Roller coaster season for Muncie Central ends in sectional loss to Connersville

<p>Freshman cornerback Damon Wilkins catches a ball during pregame, Aug. 28, 2020, at Yorktown High School. The Yorktown Tigers would go on to beat the Muncie Central Bearcats 35-8. <strong>Jacob Musselman, DN</strong></p>

Freshman cornerback Damon Wilkins catches a ball during pregame, Aug. 28, 2020, at Yorktown High School. The Yorktown Tigers would go on to beat the Muncie Central Bearcats 35-8. Jacob Musselman, DN

A roller coaster has many elements to it.

It has twists and turns.

It has its highs and lows.

Much like a roller coaster, the Bearcats (2-5) had both its highs and lows the past three months, from just being able to play a season, to missing three games because of COVID-19. 

From its first win of the season against Anderson to losing its last four, including last night’s first-round sectional loss to Connersville (2-6) 54-21.

A “roller coaster” is how Muncie Central head coach Darrick Lee would later describe his team’s unusual season.

“I enjoyed every minute of it,” Lee said. “I love our kids. I love our parents. I love our community. We just have to keep wanting to get better and not be complacent.”

From the get-go, it looked like the game between the Bearcats and Spartans was going to be sloppy thanks to the weather. On the first three drives of the game, both teams turned the ball over on fumbles.

“They had to play in it just like we had to play in it,” Lee said. “They handled it better than we did and that’s something we as coaches have to prepare them for better.”

After a few defensive stops from both teams, the Bearcats were able to strike first with 4:29 left in the first quarter. 

Junior running back Shoka Griffin was able to run the ball all the way to the goal line but fumbled right before crossing. The ball was recovered in the end zone by senior lineman Jameson Beaty, followed by a two-point conversion to put them up 8-0.

That was the Bearcats’ only score until the fourth quarter, as Connersville put up 40 unanswered points before they would score with 9:25 left in the game.

“I think they came out with more energy than us in the second half,” Lee said. “They came with two full tanks of gas tonight and deserved to win tonight.”

The Bearcats graduate 18 seniors from the team.

“These seniors, I owe a lot to those guys,” Lee said. “If it weren’t for a lot of them, I probably wouldn’t have even been thought about for this job. They were the heartbeat of the team.”

Another high point of the season was when Muncie Central won two games in a row for the first time since 2018, before losing three games due to a COVID-19 situation with the team.

“I think we were rolling at the right time, then COVID struck,” Lee said. “We didn’t really get the train back on the tracks and us coaches have to be better at that.”

Despite the loss, Coach Lee saw hope for next season from his younger players’ performances last night.

“Those younger guys came in and competed hard, and that’s something for us to look forward to,” Lee said. 

The Bearcats have yet to win a postseason game since 2016.

Contact Evan Weaver with comments at erweaver@bsu.edu on Twitter at @evan_weaver7.




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