By JOSH RIZZO
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
Cardinals find right mix
South Shelby football coach Rob Wilt has finally found the right combo. After making several switches on the offensive line and in the backfield, the Cardinals snapped a three-game losing streak with a 27-0 win over Monroe City last Friday.
"We looked like a whole different football team," Wilt said. "We played a lot more physical and our defense played really well. Offensively, we could play better up front, but I think we're going in the right directions."
The Cardinals (2-3) rushed for 222 yards, including 114 from Trace Windsor, who had his first 100-yard performance since South Shelby's 23-20 win over Louisiana to start the season.
Wilt attributes the turnaround to the changes working.
"Now, we can focus on improving each week instead of finding who needs to go where," Wilt said. "We can focus on getting better. We played physical football and playing downhill on defense."
Wolves still eyeing playoffs
Mike Giles feels if the Pleasant Hill football team could have gotten the ball back, things may have been different against Winchester West Central last Friday. Alex Rodhouse scored on a 7-yard run and the Wolves cut the lead to 24-16 with 2 minutes, 52 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Cougars then went on a drive that sucked up 10 minutes.
"We're a split-veer option team, and our option was starting to take off," Giles said. "They were having trouble stopping that."
Pleasant Hill (2-3) has lost three straight and faces a very important stretch to keep its playoff hopes alive. This week, the Wolves will travel to North Greene (2-3), then host Calhoun (1-4) before traveling to Unity (1-4).
Pleasant Hill is looking to make its first playoff appearance since 2009.
"We are working to eliminate all the mistakes we've been making," Giles said. "The last two games, we haven't played as well as far as mistakes. Our effort was good, we just weren't finishing things like we need to."
Not afraid of short field
Brown County has a dynamic kick return game, and Central coach Brad Dixon didn't want to get burned. So last Friday, the Panthers used squib kicks to limit the Hornets' return opportunities.
While it resulted in good field position at times for Brown County, the Hornets didn't have any long returns.
"We're still perfecting it every week," Dixon said. "We stayed after practice with our kicker Monday night and worked on it for 20 minutes. Monday, when we're only in helmets, we work on special teams and lifting. We also have probably 15-20 minutes per practice devoted to special teams."
Central kicker Andrew Shake normally fakes an onside kick and pulls back. Dixon said whether or not they onside the ball is predetermined. Dixon pointed to last season's state quarterfinal win over DuQuoin where the Panthers onside kicked after taking a 14-7 lead and scored a touchdown en route to a 35-28 win.
"It's something we call before," Dixon said. "Any time in a game where we think they have a good return game like Brown County does, we're going to try and squib it and make sure an upback gets it. ... There are a few times I've called for an onside kick at the last second when I saw something."