The most important element of Osage's game at California this week could be how well the Indians can prevent inflicting damage upon themselves. Namely, avoiding turnovers and penalties. Following less-than-impressive halves against Versailles and Eldon, Osage will try to put four quarters of quality football together when it visits the Pintos this Friday night.


Scouting report and more inside


The most important element of Osage's game at California this week could be how well the Indians can prevent inflicting damage upon themselves. Namely, avoiding turnovers and penalties.

Following less-than-impressive halves against Versailles and Eldon, Osage will try to put four quarters of quality football together when it visits the Pintos this Friday night.

Osage is 3-2 but has struggled noticeably with penalties and turnovers since a disappointing second half against Blair Oaks on Sept. 10.

The Indians had four turnovers in their loss to Versailles on Sept. 17, including three in the second half and two in the final 10 minutes.

A week later, it was the Indians committing penalty after penalty in the first half versus Eldon. Osage had nine penalties for 75 yards in the first half alone.

"It seemed like that was all that we were doing," Osage coach Dan Henderson said of the penalties.

Osage did win its homecoming game against Eldon 25-22, but had to rally on its final drive to set up the game-winning field goal.

Henderson said his players didn't underestimate Eldon, whom the Indians beat 37-7 last season.

"We knew we were going to get their best shot," Henderson said. "They're a well-coached team and we knew they'd be up for a big game like this."

The Indians do seem to have developed a stable of running backs capable of handling the ball. Cody Maher and Donald Hudlemeyer split the bulk of the carries, but Christian Williams and Zack Purnell also had productive nights in the Osage victory over Eldon.

Scouting report

California Pintos
Coach Lance Johnston
2010 record 1-4
2009 record 4-6
History The Indians have won four of their last five against the Pintos, but the Osage senior class still recalls a 2008 trip to California that resulted in a 30-27 loss. Osage coach Dan Henderson goes for his first head coaching victory in the Pintos' backyard. California coach Lance Johnston is also in his third year at the helm of his team.

3 players to watch

California
Grant Burger, QB — In California's only win of the season (18-14 over Montgomery County), Burger completed 13-of-19 passes for 172 yards. His two touchdown passes were the key to the Pintos' comeback win. Osage will aim to disrupt Burger's rhythm early. Burger is filling in for Kaleb Borghardt, a starter who fractured a bone in his foot earlier this season.

Pedro Corona, senior TE/LB — The coaches of the Tri-County Conference unanimously selected Corona as the top tight end in the conference in 2009. Corona also contributes heavily on the Pintos defense. Osage may look to play head games with Corona, who had to serve a one-game suspension this year after he was ejected for fighting in a loss to Warsaw.

P.J. Hanoer, senior OL/DL — Coach Lance Johnston noted Hanoer’s improvement and elevated contributions on defense and offense. The honorable mention all-conference selection from a year ago will be a challenge for the Blackfoot in the trenches.

Osage
Lucas Davis, senior LB (55) — Davis possesses good situational awareness and plays with great power. Because of Osage's depth, Davis can concentrate his energy and effort on playing a swarming brand of defense.

Luke Thompson, senior WR/DB (17) — California has a defense susceptible against the pass and an offense with a history of interceptions, both ingredients needed for Thompson to have a big night. The three-sport athlete has worked on playing smarter football all season, and isn't afraid to run slants and drags over the middle.

Derek Overbey, TE/LB (2) — Overbey moves well for a 200 lb. athlete. The 3-5 defense Osage runs gives linebackers ample opportunity for playmaking, especially for aggressive defenders like Overbey. The senior all-conference honoree is also an aggressive blocker in short-yardage situations.

— Rance Burger