Shelbyville’s wing-T offense caught fire Friday against Pendleton Heights in the final regular season game of the football season.
The Golden Bears, with a revamped offensive line that did not feature a senior, racked up 314 yards of offense, but just one touchdown.
That allowed the visiting Arabians to pull away for a 35-7 victory that left Shelbyville 1-8 going into the postseason.
“Offensively, we are growing,” said Shelbyville head coach Brian Glesing. “When people talk about balanced offense, they think of run and pass but when you are a wing-T team like us, balance means your wingbacks get the ball, your fullbacks get the ball, your running backs get the ball and you use a lot of misdirection.”
Five different backs finished the game with positive yardage, led by fullback Luke Jackson’s 101-yard performance.
“That was encouraging,” said Glesing of the more than 300 yards rushing behind an offensive line that featured one freshman (Jack West), two sophomores (Brayden Schultz, Michael Creech) and two juniors (Jacob Harker, Bayler Ward). “That helps keep the score down too when you have the ball. We have to fix our red zone issues. We’re still a young football team and inexperienced. If we can punch a couple in there in the red zone, that helps us out. We have to figure out a way to get that done.
“And we still have to be more efficient in the passing game. We have to be better in the passing game, that’s pass protection, throwing and catching – all three facets of that aspect of the game.”
Outside of the red zone Friday, Shelbyville ran 49 plays and averaged 6.4 yards per play. Inside the Pendleton Heights’ 20-yard line, Shelbyville averaged 2.8 yards per play over 12 plays.
That offensive production is enough to keep Shelbyville competitive going into its postseason opener against Bedford North Lawrence (5-4). Glesing wants to see more of that wing-T production and add a few defensive stops that could result in an upset at McKeand Stadium.
“We have to be better defensively,” said Glesing. “When we beat New Castle, we were getting stops. When we played Rushville, we got a couple of stops. We have to get stops. We can’t just let them do whatever they want. We have to do better defensively.”
The Stars roll into Shelbyville Friday riding a wave of momentum created with a 21-7 victory over Columbus East in the regular-season finale. The win secured Bedford North Lawrence a share of the Hoosier Hills Conference title – its first since 2006.
“They are an interesting team,” said Glesing. “They won their conference, or at least tied for it. It’s hard to get a judge on the teams they’ve played compared to the teams we’ve played. It’s hard to get a feel for them. I think they are very athletic and a solid football team.”
After losing to Seymour 27-6 on Sept. 16, the Stars closed out the schedule with wins in three of its final four games. Bedford North Lawrence and Seymour shared the HHC title.
The Stars’ other losses this season came to Class 4A, No. 13 Martinsville, Bloomington North and Madison – Shelbyville’s preseason jamboree opponent.
The Stars are led by junior quarterback Memphis Louden, who has thrown for more than 1,200 yards this season and 10 touchdowns. Louden also is the team’s second leading rusher at 634 yards.
“They have a quarterback that wants to run,” said Glesing. “A lot of option then go play action and go down the field.”
Sophomore Cal Gates leads the team in rushing with 719 yards and five touchdowns.
Shelbyville will have to match up with four wideouts – seniors Dylan Nikirk (25 receptions, 437 yards) and Kole Bailey (26 receptions, 226 yards) and juniors Trace Rynders (21 receptions, 223 yards) and Ryker Hughes (18 receptions, 263 yards, six TDs).
The Stars’ offense has scored more than 21 points in a game just once this season. It averages 18.6 ppg offensively and allows 18.9 ppg defensively.
“I think they have the ability to explode,” said Glesing. “You just look at them on film and they have the ability to all of a sudden break out.”
Defensively, senior defensive back Collin Whitaker leads the team with 96 tackles. Senior defensive lineman Greg Gilbert has 43 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, six quarterback sacks and two forced fumbles.
With the game at McKeand Stadium, Bedford North Lawrence will play its first game this season on natural grass while Shelbyville will play its final home game on real grass. Shelbyville Central Schools board has already approved the addition of artificial turf to McKeand Stadium in the summer of 2023.
Bedford North Lawrence at Shelbyville
Game Time: 7 p.m. at McKeand Stadium in Shelbyville, Ind.
Admission: Tickets are $7 cash only at the gate.
Media coverage: 6 p.m. pregame show live from McKeand Stadium with Johnny McCrory and Mark Drake on GIANT fm (96.5 fm, 106.3 fm, 1520 am) or on the GIANT fm app.
Head coaches: Derrick Barker, 9-10 in 2nd year at Bedford North Lawrence; Brian Glesing, 2-14 in 2nd year at Shelbyville, 120-108 in 20th year overall.
2022 record: Bedford North Lawrence 5-4; Shelbyville 1-8.
2021 record: Bedford North Lawrence 4-6; Shelbyville 1-6.
Sagarin ratings: Bedford North Lawrence 48.35, 152nd overall, 35th in Class 4A; Shelbyville, 32.36, 224th overall, 49th in Class 4A.
Point spread: Bedford North Lawrence is favored by 14 points.
Sectional 23: Class 4A, No. 13 Martinsville (6-3) at Greenwood (1-8); Silver Creek (4-5) at Jennings County (3-6); and Edgewood (2-7) at Class 4A, No. 4 East Central (7-2).
Sectional 23 semifinal scenarios for Shelbyville: If Martinsville wins, Shelbyville will travel to Martinsville. If Greenwood wins, Shelbyville will travel to Greenwood.