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Rough stretch for Cougars

September 17, 2018

New Prairie’s 2-0 start was always going to be an afterthought with their stretch of games that followed before their end of September showdown with 6A power Penn.

After dropping an out-of-conference showdown with Andrean, the Cougars got Chase Ketterer back and won on the road at South Bend St. Joe. But after Friday’s heartbreaker in a 27-21 loss to Mishawaka, things are only going to get harder.

Two-way star Jacob Tuttle missed the entire second half against Mishawaka. Injuries and exhaustion have bit the Cougars through the first five weeks.

”It’s been hard at times for us not having everybody,” Cougars coach Russ Radtke said. “We’ve had Danny [Tyler] in and out because he’s had some nagging injuries and stuff, but you just gotta work through it and get guys to step up to make plays for us.”

Team player: Michael Bradford was the lead back in Michigan City’s running attack through the first four games, but ceded the role Friday to Lyric McFarrin, who exploded for 286 yards and four touchdowns. Bradford moved to the H-back position position, working largely as a lead blocker while picking up 49 yards on seven carries.

“That would be tough for some kids to switch roles, but he’s a high-character kid,” Wolves coach Phil Mason said of Bradford. “He just wants to play football. He’s a sophomore. He’ll get his chances.”

Double time: McFarrin’s happy playing both ways, though he admitted it’s a conditioning challenge that he’ll have to continue to address. He was on the coverage on defense for Merrillville’s first touchdown, an 83-yard pass to Armani Glass in the third quarter.

“Playing two ways, I’ve got to eat better,” he said. “That can’t happen. Personally, I’m more mad about getting beat on the post for the touchdown. Scoring’s great and all, but I can’t give up that touchdown.”

Passing fancy: A robust passing game aided South Central, propelling it to a 35-22 home victory over River Forest on Friday night.

An especially effective connection between quarterback Kyle Schmack and halfback Jake Osburn allowed the Satellites to post their first Greater South Shore Conference win of the campaign.

“Jake (Osburn)’s the fastest guy we split out there, so a lot of times, he breaks out in the open,” South Central coach Buzz Schoff said. “And Kyle (Schmack)’s vision is just so good, he’s able to see him, and he’s able to throw that ball right where he needs to throw it. Yeah, we run some routes to get Jake in the open, and we try to get Jake to the DB we want to kind of pick on a little bit. But those guys, those are two of our best players, so that’s who we’re going to count on.”

Schmack and Osburn hooked up on a 37-yard pass, setting up the team’s first touchdown in the second quarter.

Five of Schmack’s nine completions went to Osburn.

Schmack finished 9-of-14 for 171 yards, and Osburn had 101 yards receiving on five receptions.

Zack Christy also made a tremendous 41-yard catch, when he jumped up high in the middle of the field and snatched the ball away from a defender. That led to an S.C. touchdown late in the first half.

‘D’ rises up: After surrendering 16 points in the second quarter, the Satellites defense came alive after half.

They held River Forest to a mere six points in the second stanza.

“That was scored on a screen,” Schoff said. “We knew going into film they were a screen team, and (Ingots coach) Joe O’Connell has always ran screens good, even when he was at Merrillville. I told them every day, ‘They’re going to run a screen and you can’t get up the field.’ Lo and behold, the three times they ran a screen, we were up the field. But you’re not going to win a game on a screen.”

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