By J.D. McKay
We just beat Jennings County. Now our eyes are set on our first big postseason matchup with our inner-district rival, the New Albany Bulldogs. However, the Dogs are without their best player, Julien Hunter, who broke his fibula vs Providence on Feb. 8.
New Albany started the season with high expectations because they had won five straight sectionals and had Hunter, who is a legit D-1 prospect. If not for a player now at IU, Hunter would have been New Albany’s best player his freshman year. But his injury lowered some expectations.
To advance to the sectional championship, first we will need to keep senior Derrick Stevenson under 10 points. Earlier this season, he scored 10 and we won, so limiting him again without the threat off Hunter to take some pressure of himself will slow their offense down. If another guy like junior Trey Hourigan or senior Landon Sprigler wants to carry New Albany’s scoring, let them. While both of these guys are talented players, I am taking senior Cobie Barnes or sophomore Jake Heidbreder to out score them in a shootout.
The next key to success is getting Heidbreder and Barnes rolling earlier on offense. New Albany does an excellent job of limiting our best two players in these games. When we beat the Dogs, our top players had close to 10 points. This year, Barnes had 12 and Heidbreder had nine. But last year, when we lost in the sectional championship, Barnes had one and now graduated Luke Gohmann had two. I think that it will be easier this time around for Barnes to get going, though. For one, New Albany does not have Romeo Langford to guard him and their next best matchup, Hunter, is injured. Even if they do contain Barnes, I think Heidbreder will be too much of a weapon to pressure Barnes the whole game and leave Heidbreder open.
Lastly, if we can keep NA from scoring 40 points like we did earlier this year, or even 50 points, we should win. Our offense is too good to not score more than 50 for a second time against the Bulldogs this year.
It is finally time to see if NA coach Jim Shannon’s words to the Courier-Journal come true: “It’s their Super Bowl because they never beat us.” However, this should be our second win against the Dogs this season. Without their best player, we should win by a bigger margin than we did previously. But do not let that stop you from showing out. As the Kilt Krew has said, we need it FAT. Final Score: FC 52- NA 41