Shelbyville’s offensive strength is in its passing game. Delta’s defensive strength is in its veteran backfield.
Game on, according to new Delta coach Chris Overholt.
“We have four (defensive backs) that are two- and three-year starters,” said the 2001 Delta graduate who replaced Grant Zgunda in the offseason. Zgunda is now the school’s athletic director.
Shelbyville counters with five receivers with 40 receptions, including seven touchdowns. They’ve proven they can score from anywhere on the field.
“That’s the beauty of what they do,” said Overholt. “They’ll throw screens and hitches at you and as soon as you start to bite, they’ve got four guys going deep and they will throw it over your head.”
Quarterback John Lux has already passed for nearly 700 yards this season after setting the program record in 2015 with 1,645 yards. At his current rate, he will eclipse that mark in week five.
Lux threw for nearly 500 yards and five touchdowns in last week’s 38-26 win at Franklin. The Grizzly Cubs kept daring him to air it out. So he did, according to Shelbyville coach Pat Parks.
“They had 11 guys within seven yards of the line of scrimmage and no safety in the middle of the field,” explained Parks. “They were daring us to throw the ball. We are confident we have the ability to do that. And Franklin didn’t change even after we had success.”
Avery Allen fell just short of 100 yards receiving in that game which would have given the Golden Bears three receivers over the century mark.
“We had good blocking by the front line and we have receivers that are catching the ball,” said Parks. “Everyone is viable (to catch a pass). If you leave someone alone, John will find them and make you pay.”
Much like Shelbyville’s defense which is predicated on quicker athletes rather than larger, more powerful players, Delta’s is much the same.
“Our new defensive philosophy is to be faster up front,” said Overholt. “Our biggest guy (of three defensive linemen) is 220 pounds. But all three are in the top five fastest players on our team. They are athletic and big weight room guys.”
Delta’s offense is more ground based with powerful freshman running back Charlie Spegal and senior quarterback Tanner Lambert leading the way.
“They are going to be a ground-and-pound group,” said Parks. “That will be a big test for us this week. We will have to be able to take that punch in the mouth. We’re going to have to step up our game physically.”
Spegal (5-foot-10, 215 pounds) has rushed for 293 yards and four touchdowns in wins over Jay County and Shenandoah.
“He doesn’t look like a freshman,” said Parks.
“When you see him, you don’t believe he is a freshman,” he said. “He’s another big weight room kid. He’s quiet. He does whatever you ask.”
Spegal also will play defensive end Friday.
Lambert set the state record for three-pointers made without a miss in a game (9-for-9) last Winter during the basketball season. And he was a key part of Delta’s regional championship baseball team in the Spring.
“When the lights come on, he likes to be in the spotlight,” said Overholt. “When it’s game time, he’s on.”
Shelbyville’s offensive and defensive line gets bolstered this week with the return of junior Nick Brokering, who suffered an ankle sprain in week one. He returned to practice this week and is probable to start Friday in a big game on the opening night of the Hoosier Heritage Conference schedule.
“It’s a big matchup for both of us,” said Parks. “We’re both 2-0. Our first conference games come against quality teams.
“If you lose, you can still make a lot of noise with six more games to go. But if you win, you control your own destiny a lot more.”
Jeff Brown is the Sports editor of The Shelbyville News. Follow Jeff on Twitter at @iamtsnsports.
Class 4A, No. 9 Shelbyville at Delta
Site: Delta High School.
Kickoff: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Broadcast: Pre-game starts at 6:30 p.m. on 96.5 FM (WSVX).
2016 records: Shelbyville 2-0; Delta 2-0.
Coaches: Pat Parks, 114-114 in 22nd year at Shelbyville; Chris Overholt, 2-0 in first year at Delta.
Sagarin ratings: Shelbyville is favored by 7 points.
Last year: DeShaun French scored from 10 yards out on Shelbyville’s first play of overtime. Ty Johnson then delivered the game-winning extra point kick in the Golden Bears’ 27-26 victory.
Recent meetings: Delta has won 15 of 20 all-time meetings. Shelbyville’s win in 2015 snapped a 7-game losing streak to the Eagles.
Other HHC games Friday: Class 4A, No. 15 Greenfield-Central (2-0) at Mount Vernon (0-2); Pendleton Heights (1-1) at New Castle (1-1); and Yorktown (1-1) at 5A No. 2 New Palestine (2-0).