In three games to start the season the Monroe Central Seminoles have yet to give up more than two touchdowns per contest.
Over the course of those same three games the Caldwell Redskins have yet to score less than 33.
As the old saying goes, something's got to give.
The Seminoles and their stringent defense head to the Noble County Fairgrounds Friday night to square off against the potent Redskin offense in an early showdown of Pioneer Valley Conference powers. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.
"It's definitely a big game. Early in the season it's probably as big of a matchup as there is around," said Monroe Central football coach Jay Circosta.
Both teams enter Friday's game with identical 2-1 records, and are looking to take the upper hand in the Pioneer Valley Conference. Last fall the Redskins lost just one game all year, and that was at the hands of the Seminoles.
"Definitely two good football teams that have had a pretty long rivalry," said Caldwell football coach Josh Perkins.
With the talent on the two squads, both coaches expect defense to be the key to the game as the Seminoles will try to contain Jensen Croucher, Adam Rossiter and the Caldwell offense that put up 402 yards last week.
"They've been scoring a lot of points. They're averaging almost 39 points a game. I think they're averaging about 38.6 a game and they haven't given up a lot," Circosta said.
Last week against Harrison Central, Rossiter rushed for 201 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries.
Croucher ran for 22 yards and a pair of TDs while also passing for 81 yards and another pair of scores.
The ground game was definitely the bulk of production, as Caldwell had 321 yards on the ground in the game.
"We have to play sound defense. You're not going to shut down their running game, but you have to try to contain it somewhat," Circosta said.
Getting the ground game going is something the Redskins definitely plan on doing.
"I don't think we need to change much. We've got to do what we do best and try to find matchups," Perkins said.
As a team, the Redskins are averaging 290 yards rushing per game and 397 yards of total offense per contest. Just once in three games have the Redskins been held to less than 400 yards of production, a testament to the Caldwell offensive line.
"We've got a lot of confidence in our line. That's what jump starts what we do best," Perkins said.
While the Redskin offense is drawing the bulk of the attention, Perkins and his team isn't about to forget about the Seminoles and their standout quarterback Tyler Kinchen.
In three games this year Kinchen has completed 36-of-61 pass attempts for 443 yards and three scores while also rushing for 105 yards. Last fall Kinchen both rushed and passed for 1,000 yards.
Perkins is looking for his defense to make tackles better than it did against Harrison Central, but the biggest key to containing the Seminole offense is in fact the Redskins' offense.
"If we can keep our offense on the field then their offense doesn't have it (football)," Perkins explained.
Ironically, Circosta is looking to do the same thing to help control the Redskins.
But for the Seminoles to do that they'll have to run the ball better than they have in recent weeks, averaging just 104 yards per game on the ground.
"At times we've shown that we can move the football by throwing it," Circosta said. "We just haven't got the running game going like it needs to go."
Monroe Central is averaging just 251.6 yards of offense per game, well below the Redskins' standards, but Perkins understands that controlling the Seminoles is no easy task.
Of course, Circosta feels the same way about the Redskins.
"I think our defense is getting better. Are we really where we need to be? I don't know. I think this week will be a real test in that Caldwell has an outstanding running game and some good people up front," Circosta said.
Which team controls the opposing team's offense best figures to come out on top, gaining at the moment an advantage in the PVC.
"It's a big game. It's not the end of the season for either team, both teams being 2-1, but it's going to be a real shot in the arm for the team that can come out on top on Friday," Circosta said.
Perkins agreed, noting there's a lot more football strength in the league than some people give it credit for. "The PVC doesn't always get the credit it deserves but year in and year out there's always one or two PVC teams in the playoffs," Perkins said.
Implications for the league and postseason aside, even though it's only week four, one thing both coaches know about Friday night is it's bound to be some good football.
"It's Monroe Central. It's Caldwell. It's always a good game," Perkins said. "It just comes down to Friday night and who wants it more."