EAST CHICAGO | Now in its second year in Class 4A, E.C. Central is the subject of some whispers around the Region that they might grab the program's first-ever sectional championship.
The Cardinals took a step in the right direction in their 48-13 rout of Clark on Friday night.
Cardinals coach Stacy Adams doesn't buy into the hype, though.
"We're thinking about one game at a time," he said. "Every game we're getting better and better. The O-line is tougher in years past and it helps with the athleticism and size. They're a great asset for us."
The aforementioned offensive line, which averages 6-foot-3 and 260 pounds, had a whale of a night blocking. They helped junior running back Martayveus Carter run for 184 yards – on just 13 carries – and three first-half touchdowns.
"The weight room has been huge for us and we've all gotten stronger," senior lineman Michael Henney said. "We adjusted on the fly when they switched defensive looks on us."
Carter picked up right where he left off from last week's impressive 10 carry, 159-yard performance versus Gavit by rumbling for a 56-yard TD on the third play from scrimmage.
His next score of 5 yards capped off a 9-play, 70-yard scoring drive, in which he recorded four first downs.
With 8:50 left in the second, Clark (1-4) got on the board by capitalizing on a Denzel Mayo 52-yard fumble recovery. That set up a Justin Martinez 6-yard TD pass to junior running back Kensha' Funches, cutting the lead to seven.
But E.C. Central (4-1) answered right back, on what was arguably the highlight of the night, when the elusive Carter scampered down the left sideline for 71 yards out of the Wildcat formation, diving towards the pylon over two Pioneers for a touchdown at the end of the half.
After backfield cohort LaRunte Fairley added a 20-yard score to start the third quarter, the defense was at it again, as Tre'Quan Burnett scored on a 17-yard fumble recovery.
After two big interception returns against Gavit, Fairley was at it again defensively, as he recorded another pick-six, this time from 70 yards out.
Not to be outdone, senior cornerback Demetris Cosuins had three interceptions, including one to seal the rout in the fourth.
"The coaches have emphasized catching the ball at its highest point," said Cousins, who also caught three balls for 56 yards.
Clark coach Jay Novak was pleased with the inspired effort his team played with, even though it was under bad circumstances.
"We were playing with some heavy hearts tonight and dedicated the game to recently-deceased baby Adler Shelbourne," he said. "I thought we played extremely tough, but E.C. has a great ball club and are just so athletic. They cause trouble on both sides of the ball."