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Despite Being 0-8, Tri-Central is Much Improved Team (Preview next KHS Game)
Oct. 10, 2007 - Standing 4-4 on the season, the Knightstown Panthers will be at the proverbial fork in the road Friday night when they close the regular season with a trip to Tri-Central to play the Trojans.
There are no conference titles or longtime rivalries on the line this weekend. The game is meaningless except for the all-important momentum heading into state tournament play, which begins the following week.
Last year, the Panthers used the game against Tri-Central as a catapult for a nice run to the sectional championship. They won 48-0, and then used that momentum to beat Northeastern and Tri High in the sectional.
This year the table is set in a similar manner. The Trojans have struggled at times this season, and have played well recently. They are 0-8, but their last two losses have been to Wes-Del 34-27, and in overtime to Shenandoah 17-14. Both were games the Trojans could have won, and the results weren’t all that different than Knightstown’s games against those two teams.
Getting a team ready to play an 0-8 opponent isn’t that easy, either.
“My biggest concern is our approach to the game,” Panther Coach Bob Prescott said. “There can be a let down after losing in a conference championship game, and then you have to get the kids ready to play a team that hasn’t won a game.
“The key is that we can’t come out flat against them. This is not the same Tri-Central team we played last year. They are a much better team, they are much more sound, and they do a good job of both running and throwing the ball.”
The Trojans haven’t had a lot of success over the years, going just 17-83 in the previous 10 seasons. They are currently riding a 15-game losing streak. But they have held their own against common opponents.
Both teams have played Lapel, Shenandoah and Wes-Del. The Trojans lost to the Bulldogs early in the season 27-7, while the Panthers fell to the Bulldogs last week 21-12.
Tri-Central lost to Shenandoah 17-14 in overtime, while Knightstown beat the Raiders three weeks ago 14-6. The Trojans fell to Wes-Del Saturday 34-27, and the Panthers beat the Warriors back on the third game of the season 34-12. A comparison of those matches – especially the game against the Raiders - points toward the potential for a very competitive battle Friday night. Tri-Central played as well against Shenandoah as Knightstown did.
The Panthers and Trojans have met on the gridiron just six times in history, with the Panthers holding a 5-1 advantage. The only win for Tri-Central came in 2004, when the Panthers were riding a four-game losing streak and finished the season on a six-game tailspin.
Although the Trojans have lost 15 straight, they feel confident they can pick up a victory this Friday night over a Knightstown team that has struggled all season long to score points.
The Trojans have scored 108 points in eight games, while the Panthers have put up just 99. KHS has allowed 141 points, while the Trojans have given up 296. But Tri-Central has allowed just 78 points to the three common opponents, while the Panthers have yielded 39 to those same teams.
A look at strength of schedule reveals even more evidence that the Trojans are a pretty good 0-8 team this season. Their opponents have a combined record of 39-25 after eight games, one of the toughest schedules in the state in Class A. Panther opponents have a combined record of 34-30 coming into this game, which is deceiving when you consider that schedule includes 1-7 Eastern Hancock.
“We have got to be focused and ready to play,” Prescott said. “I think in the last few games we have been the better team in the fourth quarter, and that’s what this might come down to. We can’t come out flat.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
2006: Knightstown 48 Tri-Central 0
2005: Knightstown 51 Tri-Central 6
2004: Tri-Central 30 Knightstown 18
2003: Knightstown 21 Tri-Central 13
2002: Knightstown 20 Tri-Central 0
2001: Knightstown 28 Tri-Central 0
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