“I wouldn’t want to play with us”

FLORA — The culture within Carroll’s college football program has taken years to develop, and after winning a sectional championship last season for the first time since 2003, the Cougars want their opponents to know they’re not haven’t finished yet.

Carroll set up a 2022 season in which a last-gasp second goal against Class A No. 10 Sheridan (8-1) cut him short of an unblemished regular season and league championship. Hoosier Heartland Conference.

After that 19-18 loss to the Blackhawks last Friday, Carroll’s head coach Blake Betzner is confident his team will bounce back in time for the playoffs in all the right ways, heading to North White for the first class A round, section 43. tournament.

“I wouldn’t want to play against us,” Betzner said. “You never want a loss, but it’s going to refocus us because they haven’t felt that loss yet. They haven’t felt that loss. They don’t know what it’s like to wake up on Saturday and not not being victorious since last year. It’s a good realization that if you don’t play a game well, it’s over.

Although Carroll (8-1) wouldn’t categorize last season’s regional loss to North Judson as not playing well, at the start of this season the Cougars focused on developing their squad for bigger and bigger opponents. more physical than they expected to see over the course of the season. tournament.

“We had 30, 40 guys every morning, three days a week, lifting weights. They did it,” Betzner said. “It was truly amazing the time and effort they put into it. But yes, we were not physically beaten on Friday. … We physically dealt with Sheridan and a year ago we didn’t.”

Carroll's Keegan Ellis (8) goes over for extra yards against Sheridan on Friday, October 14, 2022 at Carroll High School.

Improving strength within the team hasn’t paid more dividends than in the Cougars’ defense, as they hold teams to 10 points per game on average, which puts them 17th in the league. Average defensive state.

For linebacker Grady Lytle, the Cougars’ defensive prowess begins with the work they put in Monday through Thursday.

“I think it starts with preparation every week. (Blake) Betzner puts us in the best position to go out and win games on the defensive side of the ball. …” Lytle said. “I think what’s special about this team is that everyone knows their role and knows that he might not get 10 tackles a game, but if he does his work, we will be good.”

Offensively, the No. 5 ranked team in Class A is no pushover either.

The Cougars are averaging 41 points while winning games this season by an average margin of 31 points.

From putting points on the board to racking up takeaways, Lytle believes it all started with last year’s sectional race and now that they’ve tasted championship success, the Cougars want more.

“He built a winning culture,” Lytle said. “In first and second year we weren’t a very good team at all, then in junior year we started dominating teams and we were winning sections. It was a good feeling and I think going into this year, just knowing what it’s like to win, we want to win more. We are all hungry.

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