pass from Lloyd Campbell to Khmarkis Blanton with 2:07 left in the game.
Clark County had 18 first down, rushed for 155 yards (4.7 yards a carry) and did not have a turnover in the district victory.
Logan Burchett had 102 yards rushing on 13 carries with two touchdowns. Quarterback Tyrek Chenault was 13-of-21 for 204 yards and two touchdowns.
“They’ve gotten better every week,” Browne said of the Cardinals. “I thought Clark County could beat Tates Creek and they did. At the beginning of the year they looked terrible. Now they look like a decent football team.”
Central has won 11 of the past 13 games with Clark County, including two straight.
The Indians rolled to a 50-18 win last season in Winchester in a game that featured a running clock for the entire second half.
Clark County beat Central in 2010 and 2009, but prior to that, Central had won seven-straight games (2002-2008).
“That’s our biggest rival. Nothing will ever replace that. That’s our rival. Always has been, always will be. It’s always been a big game for us, even when I was a kid.”