Senior wideout Brian Hakes makes a great catch for the touchdown pass against Blackford last Friday. (Photo by John Rothwell)
Coming off an outstanding offensive performance at Blackford, Bellmont will be back at Bob Worthman Stadium Friday night in round two of the 3A football playoffs as they take on 6-4 Yorktown Tigers, who are fresh off of their 38-24 upset win over sectional favorite Eastbrook.
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"Every time you get to the next round of competition it's good," stated first-year BHS coach Larry Getts.
"We're taking on a team which runs the I-formation, the spread — just multiple offenses — so it's one of those things that we have to identify what they're doing and make adjustments," said Getts of the Yorktown offense.
Getts noted that Yorktown has a strong quarterback in Joe Todd and a top-notch runner in Brendon Barnes. Todd has tossed for 906 yards, hitting 53 of 125 tosses with 12 touchdowns and five interceptions. Barnes has rushed for 1,256 yards, averaging 8.0 yards per carry with 12 touchdowns, then adding nine receptions for 305 yards and two more scores.
Bellmont has been just as effective in its ground game this year, but gets it done by committee. Cody Walters missed the first two games of the year but now leads the team with 623 rushing yards (5.5 per tote) with eight touchdowns, including three last week in the 63-7 rout over Blackford. Brad Busse is second with 544 yards (7.1 per carry) with five scores, including three as well last week. Ryan Mendez has 529 yards (5.0) with six touchdowns and QB Brian Fullenkamp adds 354 yards.
Getts also lauds the recent play of Lance Shifferly, who has 197 rushing yards and 231 yards in pass receptions on 14 catches. Josh Hall has nine catches for 109 yards.
Though the Braves (4-6) have two more losses that Yorktown, the Braves could easily have matched that total, letting a couple of games get away in the fourth period early in the season.
Getts points to the win over DeKalb as key putting those losses in the rearview mirror. "We lost some close games, but we also learned how to win one we were losing against DeKalb. We were down and made some plays, made some stops and did those things that were missing in earlier games," said the BHS coach.
The Braves play in the tough NHC against all bigger schools. "We finally got to play a team our size, our school size," said Getts of the huge win last week.
"Our kids came out playing real quick and real fast, and the other factor was that their best runningback was hurt and after a while they just didn't want to play.
"We got up 21-0 real quick and we play the style of ball when it gets a little cold out or damp, you really don't want to play us," said the coach.
"Our kids played hard, did the things that were necessary and came out without any injuries, so that was a good deal all the way around."
Yorktown found itself down 21-0 to Eastbrook. "We expected to win last week, but we did play three of our best quarters of the season. Quarter one was our bad quarter," pointed out Yorktown coach Mike Wilhelm.
"We expect a dog fight with Bellmont. We both play difficult schedules, so we're both prepared," added Wilhelm. Yorktown is 5-0 on the road this season and 3-0 in non-conference games.
The BHS coach feels that both teams may have success on offense Friday, so special teams may make the difference. "The kicking game, field position, not making mistakes there, is critical," said Getts.
"A lot of those mistakes in the kicking game don't show up until you think about it after the game — a shanked punt, bad coverage, a penalty — those things add up. So field position is key, and obviously, we have to do what we do well and keep the ball away from the other people, and play good defense."
Bellmont punter Isaac Birch averages 32.8 yards per boot while the Yorktown punter averages 28 yards per kick.
Linebacker Brian Hakes leads the BHS defense with 40 solos, 32 assists, a sack and 9.5 tackles for loss. Backer Dewey Melcher is at 28 and 20 with two sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss. Lineman Ben Baker is at 31 and 12 with two sacks and eight tackles for loss.
Birch has 25 solos, 18 helps, six sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss (66 yards) in a great defensive season for the senior. Linebacker Brad Busse has 22 and 18 with five sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss.
Yorktown is led on defense by all-state outside linebacker Joe Journay, who has 77 tackles, five sacks and five tackles for loss. Defensive backs Mason Patterson and Chandler Carroll are the leading tacklers on the team.
In the other Sectional 19 semi-final, Mississinewa (8-2) will be at Western (8-2).
"We got a great opportunity so we have to take advantage of it. It's even, it's at our place ... can't get any better than that," said Getts.