Prep football: Eaton next as Carlisle tries to stay alive for playoffs

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Prep football: Eaton next as Carlisle tries to stay alive for playoffs

Carlisle High School’s football team suddenly finds itself in a win-and-need-help position when it comes to the Division V, Region 20 playoffs.

The Indians took a 35-28 loss at Milton-Union last Friday, one week after getting handled by Madison 31-14, and they’ve slid to 12th in the Harbin computer ratings. The top eight make the playoffs.

“With all the access to information that kids have these days, there’s really no reason to try to hide anything from them,” said Carlisle coach Mike Brown, a playoff participant in his first six seasons as a head coach (four at Summit Country Day, two at Carlisle). “They can get online and do the math.

“The reality is, I don’t think anybody really knows what’s going to happen with how crazy the points are and who can win which games. So let’s play it out and see. I can tell you we’re excited to compete this week.”

The Indians (5-3) have two home games remaining, starting with Eaton (3-5) on Thursday night.

Brown conceded Carlisle has a bad taste in its mouth after back-to-back losses. His team has been fighting the injury bug in recent weeks, and 3-5 Milton came to play last Friday.

“We had a tough game against Madison the week before, and I think in a sense, it took a toll on us going into Milton,” Brown said. “Just from warmups you kind of saw that they were excited and ready for this game. They outplayed us. They came out and ran the ball on us, they completed passes when they needed to complete passes, and their defense really stepped up in the second half.”

Senior linebacker Braden Rauch said the Indians “underestimated” the Bulldogs and added, “We have a lot of injured players out right now. We don’t have that many backups.”

Senior quarterback Jake Moore got hurt in the Madison game. He did come back last week, though, and went the distance on offense and saw some action at free safety. Brown said he should be full-go both ways Thursday.

This is a crossover contest that doesn’t count in the Southwestern Buckeye League standings. Carlisle is in the Buckeye Division, while Eaton plays in the Southwestern Division.

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“They’re similar to our Southwestern Division opponents. They could easily be on our side of the league,” Eagles coach Brad Davis said. “They have great size. They have athleticism. They have some playmakers. They play a very aggressive style of defense. It’s another week for us.”

Eaton is coming off losses to Oakwood (29-14) and Brookville (28-20). Davis said his squad is as healthy as anybody could expect to be in Week 9, but the Eagles are still seeking consistency.

“We’re competitive. We just can’t quite get over that hump of finishing it out,” Davis said. “We’ve seen that when we hold onto the ball and take the ball away and play consistent in terms of our assignments, we’re a pretty good football team. But with the level of competition in our league, we’re not quite good enough to be inconsistent in those areas and win a lot of games.

Carlisle’s D.J. Chambers (3) looks for running room during an Oct. 6 game against visiting Madison. The Mohawks won 31-14. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

“Both teams are coming off pretty physical games. I’m guessing it’s going to be a lot more mental reps this week than physical reps. I think whoever’s more prepared in terms of film study and taking care of their bodies is going to have a little bit more success than the other team Thursday night.”

Eaton will throw the ball around a bit and has used two quarterbacks, junior Ryan Venable (58 of 92, 672 yards, two TDs) and senior Jordan Lewis (27 of 53, 205 yards, one TD). Junior Caleb Puckett (144 carries, 620 yards, five TDs) is the top rusher in the Eagles’ power spread offense.

Davis said it’s “definitely not out of the question” that both quarterbacks will play against the Indians.

Eaton’s defensive leaders, according to Davis, are senior linebacker Chase Smith (6-0, 211) and senior strong safety Aaron Tolliver (5-11, 185). The Eagles have intercepted 11 passes in their 4-2-5 defense.

“We try to mix up coverages,” Davis said. “We’re pretty aggressive. I call the defense, so I like to blitz quite a bit.”

Brown noted that Thursday is Carlisle’s Breast Cancer Awareness game. The Indians will have Senior Night against Dixie in Week 10.

Thursday’s game

What: Eaton (3-5, 1-4 SWBL Southwestern) at Carlisle (5-3, 3-2 SWBL Buckeye), 7:06 p.m.

Where: Laughlin Field, 250 Jamaica Road, Carlisle

Last year: Carlisle won 42-7

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