The results tell you West Lafayette successfully focused on one game at a time while conquering its first eight opponents.
But don’t for a moment think it was easy for the Red Devils to put a Week 9 meeting with Central Catholic out of their minds. The Knights are always around: newspapers, television, social media — even game film when preparing to play common opponents.
After dispatching Twin Lakes 56-6 at Straley Field on Friday, West Lafayette could begin to focus on next week’s Hoosier Conference championship match.
“It’s just a little countdown for us — ‘Oh, this is the day we get to have fun,’ ” West Lafayette senior lineman Jeffrey Kim said. “Those are the games I consider fun, where it’s a challenge for both sides. That’s where you play actual football.”
The Red Devils led just 14-6 at halftime on Friday, then scored 28 points in the first nine minutes of the second half. Nate Marriott’s 30-yard interception return touchdown triggered that outburst and highlighted a dominant third-quarter performance for the West Lafayette defense.
Twin Lakes junior Bryce Bennington totaled 136 yards on 10 touches. West Lafayette coach Shane Fry hoped keeping track of Bennington would help his team prepare for facing dynamic Central Catholic senior Jackson Anthrop next week.
“I think we’re good at looking at offenses as a whole, figuring out their playmakers, figuring out the skill sets those playmakers have and figuring out a way to shut that down,” Marriott said. “Tonight we figured that out a little bit later in the game, but once we did it really started going our way.”
West Lafayette came out determined to run the ball, even when Twin Lakes stacked the box. But the offense stagnated throughout the first half, with both touchdowns coming on short fields. A lost fumble killed another drive. With the Red Devils moving the ball downfield in the first minute, Fabian Deleon picked off Mikey Kidwell — only the second interception he’d thrown in 190 attempts this season.
But the Red Devils hit their stride after halftime. Travis Rolle bolted for 63 yards on West Side’s first play from scrimmage after halftime and later added a 33-yard touchdown run. Kidwell connected with Jack Folkers on an 81-yard touchdown bomb.
The challenge will be finding a similar rhythm next week against a defense Fry said might be the best he’s seen — not just this season, but ever. His one-word scouting report on the Knights? “Unreal.”
Over its last six games, however, West Lafayette has held its opponents to seven or fewer points while scoring 50 or more points five times.
“Every year we both come out with two great teams with our own special skills,” Marriott said. “It makes us both better going into the playoffs. I’m excited to test ourselves and test them next week.”