Keys to the Game: Carmel at Ben Davis
Keys to the Game: Carmel at Ben Davis
Matt Detrich | The Star
A month ago, fans would’ve looked at this matchup as a potential blowout win for Carmel. That’s not the case anymore, as the Ben Davis Giants have been revitalized thanks to a double overtime win against Warren Central two weeks ago. A week after beating the Warriors, the Giants took care of business at Lawrence North, 35-21.
In the Giants’ way are the Carmel Greyhounds, coming off a last-second loss on homecoming night to North Central, 27-21. The loss puts the Greyhounds in a four-way tie for first place in the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference (MIC) with Warren Central, Ben Davis and North Central.
What will it take for Ben Davis and Carmel to come away with a win in this week seven battle?
- Ground and Pound – Quarterback Trent Gipson is much better utilized as a scrambler than a passer. Through six games, Gipson has averaged 81.8 yards per game on the ground. In the Giants’ three wins this season, Gipson ran for no less than 97 yards and only threw for more than 100 yards just once. Combined with a solid duo of tailbacks in Alijawon Hassel and Trez Cushingberry, Ben Davis has a trio of talented runners that can challenge this Carmel defense.
- Commit to Winning Third Down – In a conference call with Giants Head Coach Jason Simmons, he stressed the importance of winning third down offensively and defensively. In Ben Davis’ three wins this season, Simmons mentioned how the Giants had a high third down conversion rate offensively, while the defense kept the third down conversions relatively low. That will be easier said than done against an always stout Carmel defense.
- Stop the Run – Carmel relies heavily on their running back group - Dylan Downing, John Rogers and Zach White - to move the ball and create a rhythm on offense. Once the running game is established, the Greyhounds often turn to play-action to open up the passing game. On defense, the Giants must commit to stopping the run and make the Greyhounds one-dimensional on offense. If Ben Davis can slow down the running attack, that will make it much more difficult for Carmel to successfully execute their play-action game.
- Stay Disciplined on Defense – Carmel Head Coach John Hebert has high praise for Gipson, calling him one of the most explosive players in the MIC. Because of his dual-threat ability as a runner and passer, Hebert will put extra focus on discipline to his defense this week. This means reading keys on the offensive line, not falling for ball-fakes or any other deception that might be thrown at them. If Gipson or any of Ben Davis’ talented skill players break into the open field, good luck bringing them down.
- Find an Offensive Identity – Last week was one of the worst offensive performances of the season, as the offense couldn’t score on North Central until midway through the fourth quarter. There have been flashes this season, but overall too much inconsistency on the offensive side of the ball. Lots of factors have played into this, injuries mainly, but Hebert has expressed concern that the offense has yet to find an identity this late in the season. Perhaps Carmel can find inspiration in the running game, where the Greyhounds have averaged 5.1 yards per carry this season. Here’s a stat to keep in mind this week, Carmel is 2-0 in games where they surpass their season average, and 2-2 when they finish below that mark.
- Don’t Forget About Special Teams – Carmel allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown in the beginning of the second half, which sparked North Central’s comeback last week. Ben Davis has some dangerous returners such as Jaylen Nolen and Adrian Reese. If the Greyhounds can win the field position battle by pinning the Giants deep in their territory, that should bode well for a stingy Carmel defense that will make Ben Davis earn every yard they can get.