ZIONSVILLE - It was a big win for the Zionsville football team last Friday to claim the Sectional 5 title in come-from-behind fashion against Brownsburg.
But that is now in the past. The Eagles haven't let the excitement from that win effect their preparation for this week's regional contest against Ben Davis, and have been solely focused on how to beat the Giants and claim their first regional title since 2000.
"We challenged them at the beginning of the week because the next game is here," Zionsville head coach Scott Turnquist said. "We weren't going to be focusing on last week, regardless of what happened. A lot of people were excited in the community, congratulating them and that's awesome, but we have a job to do this Friday and they have handled that really well."
Turnquist said that the Eagles are playing with a lot of confidence right now as they get ready for the regional.
The Eagles were just 3-6 in the regular season, but played well down the stretch against a tough schedule that featured three-straight top-10 opponents.
"It is something that has been building for a while," Turnquist said. "We got to a position where we were playing really well, just couldn't get over the hump late in the regular season. The last couple of weeks is just validation for all the work they have put in, not only physically, but mentally as well. It was a good win for them, but they were a confident team before that too."
One thing that should help the Eagles is that they have played a challenging schedule and will be prepared for anything the Giants have.
The Eagles played the 16th toughest schedule in the state, according to Sagarin, and that ranking goes up when you take out the Week 2 game against 115th ranked Lebanon.
"This is the time of the year where that comes back to help you," Turnquist said. "Our kids aren't going to be surprised by anything. They have seen a lot of great football teams and players. They know what it takes to be successful, and now we just have to go our and execute to the best of our ability."
Ben Davis comes into the game scoring 30.5 points a game, while the Zionsville defense is allowing 28.3.
The Giants are stronger running than passing, but have a balanced passing attack that has six players with at least 17 receptions.
Quarterback Trent Gipson is 124 of 205 for 1,350 yards, 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He has added 834 rushing yards and 11 scores.
Running back Alijawn Hassell has 196 carries for 1,206 yards and 12 scores.
"They run the ball really well, and they have a great complimentary passing game," Turnquist said. "Their quarterback is a really, really good runner that we have to contain, as is their running back. They do a good job of upfront of scheming the way the need to in order to get guys in space. That is going to be a key for us."
Zionsville's offense is scoring 26.6 points a game, with the Giants defense allowing 22.8.
The Eagles offense is coming off their second-highest scoring game of the season, and have averaged 35.8 points a game the last four weeks.
"They are really well coached, aggressive and athletic," Turnquist said of the Giants defense. "They fly around and tackle really well. They make plays all over the field, so we have to take care of the ball for sure."
The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. kick-off at Zionsville.
The Eagles have 16 wins at home the past four years, compared to just eight on the road.
Turnquist is hoping for another home-field advantage Friday night.
"It's invaluable to have your community behind you," Turnquist said. "That adds an extra boost. We have a great community here, a lot of support and we feel loved from top to bottom from our administration, fans, family and everybody. It's been great to see and hopefully they come out tomorrow night."