By Nathan Hutchinson
Register Sports Editor
The Indians went into last week’s game at Lafayette knowing they controlled their own destiny.
But, after a disappointing 21-0 loss to the Generals, they will need a little help to claim a second-straight district championship.
“We went over there and didn’t take care of business,” Madison Central coach Bert Browne said. “Now, we are hoping and wishing. It’s a shame we didn’t play better offensively.”
To have any shot at district title, the Indians (5-3, 1-1 district) will have to come up with a win today on the road over long-time rival Clark County (0-8, 0-2).
Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. in Winchester.
“We want a home playoff game and if we are the No. 1 seed then we are at home (for a while),” Browne said.
The path to a title for Central is complicated, but certainly not impossible.
The Indians must beat Clark County then defeat Knox Central next week at home in the regular-season finale.
Tates Creek (4-5, 1-1) would have to beat Lafayette (6-3, 2-0) today in Lexington.
That would leave Central, Tates Creek and Lafayette all tied at 2-1 at the top of the district standings. The Indians would have the best overall record (seven wins) and would claim the district title and the chance to play host to at least two home playoff games.
That’s the good news.
But, a loss to Clark County could put the Indians in a very uncomfortable situation.
Central could slip to the No. 3 seed in the district, setting up a first-round playoff matchup on the road against traditional powerhouse St. Xavier.
“They understand that,” Browne said of the importance of the Clark County game.
“So, we are going to go over there with the full intention of whooping their butt.”
Central’s offense had been stunning efficient during a three-game winning streak, averaging 44 points a game in victories over Dunbar, Henry Clay and Tates Creek.
That offense was shockingly inefficient against the Generals.
The Indians had a season-low 252 total yards, were 2-of-8 on third down and had a season-high four turnovers. They also failed to convert on four chances inside the red zone.
“Offensively, we just didn’t play very well,” Browne said. “We never did get anything going and when we did, we screwed it up.”
Central got into the red zone three times in the first half, but those possessions results in a missed field goal, a fumble and a turnover on downs.
The game was scoreless at halftime. Lafayette scored on the opening drive of the second half then added two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
“It should have been 24-0 us in the first half,” Browne said.
Central’s two biggest offensive weapons were neutralized by the Generals. Senior running back Dominique Hawkins had rushed for more than a 100 yards in three-straight games, but was limited to 87 yards on 15 carries. Senior wide receiver Ken-Jah Bosley had just four catches for 33 yards.
Senior quarterback Hunter Stocker completed 9-of-13 passes for 77 yards and was intercepted two times.
Clark County is the only winless Class 6A team in the state.
Still, the Cardinals are coming off perhaps their best overall effort of the season. They had a 14-point first-half lead before Tates Creek rallied for a 46-39 win in Lexington.
Clark County had 500 yards of total offense, 328 of which came on the ground. C.D. Spight had 116 yards rushing and two touchdowns, while quarterback Luke Sharrock had 89 yards rushing, 172 yards passing and four touchdowns (three rushing, one passing).
“They are getting better every week,” Browne said of Clark County.
Against Lafayette two weeks ago, Clark County had 209 yards rushing, including a 119 yards and two touchdowns from Kylan Nelson in a 35-13 loss.
The Cardinals have lost 11 straight games and 16 of their past 17 games.
“They have a new coach,” Browne said of Clark County. “They’ve changed their offense and they are learning a new system. They probably didn’t have a lot coming back anyway. It’s just one of those things.”
Still, with so much at stake, the Indians aren’t looking past the Cardinals.
“Any time you play a rival, you can throw the records out,” Browne said. “We’ve got to play better offensively.”
The Indians beat Clark County, 15-13, last year at home to wrap up the district title.