Carmel awaits the challenge of the regular season stretch run

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Carmel running back Chris Perkins takes a handoff during a Greyhounds' practice.

CARMEL – Even as he looks at his team’s overall record and the scores of their opening six games of their season, Kevin Wright knows better than to overreact.

“One thing we’ve learned in the last couple of years with the schedule is that you can’t get to high or too low,” said the Carmel head coach. “We just go about our business and prepare like we would any other week.”

After all, he just has to look at past years to realize that the greatest tests are yet to come for his Carmel teams-especially in the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference.

Since taking over the Greyhounds program in 2010 his team has entered the final third of their regular season with a perfect 6-0 record-as they have again in 2014.  In that first season and the next year in 2011, Carmel lost their first game of the season both times to Warren Central.

In fact four of Wright’s six regular season losses while a head coach with the Greyhounds have come in Week 7 or later-so the coach knows there is so much left to learn about what kind of team he has on the field.

“The toughest part of our schedule is ahead of us,” said the Greyhounds head coach-whose team has started the 2014 season with six consecutive victories. “I kinda compare our last three games to playing Alabama, Auburn and Texas A&M that’s really what you’re looking at when your going Ben Davis, Warren (Central) and Lawrence Central.

“We’ll find out a little more about ourselves over the course of the next three weeks.”

The early returns have been quite positive for the Greyhounds, who are at the top of the Associated Press’ Top Ten in Class 6A and second in the IFCA Coaches’ Pole. Wright’s team showed fortitude in a trio of hard-fought early season victories over Hamilton Southeastern (14-7), at Louisville Trinity (10-7) and at Center Grove (21-14).

Over the past three weeks the scored more decisive victories over Pike, Lawrence North and North Central, shutting out the Panthers 56-0 a week ago. It’s the start to Carmel’s path back to the Class 6A state championship game where they lost 7-6 last November.

“I think this team is a lot better than last year, we have more athletes on the field offensively and defensively that can run in space that helps us out a lot,” said Carmel senior running back Chris Perkins of the 2014 Greyhounds’ squad. “I just think we grew. We got better. We listen to what the coaches had to say, got better on our technique and we improved on a lot of different things to make us better for this year.”

Those athletes will be tested by Ben Davis, who will bring to Friday night’s game at Carmel one of the more explosive offenses in the State of Indiana. Using a steady dose of big plays the Giants have averaged 43 points a game and have reached 50 points three times this season. They followed only loss of the season at Warren Central with a 56-6 thrashing of Lawrence North in which they scored on three of their first four plays.

Senior Isaac James says the key is preventing those big plays against the Giants, which can help the Greyhounds get a great start to their toughest part of the regular season. The last two seasons Ben Davis has found a way to make those plays against Carmel, beating them 28-24 last year at home and then on the road 13-7 in 2012.

“They thrive on big plays and if you give them some momentum and give them some life they’re obviously going to be explosive,” said James. “If we take some of that away from them early we don’t have to worry too much about them being as explosive as they have been. I think if we takes some of the momentum that they have and transfer that to our team than we’ll stop them and hopefully take away their key to winning the game.”

If they can, Carmel can use that to open the door to another run towards a state championship.