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Giants to host Richmond in homecoming game

By CHUCK LANDIS - clandis@chronicle-tribune.com

Week 5 represents the midway point of the high school football season, and it also will be a special time for Grant County teams.

Marion returns home after playing its last three games on the road and hosts Richmond for homecoming. At 4-0, 2-0 in the North Central Conference, the Giants are off to their best start since 2006, which also was the last year they won the conference championship.

Saturday, the other four county teams travel to Muncie for Central Indiana Conference Day at Ball State University’s Schuemann Stadium. Eastbrook plays Oak Hill at 1 p.m. and Mississinewa plays Madison-Grant at 4 p.m.

Richmond (1-3, 0-2) at Marion (4-0, 2-0)

While homecoming festivities this evening might feature some form of fireworks, the Marion offense has become a virtual lock to explode each week. The Giants top Class 4A with a 47.0-point scoring average and rank sixth among all schools.

JK Thomas is the biggest reason for the Giants’ success and the lightning-fast 5-foot-8 junior racked up four more touchdowns in their 53-0 victory at Anderson. Thomas also had more than 200 rushing yards against the Indians. Quarterback Deshaun Taylor hasn’t passed much (3-of-6 for 58 yards against Anderson) but he is another breakaway running threat.

Opponents haven’t kept pace because the Giants defense allows 7.75 points a game that ranks fourth best in 4A. The Giants had two defensive touchdowns at Anderson on fumble recoveries from Dre Aguilar and Xavier Gee.

Richmond lost its previous game 20-14 to Muncie Central and has lost three straight. Running back Wyatt Byrd has gained 445 yards and scored five TDs, and quarterback Alec Snedigar is 22-of-58 passing for 394 yards and four TDs.

Marion has won two straight in the series, including a 41-0 shutout last year at Richmond, but the Red Devils hold a 17-14 advantage over the past 30 years. The Giants are ranked in the top 10 in both polls for the first time this week, breaking in at No. 9 in the coaches poll and moving up to eighth by  the Associated Press.

Game time is 7:10 p.m. due to homecoming and other special activities.

Eastbrook (3-1, 1-1) vs. Oak Hill (1-3, 1-1) at Ball State

Having their string of 12 straight CIC victories snapped by Mississinewa, the Panthers attempt to begin a new streak against the Golden Eagles. The Panthers fell to seven in the Associated Press top 10 and fifth in the coaches poll following their 34-28 loss to the Indians, an instant classic.

The Eagles are coming off their first win of the season, a 28-0 shutout of Elwood, led by a rushing attack that amassed 238 yards and four TDs. Sophomore Blake Fox led all rushers with 100 yards, Josiah Columbus had a pair of TD runs, while Jon Holz and Clayton McCorkle each ran for a score.

Eastbrook’s Xaine Kirby had his best rushing game against Ole Miss with 239 yards including a 67-yard jaunt and a TD. Quarterback Dylan Bragg connected with Clay Dalton on 17- and 47-yard TD pass plays, the latter having tied it 28-all midway through the fourth quarter.

The Panthers have won three straight over the Eagles and lead the series 25-9 over the past 30 years.

Mississinewa (3-1, 2-0) vs. Madison-Grant (1-3, 1-1) at Ball State

The Indians are another prolific scoring offense and stand ninth in 4A with a 40.75-point average. Heisman Skeens took his big-play talents to quarterback this season and through four games has completed 26-of-34 passes for 535 yards and four TDs while running for 400 yards and five scores.

Cade Campbell has been the Indians other main offensive weapon and the junior has 381 rushing yards and nine scores and caught 12 pass for 239 yards and a pair of TDs.

Skeens rushed for 148 yards two TDs and passed for 96 yards and a score in the Indians’ big 34-28 victory over then 2A second-ranked Eastbrook. Campbell added another 137 yards on the ground and a pair of TDs.

Madison-Grant won for the first time in 15 games when it defeated Alexandria 27-14 behind a rushing attack that ran 58 times for 370 yards. Michael Stewart led the way with 208 rushing yards on 22 carries and the Argylls played ball control to obtain the homecoming win.

The Indians are on the verge of breaking into the coaches’ top 10 rankings, falling just short at No. 11 this week. The latest Sagarin Ratings have the Indians in sixth place, two spots behind Marion.

Ole Miss has won five straight over its county and CIC rivals and has a 17-14 edge in the series over the past 30 years.