With a win Friday at Eastern (Pekin) and a Clarksville win over Mitchell, Triton Central football could close out Class 2A, Sectional 39 at Mendenhall Field in Fairland.
That requires the Tigers (5-4) to secure a road win Friday at winless Eastern (0-6), a program that has lost 16 straight games. It will be TC’s third consecutive road game after closing out the season with a 28-13 win at Beech Grove and a 24-21 loss at Speedway.
“Our mindset is we need to play it like a championship game,” said Triton Central coach Tim Able. “From here on out, it is. We can’t just turn it on. We can’t play down to the competition.”
The Musketeers program has never experienced a winning season since its inception in 2007. A pair of 5-5 seasons in 2010 and 2011 serve as the high water mark. The program is 29-121 over 15 seasons – Triton Central is 121-53 over that same span.
Eastern’s last win came in its 2019 sectional opener, 22-0 over Union County.
“I know they run a spread offense … they like to throw a little more than they run but teams have a tendency to run on us,” said Able.
Triton Central’s offense will have three starters out on the offensive line. The program’s top two tight ends will play right tackle and left tackle Friday night.
“We will make due,” said Able. “Luckily we have the human eraser in Ray Crawford (135 carries, 916 yards, 6 rushing TDs; 19 receptions, 288 yards, 2 TDs). If they breach the line (of scrimmage), he can still get outside. He has had an amazing year considering how many cuts he has needed to find open yards.”
Brad Schultz (16 carries, 179 yards, 2 TDs; 17 receptions, 285 yards, 3 TDs) also will not be used following a strong performance at Speedway. Schultz suffered an ankle injury early in the season and Able wants him at near 100% as the postseason progresses.
“He’s been really outstanding the last two weeks,” said Able. “He is a difference maker, a game changer and I feel like this is a good week for him to recover.”
In the other Sectional 39 games Friday, Providence (4-5) is at Switzerland County (2-6); Union County (4-4) travels to Paoli (5-2); and Mitchell (3-5) is at Clarksville (2-7).