McLean County faces another test at Somerset

Photo by Greg Eans, Messenger-Inquirer.com | geans@messenger-inquirer.com McLean County’s Landen Capps gets away from Owensboro Catholic’s Dalton Devine on Friday, Oct. 4, at Paulsen Stadium in McLean County.

For the second straight week, McLean County will be a heavy underdog in the KHSAA Class 2-A football playoffs.

The Cougars travel to Somerset for the state quarterfinals Friday night.

Somerset is 11-1 and one of the true power teams in 2-A this season.

Going by the RPI, McLean County will be a 21-point underdog against the Briar Jumpers.

Yet, the Cougars (8-4) were also 10-point underdogs to Owensboro Catholic in last week's second-round matchup, and they pulled off a historic 37-36 upset at Steele Stadium.

That victory set up this scenario for the Cougars.

"Another daunting task," McLean County coach Zach Wagner said. "They're very, very big up front. They're a mix of run and pass. Their quarterback is rangy, can run and throw the deep ball. They have some bruising running backs."

Kaiya Sheron is a 6-foot-3 pro-style quarterback who has gotten plenty of recruiting attention from the University of Kentucky, among others. He is the top-rated quarterback prospect in the 2021 class in Kentucky.

Sheron has thrown for 2,630 yards, 21 touchdowns and five interceptions while completing 68 percent of his passes. Sheron has also run for 766 yards and eight touchdowns.

Kade Grundy is a 6-3 receiver who is better known as a baseball prospect, although he is a plenty good on the football field. Grundy has 48 catches for 1,092 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Alex Miller has averaged 106.8 rushing yards a game with 12 touchdowns for Somerset.

McLean County went up against Drew Hartz and Catholic twice, and Hartz threw for over 4,000 yards this season.

The Cougars' formula for beating Catholic was to try and keep the ball away from its offense with their own ground-churning attack. The Cougars also threw a couple of gadget plays at Catholic that worked well.

"We're going to take same approach as we did with Catholic," Wagner said. "We knew Catholic was very good at what they did, and we knew we couldn't stop them. If they turned the ball over, and we could keep moving the ball, keep it away from their athletes, we'd have a chance."

Andrew Munster and Landon Capps had 34 carries and 232 yards between them with three touchdowns against Catholic. Capps has 1,148 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. Munster has 923 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns. Peyton Caraway has 859 rushing yards.

Defending the hybrid Wing T could be difficult for Somerset, because it is an offense not many teams utilize, and therefore more difficult to prepare for.

"The gameplan is going to have to change a little bit," Wagner said. "Hopefully we may be able to outflank them. If we can nickel and dime them and keep their defense on the field. They're so big up front, we're going to have to rely on angles."

One thing that can't change for McLean County is how it views this game.

"The moment can't be bigger than us, our mindset has to be the same," Wagner said. "This is a very gritty group, they've gotten better as the year's gone by."

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