NEW CARLISLE — When asked about New Prairie's biggest concern heading into Friday's matchup with South Bend Clay, associate head coach and offensive coordinator Bill Gumm's response was quick, and simple.
"The first thing we're looking at is their size," Gumm said. "They've got some real big kids out there. South Bend Clay can match up pretty close with (our offensive line)."
It was a bit of a shocking statement, considering the Cougars' staggering offensive line averages over 300 pounds per person. The fact they were facing a Colonial team with three players over 300 pounds to match was cause for concern, regardless of the fact they shut out South Bend Clay in their past three meetings and outscored them 291-20 the past five years.
Any concerns New Prairie may have had about the battle in the trenches were erased almost immediately in its 62-7 rout of the Colonials on Friday night.
The Cougars totaled 163 yards and four touchdowns on the ground in the first quarter alone — three of the scores coming from running back Chris Mays, who found the end zone four times on the night.
While Mays is a talented, patient runner, New Prairie's offensive line was opening up holes big enough for a middle schooler to total triple-digit rushing yards. Seeing linemen blocking 10, 20 yards up the field was a common occurence, allowing the Cougars to use its biggest strength: Rushing the football.
Whether it was Mays bursting through gaps or quarterback Chase Ketterer sprinting past the defense, New Prairie ran at ease all night. The Cougars' first half stats, during which the Cougars jumped out to a 48-0 lead, illustrated just how dominant the offensive line was all night long.
New Prairie's offense totaled 339 yards rushing on 36 carries (9.4 yards per carry), highlighted by Mays' and Ketterer's combined 249 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground in the first half.
"Having three 300-pounders on the line and one almost 300, it's pretty nice running behind them every night," Mays said. "They work hard at practice every day, and it showed."
While it's easy to look at the Cougars' stupendous numbers on the ground, taking a quick glimpse at South Bend Clay's box score proves how dominant New Prairie was at the line of scrimmage on the other side of the ball.
The Colonials opened up their night offensively with a 16-yard rush, causing some concern early on. But defensive coordinator Julio Cisneros' unit locked it down from then-on, shutting down South Bend Clay's running game to negative-16 yards the remainder of the first half.
"These kids are listening," Cisneros said of his defense. "Coach (Bobby) Whiteneck, Coach (Russ) Radke and myself watch a lot of film and we're telling the kids what to do, and they're doing what we're telling them to do. It's as simple as that."
New Prairie's dominant performance continued a recent trend of owning a Colonial team that has now lost 32 games straight. Clay's lone touchdown on a kickoff return in the fourth quarter marked the first Colonial points against the Cougars since New Prairie's seniors were in eighth grade; and to make matters worse, Clay has been outscored 353-27 by the Cougars in the teams' past six contests.
New Prairie (2-0) and its prolific offense are off to a scorching start to the season, combining for 93 points in its first two games. With a dynamic backfield of Mays and Ketterer running behind an offensive line that weighs more than some college FBS units, the Cougars' next opponent (Andrean) has its work cut out for it.
New Prairie 62, South Bend Clay 7
Chris Mays and Chase Ketterer combined for 129 yards rushing and seven touchdowns.