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High school football regular season nearing end

By B.J. Hargis
Photo by LANA STRINGER: Dugger Union running back Brandon Smith, 42, runs away from two Indiana Deaf defenders during a high school football game at Dugger last weekend. Saturday the Bulldogs will host Tri-County for homecoming.

Two Friday games, including a sectional preview, and Dugger Union’s annual homecoming on Saturday make up the week eight schedule for the three Sullivan County football teams.
North Central (7-0, 2-0) at Wood Memorial (0-4, 0-3) — North Central, ranked eighth in the latest Class A poll, will be looking to stay undefeated when they play a Southwest Conference game on the road.
The Thunderbirds are coming off a 54-24 victory over Riverton Parke. Dawson rushed for 295 yards and four scores and Blake Chatman added three TDs and 103 yards rushing.
But coach Travis Nolting was displeased with four lost fumbles and eight penalties.
“We have not played well lately,” he said. “We are still trying to find a way to put together four quarters of good football.
“We cannot overlook anybody. We have a chance to do something really special, but we can’t get there unless we go all out in practice on every play. Part of that falls on me, but we have to be more disciplined and diligent in our preparation each week.”
Wood Memorial is just playing a partial schedule this year. They have lost all four games, including three in the conference.
They have only scored 30 total points this season and have allowed opponents to score over 38.
They are coming off of a 41-0 loss to North Daviess last week.
The T-birds have won five in a row against the Trojans. Wood Memorial’s last win came in 2010, a 36-32 win at North Central.
The Thunderbirds have an 11-6 series advantage.
Kickoff at Oakland City is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday.
West Vigo (4-3, 2-2) at Sullivan (6-1, 4-0) — In a twist of fate, the Vikings and Golden Arrows will meet on Friday in a meeting in the West Division of the Western Indiana Conference and then two weeks later also meet at Portland Field in the first round of Class 3A Sectional 30.
Sullivan has already clinched the West with a 63-20 win at South Putnam last week. The Vikings lost to North Putnam 28-21 on a last-second score.
“West Vigo is a very physical football team,” said Sullivan coach Blaine Powell. “It will be a hard fought game.
“Coach (Jeff) Cobb does a good job with the Vikings. They are well coached and his kids play very hard. It will be a good challenge for us going into the championship game.”
Sullivan, who is scoring over 42 points per game while yielding 22.4, has won five games in a row since a two-point loss at Linton on Aug. 25.
Jack Conner continues to have a standout first season as the starring quarterback.
He leads the team in passing and rushing. He has combined for 32 total touchdowns — 20 passing and 12 rushing.
He has rushed for 579 and thrown for 1,841 yards as he has completed 125 of 167 passes.
Senior Dakota Caton caught three TDs from Conner. The duo has hooked up for 46 receptions, 714 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Jackson Shake, Daylan Curtis, Chris Taylor, Kyle Vernelson and Karter Vernelson have combined for 60 catches, 1,015 yards and seven TDs.
Wes Bedwell leads the team in tackles with 58 and is second in rushing with 438 yards on 70 carries and six TDs.
JC Wallace has 52 tackles.
The Arrows are still playing without linebacker and fullback Nathan Queen.
“The thing I love about this team is they never quit,” said Powell. “No matter the situation, they continue to battle and find a way to overcome adversity.
“It also will be senior night for us. Just like last, this group of seniors has been part of more wins that just about any group of seniors to come through the program. They won 10 games last year, eight games the year before and already six this year. It will be a special night.”
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday.
Tri-County (6-1) at Dugger Union (0-7) — Tri County will make the 149-mile trip to Sullivan County on Saturday to face the Bulldogs on homecoming.
The Cavaliers, ranked No. 15 in the IFCA Coaches Poll, have won six in a row since beginning the season with a 40-25 loss to Carroll (Flora).
They are averaging 45.7 points per game while allowing 15.4.
Coach Sam Zachery is in his first season in charge of Tri-County.
In a 55-7 win over Frontier, the Cavaliers took control by scoring 28 points in the second quarter.
Senior quarterback Dalton Justice and junior running back Sam Getz had standout performances on offense.
Getz rushed 21 times for 158 yards and one score.
Justice rushed 11 times for 126 yards and three TDs. He also threw for 154 yards and three TDs.
Kale Lawson hauled in two TD passes and Grant Melchi had another for a touchdown.
Their defense, which uses a 3-3-5 formation, limited Frontier to 134 yards of offense, a lot of it after the game was decided.
Lawson had two interceptions and Getz returned one 55 yards for a touchdown.
“They are a very good team with a lot of weapons,” said Dugger Union Kyle Foli. “They will present a very good test for our defense.”
The Bulldogs are still searching for their first win of 2017 after a 66-6 loss at home to Indiana Deaf last week.
Brandon Smith scored the only TD for Dugger Union, who is scoring 9.4 points per game while yielding 39.3.
“It has been the same story almost every week,” said Foli. “We have penalties that kill drives and we have way too many turnovers.
“The boys are working hard and trying to get better.”
The two teams met last year for the first time, with Tri-County winning 58-8.
Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. The homecoming festivities will be approximately at 1 p.m.

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