It’s not often a team makes a quarterback change going into the playoffs, but that’s exactly what the Owensboro Catholic Aces did Friday — and it worked out for coach Jason Morris, as his team is moving on to the second round of the Class 2A State Playoffs for the 11th-straight year.
Junior Braden Mundy helped the Aces in a multitude of ways as they took down McLean County 40-22 Friday night at Steele Stadium.
“He’s obviously an exceptional athlete,” Morris said. “He’s getting the ball in his hands every single snap. We just made a decision that we’re going to run the football through the playoffs and stop the run. We feel like we have a really strong defense. We’re going to continue to be balanced as we can be on offense but we feel like championship teams can run the football. We just felt like if we’re going to go with that approach then Braden Mundy was the right guy for it.”
The Aces scored on their opening drive and held a 7-0 lead after the first frame but that’s the only lead they would need as Catholic led wire-to-wire.
Friday’s game was McLean County’s first since they fell to the Aces 37-0 back on Oct. 2, as they missed several games due to Covid-19.
“Hats off to McLean and condolences to those seniors,” Morris said. “I truly hate it for those guys, only getting to play four games this year in the middle of this pandemic. Hats off to them, they fought hard the entire time.”
The Cougars handed Catholic a second-round exit last season but Morris said that didn’t drive his team going into this year’s first round.
“At this point we’re focused on just every week, it had nothing to do with revenge,” he said. “It was just us playing McLean County and we’re going to try and play our way, and that’s as fast as we can play every single snap against whoever the opponent is. It had nothing to do with revenge. We’re just taking care of ourselves.”
The Aces don’t know who or where they’ll play next week as the district’s top seed, Hancock County, plays Todd County Central at 5 p.m. today.
If Hancock wins, Catholic is on the road next week. If the Rebels upset the Hornets, the Aces will have another home game at Steele Stadium.
No matter who the opponent, Morris said there’s one aspect they have to clean up.
“Penalties were killers tonight,” he said. “We get a 15-yard gain, next play would be a holding penalty or we get a 12-yard gain, the next play would be a false start. Obviously, the three weeks rust. Can’t have excuses, no excuses. We’ve got to go to work and just clean up some of the mental mistakes.”
Despite limited capacity, the Catholic fans made their voices heard as the Aces cheerleaders were also on the sidelines Friday night.
Morris said it was good to have a bigger crowd for their opening round.
“We’re so blessed here at Owensboro Catholic to have a stadium like this to play at,” he said. “We literally sold 20% of our seats tonight and that shows you what kind of crowd you can have when that 20% actually shows up. We sold 20% all year long but tonight, they showed out. Hats off to our fans for showing up tonight and we appreciate that.”
Catholic will play the winner of Hancock/Todd next week in the second round of the KHSAA Class 2A State Playoffs.