For the Daily Journal

ROACHDALE

Indian Creek kicked off the Brett Cooper coaching era with a bang, scoring on its first offensive play and pulling away for a 34-10 win at North Putnam on Friday.

After stuffing the home-standing Cougars on the first series, Indian Creek wasted little time in taking the lead, getting a touchdown on a 62-yard pitch and catch from quarterback Taylor Voris to receiver Jacob Pilon for an early 6-0 lead.

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It took a few series for the Braves to score again, but once they found their rhythm, they began to take control.

“We came out and I think our kids were maybe a little too excited and a little too riled up,” Cooper said. “But I’d rather have that than have to try to get them up to play. But they settled down and started executing and moving the football. We got a couple of stops there and we rolled them.”

North Putnam (0-1) hung close early, getting a short field goal and a touchdown late in the second quarter, but the Braves rode the stout shoulders of junior running back Avery Welch to lead 21-10 at the half.

Welch carried Indian Creek to its second touchdown of the game, capping off a nine-play, 74-yard drive with a 5-yard plunge and added the two-point conversion to put the Braves ahead 14-3. Welch accounted for 47 yards on the drive.

After North Putnam pulled to within four (14-10) on a 4-yard Hayden Rudes quarterback keeper, Welch put the Braves back up 11 with a 6-yard score just over two minutes before the half.

Indian Creek (1-0) kept up pressure in the second half and used its running game to put the game away.

Michael Perkins did the heavy lifting for the Braves on their first drive of the third quarter, but it was Welch who got the score, barreling in from 15 yards out to put Creek ahead 27-10.

Perkins finally got his chance to reach the end zone early in the fourth quarter. After Welch ripped off a 46-yard run on third down, Perkins collected a total of 24 yards on the next three plays, ending with a 1-yard dive to cap the scoring.

Welch finished the game with 130 yards on just 10 carries and got stronger as the game wore on.

“He’s just a tough kid,” Cooper said of Welch. “We’re a 3A football team and kids are going to have to play both ways. We just needed to keep him fresh and it looked like we stayed fresher than they did. Luckily we have two good backs, and Avery was just stronger than everybody else.”

Creek’s defense took over from there. The Braves sacked Rudes three times in the second half and recorded a pair of takeaways — a recovered fumble by Cameron Elmore after a Zeke Davidson strip sack and a Matt Coy interception — to end any hopes of a North Putnam comeback.

Indian Creek returns home next week for the first of back-to-back home games, starting with county rival Greenwood. The Braves then host Owen Valley the following week.