Conner Stapleton’s job is to turn on the speed once he sees a running lane worth pursuing.
Center Grove’s halfback spotted quite a few Friday night, some wide enough to drive a midsized automobile through.
The senior needed 11 carries to pile up a career-best 197 rushing yards and three touchdowns as the sixth-ranked Trojans defeated Martinsville, 41-12, in first-round play of Class 5A’s Sectional 7.
“Got to give a lot of love to my linemen. They blocked their butts off tonight,” Stapleton said about an offense that totaled 439 yards on the ground and another 114 through the air. “We struggled in the first half, but in that second half, we definitely turned on the jets.”
The victory not only improved Center Grove’s win streak against the Artesians to seven, it made the Trojans’ record 9-1 entering next Friday’s sectional semifinal against county rival Franklin.
By no means, however, was Center Grove’s sectional opener anything close to a work of art considering Center Grove racked up an unsightly 136 yards in penalties.
“Martinsville came out and played hard, but our defense really stepped up tonight,” Trojans coach Eric Moore said. His defense gave up 204 passing yards to Martinsville junior signal caller Mason Kutruff, though a good percentage of the yardage came when the game was well out of reach. “And our offense finally got on track.”