GREENFIELD — It’s no coincidence the Greenfield-Central Cougars’ school colors include royal blue.
With something to prove Friday night despite going a flawless 2-0 the past two weeks, the football team has rolled up its sleeves in preparation for rival Class 4A Mt. Vernon.
Maximizing each day of practice this week, the 4A Cougars have dissected hours of film and cranked up their approach with Sept. 4 circled so many times over on the calendar, the ink has yet to dry.
“The intensity has definitely gone up just because of Mt. Vernon,” senior running back Andy Kim said. “We have that chip on our shoulder, and we know we didn’t play as well as we could have the past two weeks. This game is really important to us.”
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Winless against the Marauders in four consecutive meetings, the Hoosier Heritage Conference grudge match hasn’t favored Greenfield-Central since winning back-to-back in 2010-11. The Cougars’ last victory was in overtime, 6-0.
Mt. Vernon owns a 19-12 advantage during the past 30 years. The closest Greenfield-Central has come to earning bragging rights was in a 2013 sectional, when they lost 16-13.
The other three involved double-digit margins, with the biggest blow taking place during the 2013 regular season as Mt. Vernon dominated 55-0.
The seniors remember each one, and they’ve heard the talk, which has only amplified their tunnel vision.
“We’re trying to prove everyone wrong,” senior quarterback Jeremiah Fields emphasized. “People think we’re going to be a two-win team. Beat the two Indy schools, and everyone else is going to walk all over us. We’re taking it from the underdog point of view.
“I’m ready. We’re ready.”
Through the past two weeks, the Cougars outscored Indianapolis Shortridge and Northwest by a combined 110-20 to open the season, but they aren’t skirting the obvious. Defeating two underwhelming opponents means little.
They’ve been here before, opening the 2014 campaign 2-0 before dropping five of their next six games. Since 2001, the team has entered Week 3 unbeaten five times but only once has it snowballed into a winning season.
The next seven weeks through the HHC will define exactly who they are. A 3-0 start would be something the program hasn’t witnessed in decades.
“Things are going to speed up with the conference, so we’re going to have to take another step in the right direction because it’s going to be different,” Greenfield-Central head coach Roger Dodson said. “Sometimes it’s a little hard to tell when you have overall better talent than your opponent, but now we’re getting into the conference. We’ll get a better look.”
So far one thing has become clear — the Cougars have the talent to potentially vie for the program’s fourth winning season in 13 years.
Fields has flashed high-level moments, said Dodson, as the 6-foot-2, 215-pound dual-threat has completed 12 of 16 pass attempts for four touchdowns and added a pair of rushing scores to his season totals against Northwest last week.
Kim, a 5-8, 250-pound battering ram, bulldozed to 101 yards rushing on 12 carries last Friday. He has 141 yards with three touchdowns overall and is averaging nearly 10 yards per carry.
Michael Sosnowski, who lost his entire sophomore season due to injury, has provided a burst out of the backfield, scoring the team’s first touchdown in Week 1 with a 22-yard sprint and continues to impress.
“Since our scrimmage against Mooresville, I’ve seen improvement each week,” Dodson said. “Those three guys are off to a good start, but if they’re doing well, then that means our offense line is getting better, too. Their production is a result of what we’re doing up front.”
Controlling the line of scrimmage and the clock is a point of emphasis, Dodson said, especially after watching Mt. Vernon (1-1) annihilate Marion last Friday, 50-6.
The Marauders put up a decisive 43 points in the first half as quarterback Jimmy Campbell rushed for two touchdowns — the longest at 81 yards — and passed for two more.
“They’re a good football team. They spread you out. Their quarterback can really hurt you,” Dodson noted. “He’s a tough kid and a really good athlete. He can hurt you throwing and running, so he’s a big threat.
“It’s like most games, turnovers and big plays most often determine the outcome. You have to protect the ball. … We have to keep them off the field.”
Kim believes that if they set the tone early, the Cougars have a chance to win and possibly get coach Dodson to victory No. 100, with a 99-122 record in 23 seasons overall.
It all comes down to who is more prepared.
“I think the defense is going to have to compliment the offense and time of possession is going to be very important,” Kim said. “We want to have the ball as much as we can and run the ball down their throat as much as we can.
“We want to win.”
Mount Vernon (1-1) at Greenfield-Central (2-0)
GAME TIME: 7:30 pm, at Cougar Stadium.
COACHES: Doug Armstrong, 32-15 in 5th year at Mount Vernon (Fortville), 84-71 in 15th year overall. Roger Dodson, 35-63 in 10th year at Greenfield-Central, 99-122 in 23rd year overall.
SAGARIN RATINGS: Greenfield-Central, 67.41, 93rd overall, 22nd in Class 4A. Mount Vernon (Fortville), 64.35, 118th overall, 26th in Class 4A.
LAST OUTING: Mount Vernon defeated Marion, 50-6. Greenfield-Central defeated Indianapolis Northwest, 40-20.
OPPONENTS’ RECORDS: Mount Vernon 1-3, Greenfield-Central 1-3.
SERIES LAST 30 YEARS: Mount Vernon, 19-12.
LAST MEETING: Mount Vernon (Fortville), 31-14, Sep. 5, 2014.