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Tonight, Gophers face state-ranked Knights

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VICTORY SONG: Clinton Prairie serenaded the student section with the school song after beating Frontier in the sectional last weekend and hope to do the same after tonight’s game at Lafayette Central Catholic.
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KADE ON THE RUN: Clinton Prairie quarterback Kade Osborn went 65 yards on this draw play at the end of the first quarter of last weekend’s 54-6 win over Frontier to set up a touchdownthat made it 20-0 Gophers. Osborn rushed for 152 yards against the Falcons adding 180 yards through the air.
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PETERS PULLS IT IN: Clinton Prairie defensive back Kaleb Peters pulled in this fourth-quarter pass by Frontier’s Brooks Sailors for an interception in the Gophers’ 54-6 sectional win last week.

BY ANDREW KRULL - akrull@ftimes.com

Clinton Prairie gets its biggest state football tournament test so far when it visits state-ranked Lafayette Central Catholic tonight in a Class A Sectional 42 matchup.

“They are a very good team in a very good conference,” Prairie head coach Raymond Jones said. “They have a really good quarterback and some skill guys and they’re pretty quick up front. We’re excited to play a really good team for a chance to get to the sectional championship.”

Tonight’s game starts at 7 p.m. and was moved to tonight from Friday due to the Lafayette Central Catholic girls soccer team playing in the state championship last night. 

The Knights started the season 1-3 but have since run off six straight wins, including last week’s 40-6 victory over Clinton Central. Early in the season Central Catholic relied mostly on the arm of sophomore quarterback Clark Barrett, but has mixed in the run more during the winning streak with senior Ky Schrader.

“They played some teams that they had a little more success against (running against recently),” Jones said. “They were balanced. They do a good job of mixing it up with the run and pass offensively. Defensively, they are quick and all over the place and kind of pin their ears back and come and get ya.”

Schrader has rushed for 677 yards and six touchdowns on 140 carries this season with just under 600 of those yards coming during the Knights’ winning streak. Still, Barrett is the primary force in Central Catholic’s offense completing 139-261 passes for 1,793 yards and 21 touchdowns against nine interceptions.

“He’s big, 6-(foot) 5,” Jones said. “He’s got a big arm and is very accurate so he can throw it all over the place. The secondary is going to be in for a good test and have a chance to play back some.”

Last week against Clinton Central, Barrett completed 16 of 23 passes for 229 yards and four touchdowns, while Schrader ran for 79 yards on 11 carries. Senior Daniel Roach was Barrett’s primary target catching seven balls for 107 yards and two TDs with senior Reece Buche making five receptions for 59 yards and two more TDs.

For the season, Roach has 50 catches for 739 yards and seven touchdowns, while Buche has caught 41 passes for 454 yards with six TDs. Seniors Schrader and Kyle Onken each have over 200 yards receiving with sophomore Ty Buche having 103 yards on seven catches.

Prairie counters with a potent offense of its own, scoring 40.5 points a game and rushing for 305.4 yards a game.

Senior running back Jacob Baker and junior quarterback Kade Osborn continued their back-and-forth battle for the team’s rushing lead in last week’s 54-6 win over Frontier as each gained 152 yards on the ground. Osborn currently has 1,251 yards on 157 carries with 23 touchdowns while Baker has 1,254 yards on 174 with nine TDs. Senior receiver Jacob Fullerton has chipped in 261 yards on 30 carries with nine more TDs.

Osborn has also completed 88-143 passes for 1,330 yards with 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Fullerton has been his primary receiver with 38 catches for 631 yards and six TDs. Kaleb Peters (15 catches for 266 yards and six touchdowns), Coltyn Vandegriff (20, 249 and one) and Blake Richardson (11, 151 and one) have also contributed significantly in the passing game.

The Gophers (6-4) have outscored opponents 405 to 259, while the Knights (7-3) have done so 251-198. Central Catholic was ranked 8th by the Associated Press in Class A and 7th by the Indiana High School Football Coaches Association in the final regular-season poll before the tournament.

The two teams have faced just one common opponent in Clinton Central, with the Knights beating the Bulldogs, 40-6, last week and Prairie doing so, 47-13, in week 3 of the season.

Many of Prairie’s key players are the same as those who the Gophers relied on during last season’s 2-9 campaign, but Jones has seen the team’s faith in itself grow through the summer and this season.

“Our kids are confident,” he said. “The confidence is growing as to what we’re trying to do as a coaching staff and what we’re putting forth for them. They’ve done a great job of executing what we put forth and that’s kind of carried over.

“I know they are excited to play this game and ready to take on a good team.”