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One month ago North Oldham drove south to Shelbyville with hopes of winning a district title and clinching home field for most of the Class 4A playoffs.
Those plans were smashed when Collins sent the Mustangs back home with a 35-6 defeat. It was a game where anything that could’ve gone wrong went wrong, coach Billy Martin said at the time.
But now North gets a second chance at the Titans and it’ll come with even more on the line.
The Mustangs will meet Collins at 7:30 p.m. Friday night in Shelbyville in the quarterfinals of the Class 4A playoffs.
North is playing Friday with something to prove, senior defensive back Jake Collins said.
“That was a championship level football game and we didn’t play like that,” Collins said of the Oct. 25 loss. “We played it like a season opener and it showed.
“We’re playing our best ball right now at the best time of the year. It’s all coming together and we’re going to show it.”
Martin said much of the blame for that October loss goes on his own team. The Mustangs made five trips to the Titans’ red zone in that game, coming up empty four times. They were also held to less than four yards per carry, well below their season average of 7.6 yards per carry.
This is the first time in Martin’s coaching career he’s taken a team into a playoff rematch a month after such a lopsided loss, he said.
“We’re going to have to do a better job doing some things to increase our scoring,” Martin said.
Scoring is something North hasn’t had much trouble with the first two rounds of the playoffs.
The Mustangs routed Doss 49-12 Nov. 8 in the opening round, then beat Western last week 49-6 on the road to advance to the quarterfinals. Junior running back Arien Beasley was the star of North’s latest big victory, running for 143 yards and two touchdowns on just eight carries.
“We always say ‘clock ‘em,’” said Beasley, referencing the KHSAA’s rules that mandate a running clock in games where the margin is at least 36 points. “That’s what we always want to do against every single team we play, no matter if it’s Collins, Trinity, anybody.
“We want to clock ‘em... We are capable of clocking any team we play.”
Beasley is on the cusp of some history. The junior has rushed for 1,306 yards this season, putting him nine yards short of tying a school record.
He also returned his fifth punt of the year for a touchdown against Western. The state record for punt return touchdowns in a season is six.
“It can change the game in an instant,” Collins said of Beasley’s work in the return game. “Special teams had a very big impact on our last win... Just having someone electric back there like that always keeps a team on their heels.”
North knows what to expect when it plays its rematch with the Titans Friday.
Quarterback Lawson Page is a mobile passer who loves to throw downfield. DeAndre Farris, a Western Kentucky University commit, is an explosive playmaker with the ball in his hands. Other players like Masai Whyte and Nathan Sames must also be accounted for, Martin said.
“They’re just like us,” Martin said. “They’re good and we’re good and they’re going to do the things they do well. It’s up to us to stop them.”
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