FOOTBALL PREVIEWS: Upset-minded Caston visits No. 3 Carroll

Oct. 27—Caston faces a second straight undefeated team on the road in sectional play.

The Comets (2-8) travel to No. 3-ranked Carroll (10-0) tonight for a Class A Sectional 43 semifinal game. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Flora.

Caston is coming off a 34-28 win over previously undefeated and No. 7-ranked North White.

"It's North White, Round 2. They're undefeated as well and they've dominated teams," Caston coach Chris Ulerick said. "We've certainly got our work cut out for us. But I think if the kids go in with the mindset that they did against North White then they have a chance to move on. There's not many people in the state that gave us a chance last week and those same people are still not going to give us a chance this week. Luckily we do get to play and the kids have a say in how hard and what kind of attitude they're going to bring to the game. If they bring the right one I think they can compete. We certainly played a murderous row of a football schedule this year. Playing good competition is nothing that we're not used to seeing."

In the Comets' 10 games this season, eight of their opponents have been ranked in the top 10 at some point in time in their respective classes.

They've faced Class 3A No. 9 Knox and Class 2A No. 5 LaVille, which knocked off Andrean last week.

Carroll is a back-to-back sectional champion. The Cougars recorded their first perfect regular season since 2016. They avenged their only regular season loss of last year with a 24-0 win over Sheridan in Week 9, which was their closest game of the season thus far.

Senior fullback Keegan Ellis is the Cougars' go-to player. Senior wingback Griffin Viney and junior quarterback Luke Tanner are also playmakers.

"Ellis is their focal point," Ulerick said. "But Viney is super fast, he runs the edge really well and they are able to throw the ball. They can hit you on the edge, they can hit you with some power with their fullback. Then they are able to throw the football. So they can do it one of three ways and whichever way you're shutting down they can usually find a way with the two games we've got on film, they've been able to find a way to move the ball through the air as well. So we're going to have to buckle down and make sure the game plan is solid and make sure it is easy enough so the kids can digest it and go out and execute it on Friday."

Ulerick said a turning point of the Comets' season is when they moved senior Kyle Roudebush to tight end to lead their blocking.

"He was a wing and we just put his hand in the dirt. He was caving in whatever side we were running to with him, he was just caving in," Ulerick said following Friday's win over North White. "He was definitely a game changer, that's probably my fault to not move him sooner."

Senior Grant Yadon is a top threat either out of the backfield receiving a shotgun snap or as the top target for sophomore quarterback Gavin Mollenkopf.

The Comets also have a pair of younger backs who have stepped up this season. Sophomore fullback Jabez Yarber is their leading rusher with 613 yards and six touchdowns. He had 112 yards and a TD in the win over North White. He had 208 yards and three TDs in a Week 7 win over Culver.

Freshman wingback Landen Rigney has stepped up in recent weeks. He had his first 100-yard game in Week 8 against Winamac and is coming off a 108-yard, two-touchdown performance against North White.

"Landen Rigney has certainly come on throughout the course of the year," Ulerick said. "He's kind of grown up and at the beginning of the year we didn't use him a whole lot. That's just the fact that going from the eighth grade to a freshman and that jump and that gap and he wasn't quite ready. But as the course of the year has rolled on he has certainly bloomed and blossomed into a good football player.

"Jabez Yarber at our fullback spot, he kind of took over late in the year last year much like what Landen did this year, Jabez was able to do the same thing last year for us as a freshman. Those two kids run the ball hard, they know what's expected of them. If we can give them a crease those two, especially Landen, he can take it the distance at any point in time. I don't know how many touchdowns Landen has scored on the year but he got his first one late in the year and he's just continued to score each week. It's certainly nice to have young kids that are able to jump in and take over that role and excel."

SEEGER (7-3) AT CASS (6-4)

It's the first-ever matchup in football between the two tradition-rich football programs.

The Class 2A Sectional 34 semifinal game is set to kickoff at 7 p.m. tonight at Owens Memorial Field.

Cass coach Clayton Mannering said the Patriots look to be a tough out.

"We've watched a lot of film on them. It's hard to prepare the two schools because we don't have any common opponents," Mannering said. "They did play Benton Central twice this year who was in our conference a year ago and they beat them pretty soundly the first time and then played them close last Friday which to me just shows that it's hard to get teams out in the sectional. But they are very similar to us. I think they have some good skill kids, they play physical. They're about 50/50 run/pass. Defensively they'll be a handful. They play four defensive linemen and four linebackers and they're going to try to make it hard for us to run the ball."

The Kings are playing their best football of the season. They're on a three-game win streak with lopsided wins over Manchester, Southwood and Delphi. They are 5-0 this year at home.

"I think the biggest difference from the beginning of the season is our offense is starting to become very consistent," Mannering said. "We're undefeated when we score 30 points or more this year and we are 0-4 when we can't score 30. But each of the last three weeks we've been able to do that. When we run our offense the way we should we end up eating up a lot of clock and taking the other team's offense off the field. So it helps our defense out in turn. Our offensive line has really progressed this season. They were young and inexperienced at the beginning of the year but they're coming into their own and our backs are running hard and our quarterback is making good decisions."

Junior fullback Trevor Rowe is the Kings' leading rusher with 822 yards and 9 TDs. Senior wingback Cooper Frey has 756 yards and 11 TDs. Senior quarterback LJ Hillis has passed for 515 yards and 8 TDs. Frey is the leading receiver with 16 catches for 233 yards and 5 TDs. Senior linebacker Eli Martin leads the defense with 56 tackles.