Dominant Cougars shut out New Castle in tourney opener


NEW CASTLE — It was the same outcome, but nowhere near the same type of game.

For the second straight week Greenfield-Central defeated New Castle at Neal Field.

The Cougars wrapped up a plus-.500 regular season with a 27-26 win a week ago.

With even more on the line Friday, they dominated from start to finish in a quarterfinal round matchup in Class 4A Sectional 21.

The Cougars led 30-0 by halftime and went on to a 43-0 victory, setting themselves up for a sectional semifinal matchup against county rival Mt. Vernon, which won its ninth straight game by eliminating Pendleton Heights, 63-28, Friday.

Mt. Vernon is ranked No. 4 in both the Indiana Football Coaches’ Association Poll and by the The Associated Press. Greenfield-Central came into this week No. 11 in the IFCA rankings. Mt. Vernon beat Greenfield-Central in the regular season, 42-21, on Sept. 4.

With its dominating display at New Castle, Greenfield-Central improved to 7-3, tying the program’s most wins since a 7-5 season in 2010. The Cougars have guaranteed their best winning percentage since a 7-3 campaign in 2002. Last week’s sixth win was the most victories since a 6-5 mark in 2016.

“I’m speechless,” junior running back/defensive back Owen Anderson, who scored one of the touchdowns, said after his team’s seventh victory of the year. “I can’t believe it. To be a part of that is amazing.”

“These kids have put in the hard work for three years,” Greenfield-Central third-year head coach Travis Nolting said. “When I got here, I said that the coaching staff was going to do everything it could and work, and work, and work, until we got better. Our kids have bought in. The kids that are here and that are in our program have bought in and they play hard.”

The shutout was the second of the year. The Cougars beat Phelan Academy in a shortened-game on Aug. 27, 14-0.

“I think our guys took the game lightly last week a little bit,” Nolting added. “They came out (last week) and punched us in the mouth and we had trouble responding. Our guys were focused and motivated after that.

“We had a good week of practice. Honestly, I think this was the most focused I’ve seen all season on executing and coming in and getting the job done. It was impressive. Both sides of the ball, offense, defense and special teams made some big plays, too.”

Greenfield-Central’s 30-point first half was impressive, but what it did on defense was equally extraordinary.

“We have a great defensive coaching staff,” Nolting said. “We made some adjustments in the second half last week that we felt slowed them down and shut them down. We fine-tuned it and tweaked it at practice this week. (Defensive coordinator Trent) Taylor had a great game plan and our kids executed.”

Junior linebacker Brad Allen was part of four of the Cougars five first-half sacks. The defense recovered two Trojan fumbles, setting up the offense’s first two scores. The Cougars had six total sacks on the night.

“Brad Allen is a stud,” praised Nolting of his 5-11, 221-pound junior end/linebacker. “He was in my weight class a couple years ago and I told him I’d like for him to come out for football. Boy, I’m sure glad he did. He hasn’t disappointed. He has come into his own. He works hard in the weight room. He’s a great kid with great character. He does the right things. That’s they kind of player we want to have.”

“(The defensive line’s pressure) is the reason why our secondary is so good,” Anderson, who had a couple of interceptions in last week’s game, added. “There are plays where we get burnt over top and then there’s Brad in the backfield getting a sack. (The pass rush) helps us a lot more than people see.”

On offense, quarterback Rashawn Street got the Cougars on the board with a 2-yard touchdown run. It was set up after New Castle fumbled on its opening offensive series. Holder Josh VanOsdol ran in the conversion for an 8-0 lead with 6:30 remaining in the first period.

The Trojans fumbled the ensuing kickoff, as well. G-C started on the NC 20 and scored three plays later on an 8-yard run by Anderson. Logan Masters kicked the PAT for a 15-0 Greenfield advantage with 5:34 remaining in the opening quarter.

Anderson scored again on Greenfield-Central’s first second-quarter possession. It came after New Castle failed to convert on fourth down from the G-C 41. He scored on a 10-yard run. The two-point conversion failed, but the Cougars lead had grown to 21-0 with 9:03 left until halftime.

It took the Cougars eight plays to go 59 yards. Four different ball carriers took part in the series. Anderson’s run was the second longest of the drive. Street had a 14-yard run to get the ball to the NC 34.

“Our offense is ground and pound, short-yardage, five-yards per carry, get us down the field,” Anderson said. “The short field position helps us get there a lot faster.”

Thanks to a sack from Spencer Johnson and Allen and one of many bad snaps in the Trojans shotgun offense, the Cougars began their next possession, after a punt, at the New Castle 49.

Brayden Herrell went 29 yards on the first offensive play. Two plays later fullback Andrew Zellers scored on a 19-yard run. Masters’ PAT made it 28-0 with 5:23 left until the break.

The Trojans struggled much of the night with high snaps over Cooper’s head. The last one of the first half went out of the end zone giving the Cougars a safety. Prior to the bad snap, the Trojans were pushed back on a pair of Allen sacks.

The Cougars put the game in running-clock mode with the first score of the third quarter. Street took off for a 41-yard run to get to the NC 3, then ran it in on the next play. The lead, after the Masters kick, increased to 37-0 with 6:36 to go in the third.

To wrap up scoring the Cougars welcomed the return of quarterback Brodie Mayberry, who was injured early in the season. He took snaps for the first time Friday and got the Cougars last score on a 13-yard run.

Unofficially, Zellers finished with 14 carries for 122 yards. Herrell had 88 on 13 attempts and Street carried 12 times for 90 yards. Mayberry had four for 29.

The defense held Cooper to 7 of 20 passing for 100 yards. He was 4 of 14 for 21 yards until 5:44 left in the game. The rest of the yardage came on the Trojans final possession.

Greenfield-Central 43, New Castle 0

GREENFIELD-CENTRAL (7-3);15;15;7;6;—;43

NEW CASTLE (2-8);0;0;0;0;—;0

GC—Rashawn Street 2 run (Josh VanOsdol run), 6:30

GC—Owen Anderson 8 run (Logan Masters kick), 5:34

GC—Anderson 10 run (pass failed), 9:03

GC—Andrew Zellers 19 run (Masters kick), 5:23

GC—safety, New Castle bad snap out of end zone,1:03

GC—Street 3 run (Masters kick), 6:36

GC—Brodie Mayberry 13 run (kick blocked), 5:44