At one point, Floyd Central football was hot, winning four straight games. Now it is not, losing three in a row. September gains have been erased by October pains.
If the Highlanders can restart the fire, they can still salvage some desirable goals. They need momentum, starting with a reversal of their current trend, to propel them toward clinching a winning season and competing for a sectional championship.
Beating county rival New Albany would certainly accomplish that. Floyd Central (4-4) will seek its third straight win over New Albany (3-5) when it visits Buerk Field on Friday.
The reasons for Floyd Central’s skid can be traced to two areas. The first is competition. The Highlanders have lost to Class 5-A No.2 Columbus East, Bedford North Lawrence, and surprising Jennings County, the top three teams in the Hoosier Hills Conference.
The second is turnovers. The Highlanders have twice as many as their opponents. They had three against the Stars (two that were converted into fourth-quarter touchdowns during a 28-21 loss) and three more against the Panthers.
“We’ve ran into some good teams,” Floyd coach Brian Glesing said. “That’s the biggest issue.
“We have to get the running game going. That’s the big thing. We rely a lot on the running game, and we’ve been out of sync, whether it’s a missed assignment, a turnover, a penalty. We threw the ball 25 times last week, and that’s out of our character.”
Glesing has always been a run-first, run-second coach. Floyd’s 22 passing attempts last week represent almost a third of the season total. The Highlanders, led by Brandon Striegel’s 529 rushing yards, run the ball 80 percent of the time. They make no secret of that.
“That style of football is great,” New Albany coach Sean Coultis said. “If you run the ball well, and don’t turn it over, and play sound defense, and you’re physical, you should be in every single game with a chance at the end. That style of football is very sound. Teams have won with that forever.”
New Albany, which has lost two straight, is still fighting through growing pains with a young team. But the Bulldogs are still dangerous, with sophomore speedsters Rondale Moore and Darquan Richardson in the backfield.
“They get their best athletes in position to make plays,” Glesing said. “They get Moore the ball any way they can. He’s as good of an athlete as there is in the conference. We have to be able to stop him.”
“We do have some great weapons, but the thing we keep talking to our offense about is blocking,” Coultis said. “Anybody is that much better when people block. That’s so important. Every time we have a breakdown on offense, somebody didn’t block. Every time we have success, people are up there blocking.”
Ending the regular season with a victory in a rivalry game would rejuvenate both teams. The Highlanders are eyeing Class 5-A Sectional 16 as winnable, and the Bulldogs will face a rematch with Jeffersonville in the first round of Class 6-A Sectional 8.
“A winning season is at stake for us,” Glesing said. “There’s a lot on the line. Our kids understand that. They want to get back to playing Floyd Central football.”
“We would not be overlooking whoever we’re playing in Week 9,” Coultis said. “Whether you’re playing a rivalry game or not, you can’t look forward to the postseason yet. All our focus is on Floyd Central. It’s a big game for both teams.”
Justin Sokeland can be contacted at email@example.com