TC football photo

Triton Central’s Jaquan Blake (18) and Tristen Huffman (8) take down a Indianapolis Scecina rusher earlier this season. The Tigers will travel to Eastern Friday for sectional play.

FAIRLAND — Just as the Triton Central football team finished up its practice Wednesday afternoon, the Tigers took a knee for assistant coach Frank Miller, who shared a quote by author Steven Pressfield.

“Courage is inseparable from love and leads to what may arguably be the noblest of all warrior virtues: selflessness.”

Miller explained that the TC football players must play for each other and play together as a team if they want to bring home their third consecutive sectional title. The players responded with a rousing approval.

The Tigers (5-4) are slated to open Sectional 39 at Eastern (0-6) on Friday.

Triton Central is coming off a 24-21 loss last week to Class 2A No. 11 Speedway. TC junior receiver Brad Schultz tallied over 200 yards receiving, scored two touchdowns and snatched an interception defensively.

“Everyone is playing this time of year,” TC head coach Tim Able said. “If we do not come ready to play one week, then your season is over and that is not what we want.”

The Tigers are looking to find the momentum they had last season during their run through the sectional in which they outscored their opponents 119-19 en route to the sectional title. Able knows that in some of their games earlier this season, the Tigers were outmatched. But he said that this is the perfect opportunity to build momentum, because Triton Central can outmatch its opponents in the sectional.

“We want to get momentum for our tournament run,” Able said. “We have to go out Friday night and get off to a strong start, because there have been times this year that we have not gotten off to a strong start like we needed to.”

With only five seniors on this season’s roster, TC received great contributions from its younger players during the regular season. Sophomore running back Ray Crawford leads the Tigers in rushing (916 yards) and receiving (287 yards). He even threw a 71-yard touchdown pass against Speedway last week. Sophomore quarterback Jace Stuckey (seven games) has 987 passing yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions.

Schultz, senior Jaquan Blake and senior Devon Emberton have been solid utility players – offensively and defensively – for the Tigers.

The Tigers hope to have a shot at their third consecutive sectional title in just a couple of weeks and despite Eastern coming into the sectional with an 0-6 record, Able said his team must focus on each opponent as if they were Evansville Mater Dei or Linton Stockton – and not take them for granted.

“This is the time of year to play a full 48 minutes of football,” Able said. “Opponents are only going to be stiffer each week. We have to play the same way despite who our opponent is.”

Mitchell (3-5) will play at Clarksville (2-7) on Friday. The winner of that game will play the winner of the Triton Central-Eastern game next week.

Justin Powell is a sports correspondent for The Shelbyville News. Follow Justin on Twitter