By Nathan Hutchinson
Register Sports Editor
Last week’s loss to Tates Creek in the district opener put Madison Central in an uncomfortable position.
Because of that 51-32 setback, the Indians will likely have to win their final two games of the regular season to get the opportunity to open postseason play at home.
“These are very important (games),” Central coach Bert Browne said. “Having a home playoff game in the first round would be great, but with this young of a team it would be massive.”
The Indians (1-7, 0-1 district) will look to snap a six-game losing streak when they take on district rival Lafayette (2-6, 1-0 district) today in Richmond.
Kickoff for the Homecoming game is set for 7:30 p.m.
Regardless of the outcome of the next two games, the Indians are automatically guaranteed a spot in the Class 6A Playoffs because they play in a four-team district.
Only the top two teams in each district will play host to first-round playoff games.
So, if Central finishes in third or fourth place, the team would likely have to face Scott County or Henry Clay — teams they have already lost to this season — on the road in the opening round of the postseason.
“We’ve got to come out and win these two games,” Browne said.
After today’s showdown with Lafayette, Central wraps up the regular-season next week at home against Clark County (1-6, 0-1).
The Indians certainly had a chance to beat Tates Creek (5-3, 1-0) in Lexington. Central scored in its first possession of the second half, which cut the Commodores’ lead to just 22-20.
Creek scored on the ensuing kickoff and then added 22 fourth-quarter points to pull away for a lopsided victory.
“We’ve played hard all year,” Browne said. “It’s frustrating to have such a young football team, then get really banged-up.”
Central got four touchdowns from running back Johan Williams (three rushing, one on a kickoff return). The sophomore had a career-best 157 yards rushing on a career-high 26 carries and had 358 yards of total offense.
So far this season, Williams has rushed for 717 yards on 127 carries (5.64 yards a carry) with seven touchdowns. He rushed for more than 100 yards in three of the past four games.
Picking up yards on the ground might be the key to beat the Generals.
Lafayette is allowing 262 yards on a game rushing and 36 points a game.
“We’ve run the ball well and (QB Zach Hardin) can throw it,” Browne said. “Of course we want to be able to establish the run and do some play-action stuff. Hopefully, that will get some guys open. But, running the ball is the priority.”
Lafayette defeated Central in Lexington last season and went on to win the district title. The Generals lost a deep senior class from that team, but still have plenty of young talent at the skill positions.
“They still have a lot of speed and a lot of size,” Browne said of the Generals. “They have a big, big offensive line. Speed kills. Whether its young speed or old speed, it kills. You can make a lot of mistakes when you are fast and you can make up for them. They are dangerous.”
The Generals snapped a three-game losing streak with a 30-20 win last week at home over Clark County.
Lafayette’s offense has been led by a pair of running backs — junior Malik Robinson (633 yards, six TDs) and senior Kylan Nelson (563 yards, five TDs).
Quarterback Clay Bolin had thrown for 765 yards this season with five touchdowns and eight interceptions.
“Hopefully, they will do what they have been coached to do and won’t lose their minds and will take of business,” Browne said.