Just one season after capturing a regional championship over a rival opponent, South Warren has the opportunity to add another trophy to its case this week.
After defeating Bowling Green 28-21 last November to win the Class 5A, Region 1 title, the Spartans are seeking their second consecutive regional crown Friday when they host Owensboro in the quarterfinals of the 2018 KHSAA Class 5A Commonwealth Gridiron Bowl at Spartan Stadium.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m., with the game being broadcast live on STBNTV.com, a part of The Sporting Times Broadcast Network.
Although South has been dominant week-by-week and won each of its games by an average of 35 points, it knows it’ll have its hands full with an offensive powered Owensboro squad that has been on a roll.
“Owensboro will be our toughest challenge of the season,” South Warren coach Brandon Smith said. “They have players at every position. Their quarterback is outstanding and their skill players are extremely explosive. We will have to play our best game of the year to have a chance to slow them down.”
The Red Devils (10-2) – winners of eight straight – travel to Spartan Stadium after knocking off Bowling Green 28-21 last Friday in Owensboro. In its marquee victory over the Purples, Owensboro finished with 401 total yards as quarterback Will Warren threw for 295 yards and four touchdowns while completing 24-of-34 passes.
Along with Warren, wide receiver Imonte Owsley reeled in seven receptions for 160 yards and two TDs, while also rushing for 34 yards on nine carries. Through 12 games, Warren has passed for 3,090 yards and 37 TDs, while Owsley has tallied 1,778 all-purpose yards and 21 total scores to lead an offensive unit that averages 394 yards and 38 points per game.
While Owensboro’s offense catches the attention of Smith and the Spartans, it’s the defensive group of South Warren that earns the attention from OHS coach Jayson Fallin and the Red Devils.
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A unit that is allowing an average of just nine points per game, South Warren’s defense is also limiting its opponents to just under 100 yards each week.
“South Warren is a talented, senior-laden, well-coached squad led by seniors Gavin Spurrier, Jacob Lacey and Clayton Bush,” Fallin said. “In just a few short years, Coach Smith’s squad has emerged as one of the preeminent programs in Western Kentucky.”
As everything begins with the standout senior defensive lineman Lacey – a Notre Dame commit that has recorded 62 total tackles, 10 sacks and four forced fumbles in 2018 – the Spartans present a dominant, veteran group on that side of the ball.
Along with Lacey, senior Pete Cross leads South Warren with 104 tackles, while fellow seniors Tre Teague (96), Rowdy Shea (56), Bush (52) and Trent Rice (51) have combined for 255 more. Bush – a WKU commit – also has seven interceptions and two pick-six TDs.
Offensively, Spurrier – a senior quarterback – has passed for 1,977 yards and 33 TDs, while senior running back Cameron Harrison has racked up 1,184 rushing yards and 17 scores for a unit that is averaging 312 yards and scoring 44 points per game.
“To slow down their balanced offensive attack, we will have to be assignment strong and play with great enthusiasm and effort on defense. Offensively, we will need to make each possession count and limit mistakes,” Fallin said. “We fully understand what is at stake, and we are looking forward to the challenge of going on the road in a tough environment against a great team on Friday.”
Friday’s matchup will mark the first-ever meeting between South Warren and Owensboro.
As for the winner of the tilt, it’ll advance to the semifinal round for a date with the South Oldham (11-1)-Fern Creek (8-4) victor.
“We will have to play our best game of the year to have a chance to win the game,” said Smith.