As if Preble Shawnee High School football coach Matt Hopkins needed more balls to juggle during a brutal section of the schedule.
The 4-1 Arrows are at the end of a trio of games that tripped up their 2016 season, it’s homecoming, and late September has been feeling more like late July.
And now 4-1 Carlisle comes calling Friday at 7 p.m. in a game with huge implications in the Southwestern Buckeye League Buckeye Division and Division V, Region 20 races.
“We’ve had early releases because of the temperature, so it has thrown everyone’s schedule off,” Hopkins said. “Now we have the temperature and spirit week and homecoming … just a lot of adversity. But they are doing their best to handle everything and stay focused.”
Hopkins’ squad knows how focused it has to remain.
Shawnee was off to a 3-0 start in 2016 before running into Madison, Milton-Union and Carlisle.
The three-game stretch ended 0-3 with a 41-8 loss at Carlisle, and the Arrows won three of their last four.
“This is a big stretch for us,” Hopkins said. “We are trying to survive it as much as we can. Every year we have to go through this battle.”
Shawnee will be facing an Indians team that enters on a roll.
Carlisle has won four straight after opening the season with a loss against Franklin and sits atop the Buckeye Division at 2-0. Still, the Indians are 10th in the Region 20 Harbin computer ratings.
Quarterback Jake Moore is a dual threat for Carlisle, throwing for 382 yards and three scores while rushing for 301 yards and five touchdowns. D.J. Chambers has carried 37 times for 332 yards and five scores.
“Carlisle is athletic and physical, and if D.J. Chambers gets a step on you, he’s gone,” Hopkins said. “We better have our guys ready to go. Hopefully, we don’t have the same team show up that we did against Madison.”
The Mohawks handed Shawnee its lone loss (47-0), but the Arrows still rank fifth in Region 20.
The Arrows mix things up a little more on offense.
Eli Gibson leads the SWBL in rushing with 901 yards on 124 carries, while Austin Moore is second in the league in receiving, hauling in 35 passes for 503 yards. Quarterback Jake Green has completed 49 of 84 throws for 634 yards and six scores without an interception as Shawnee averages 329.8 yards per game.
“Everybody is going to have to do their jobs and play as hard as they can,” Hopkins said. “We have to stay focused for four quarters.
“There is a lot that goes with this game with the division and playoffs. Right now we are all beating up on each other, and we need to line up with our A game.”
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