The Owensboro football team is trying to win its first region championship since the reclassification to Class 5A in 2015, but they’re up against stiff competition.
The Red Devils (10-2) take on an undefeated South Warren (12-0) squad that’s largely blown out the competition, though OHS is riding their own eight-game win streak.
Most recently, the Devils broke a 14-game losing streak against Bowling Green, winning 28-21 at home last Friday. Head coach Jay Fallin said he let the team enjoy such a meaningful win, but the players knew they had to quickly get focused on the next opponent.
“They’ve demonstrated the kind of maturity that it takes to celebrate a victory and simultaneously move on to the next game throughout the course of the year,” he said. “This week was no different.”
The Spartans rolled through the first two rounds of the playoffs and are coming off a 55-21 victory over Grayson County. It was only the second time all season South Warren has allowed more than 17 points, as their defense has locked down opponents each week.
The Spartans have recorded four shutouts and five additional games allowing two or fewer touchdowns.
“Their defense is very good,” Fallin said. “They play within their scheme and they play very hard. We’ll have to really execute well on offense.”
Owensboro’s defense has put up impressive performances of their own during the win streak, allowing three touchdowns or less in each outing.
Fallin said the South Warren offense can’t be taken lightly either, and the Spartans perform well in all aspects of the game.
“They’re a very good team,” he said. “They’re senior-laden, so they’ve got a lot of experience. They’ve got some incredible playmakers.”
Their defense is led by Notre Dame-commit Jacob Lacey, who’s recorded 10 sacks on the year, while Pete Cross and Tre Teague have combined for 200 tackles
Clayton Bush has seven interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns, and he’s also a big factor on offense. He’s caught 25 passes for 530 yards and nine touchdowns.
The offense is driven by quarterback Gavin Spurrier, who has gone 139-for-198 for 1,977 yards and 33 touchdowns with only three interceptions. Leading rusher Cameron Harrison has carried the ball 134 times for 1,184 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Owensboro’s offensive attack has been a little more pass-heavy, as quarterback Will Warren has completed 204-of-335 passes for 3,090 yards and 37 touchdowns with 11 interceptions.
Most of the passes of gone to a trio of receivers in Monte Owsley (52 receptions, 1,066 yards, 11 touchdowns), Tyren Hayden (48 receptions, 666 yards, 6 touchdowns) and Treyvon Tinsley (32 receptions, 459 yards, 10 touchdowns).
Owsley has also been a threat out of the backfield, earning 712 yards and 10 touchdowns on 67 carries. Running back Trey Green has added 785 yards and 10 touchdowns on 97 rushes.
Defensively, the Red Devils will rely on Austin Gough, who leads the team with 131 tackles to go along with two fumble recoveries and an interception returned for a touchdown.
Statistically, the teams match up well, so getting on the board first could be key. Eliminating mistakes will also be important, as it could come down to whichever team can play the cleaner game.
“When you get to this point in the postseason, particularly in Class 5A, there aren’t going to be any opponents who aren’t very tough,” Fallin said. “We know that coming into it, and we just have to execute and play our game at a high level. Against a team you’re unfamiliar with, you want to come out with an efficient start on both sides of the ball.”