JOHNSTON CITY — Two offenses with dominating running games square off Saturday afternoon when the Johnston City Indians travel north to take on the state's top-ranked team in Class 2A - Decatur St. Teresa Bulldogs.
Game time is set for 3 p.m.
Both teams are perfect on the season at 12-0. This marks the most wins in school history for the Indians and the first time JC has ever advanced as far as the state semifinals.
The Tribe has scored 498 points on the season or 40.5 points per game. The defense has allowed 181 points or 15 points per game.
The team's leading rusher is senior Isiah Watson, who has amassed 1,488 yards on 169 carries (8.8 average) with 29 touchdowns. Boston Payton has carried the ball 72 times for 628 yards and seven touchdowns. Nolan Causey has tacked on 398 yards on 56 rushing attempts and has added two touchdowns.
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The Indians do not put the ball in the air all that often as senior quarterback Connor Mowery has completed only 13-of-20 passes for 359 yards and eight touchdowns with no interceptions. That is an average of 27 yards per completion. Top receiver is Keaton Fort, now back with the team after missing the last couple of weeks with a collapsed lung.
By comparison, the Bulldogs have totaled 573 points through 12 games or 47.7 points per game, while allowing 98 points or eight points per game.
Leading rusher is senior Royce Harper, who has churned out 1,322 yards on 119 carries (11.1 average) and 16 touchdowns. Jaccarion Jones has the second-most touches at 96 and has ground out 694 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Senior quarterback Joe Brummer has completed 87-of-135 passes for 1,546 yards and 20 touchdowns against only three interceptions.
Top receiver is Jeremy Walker with 21 catches for 559 yards and eight touchdowns. Matt Brummer has 18 catches for 254 yards and two scores and Brycen Hendrix has 15 catches for 216 yards and three TDs. Billy Guyse had 14 catches for 244 yards and four scores.
"We will have to get used to the speed of their skill players," said JC coach Todd Thomas. "Their tailback (Harper) is a pretty big and athletic kid. And they have other kids who can break a big play. There's a reason why they have been the No. 1-ranked team in the state all season."
Thomas, who was especially pleased with his team's performance Saturday against Althoff Catholic, said the path to victory will be controlling the ball on offense.
"We can't turn it over and we have to pick up some first downs and score points when we have the ball," he said. "And then defensively, we have to limit their big plays. They are going to try to run over the top of us. We have to find a way to prevent that from happening. We must play hard all four quarters to have a chance."
Thomas said Decatur St. Teresa is not a huge team physically up front, but is "very good at executing" its schemes and techniques.
"We will have to be ready to go from the start," he said.
Bulldogs head coach Mark Ramsey said his ballclub does possess good speed at the skills positions, but that it won't help so much if the defense allows JC to go on sustained drives that result in scores.
"The bottom line is that we have to make stops," he said. "There is a lot on the line with this game Saturday for our seniors. We have 18 of them. And about 12 or 13 play a lot. They will be fighting for their playoff lives."
Ramsey added that JC is a formidable opponent.
"We don't see a lot of Wing T offenses, but they look good up front on the line and they have some backs that run hard. I think it will be a tough game for us."
The Bulldogs won their quarterfinal game over Pana, 37-12, while the Tribe outscored Belleville Althoff Catholic, 42-32.