Home > Insider previews local football sectionals | USA Today High School Sports

Insider previews local football sectionals | USA Today High School Sports

Say what you will about Indiana’s football playoff system – to me, it makes little sense not to incorporate some sort of seeding process – it is about to get fun.

Longtime Carmel resident Jack Badger gave a thumbs up to Carmel football players after they won their game against Warren Central on Oct. 9.

Longtime Carmel resident Jack Badger gave a thumbs up to Carmel football players after they won their game against Warren Central on Oct. 9.

Because there is no seeding, we get games like Hamilton Southeastern-Fishers and Western Boone-West Lafayette on the first night of the tournament. It gets real right out of the gate. So let’s get to it. Here’s a class-by-class look at the area football sectionals:

Class 6A

Sectional 4

The matchups: Hamilton Southeastern (8-1) at Fishers (6-3); Noblesville (3-6) at Carmel (7-2)

The skinny: HSE is dangerous, as talented at the skill positions as anyone in the field. But the Royals have a tough road with Fishers and likely No. 2 Carmel in the next round.

The pick: Carmel. First-year coach John Hebert’s program has won the sectional seven of the past nine seasons. It reached the state championship all seven times, winning twice.

Sectional 5

The matchups: Ben Davis (5-4) at Pike (4-5); Avon (7-2) at Brownsburg (4-5)

The skinny: This sectional will light up the scoreboard. Brownsburg (43.2) and Avon (39.7), lead Class 6A in scoring offense. Ben Davis (34.6) and Pike (29.6) aren’t bad offensively, either.

The pick: Avon. The Orioles lost 49-42 to Ben Davis way back in August. But Avon has been the most consistent on both sides of the ball of the four teams in this bracket.

Sectional 6

The matchups: Cathedral (6-3) at Lawrence Central (3-6); North Central (0-9) at Lawrence North (2-7)

The skinny: Cathedral would appear to be a solid favorite, but beating Lawrence Central and Lawrence North won’t be a cakewalk. The Irish shut down Lawrence Central’s offense in a 32-14 season-opening win.

The pick: Cathedral. A strong running game and defense are good indicators of tournament success. The Irish have both.

Sectional 7

The matchups: Warren Central (6-3) at Perry Meridian (5-4); Franklin Central (3-6) at Southport (7-2), Saturday

The skinny: The Warren Central Invitational? No, it’s a tougher field than it might appear. Perry Meridian is rushing for 223 yards a game. Franklin Central has won three in a row after some close losses. And Southport has won back-to-back sectional titles and has a big-time offense.

The pick: Warren Central. Last week’s win over Cincinnati St. Xavier proves the Warriors could be poised for a special run.

Center Grove High School senior Joey Siderewcz (1) celebrated the team's victory over Cathedral with senior Devon Wilson (3) after the game Oct. 16

Center Grove High School senior Joey Siderewcz (1) celebrated the team’s victory over Cathedral with senior Devon Wilson (3) after the game Oct. 16

Sectional 8

The matchups: Jeffersonville (5-4) at New Albany (4-5); Center Grove (9-0) at Columbus North (6-3)

The skinny: Center Grove is the clear favorite.

The pick: Center Grove. The top-ranked Trojans rolled Columbus North 54-7 last year in the sectional.

Class 5A (all games except for Columbus East-Franklin are next week)

Sectional 11

The matchups: McCutcheon (6-3) at Lafayette Jeff (7-2); West Lafayette Harrison (4-5) at Westfield (5-4)

The skinny: Westfield had lost four in a row before knocking off Brebeuf Jesuit 24-21 in the season finale. But all of those losses were to 6A teams. The Shamrocks are the favorite as they seek a third consecutive sectional title.

The pick: Westfield. McCutcheon was unbeaten last year and lost to Westfield by three touchdowns.

Sectional 13

The matchups: Plainfield (5-4) at Decatur Central (7-2); Zionsville (3-6) at Tech (4-5)

The skinny: Is this the year Decatur Central ends a sectional title drought that dates to 2005?

The pick: Zionsville. The Eagles have lost five in a row but all against 6A programs.

Sectional 14

The matchups: Columbus East (9-0) at Franklin (1-8); Martinsville (0-9) at New Palestine (9-0); Whiteland (7-2) vs. Columbus East-Franklin winner

The skinny:  Wow, great field here. New Pal and Columbus East are ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, and played in a classic last year in a 4A semistate game (a 30-28 New Pal win). Whiteland is ranked No. 6 and won the Mid-State Conference outright.

The pick: New Palestine. No reason to doubt the Dragons at this point.

Class 4A

Sectional 21

The matchups: Lebanon (2-7) at Western (2-7); Frankfort (5-4) at Roncalli (5-4); Greenwood (5-4) at Beech Grove (6-3); Northview (9-0) at Mooresville (5-4)

The skinny: Northview’s unbeaten record is impressive but the team hasn’t played a great schedule. Greenwood-Beech Grove should be one of the better games Friday.

The pick: Roncalli. Bruce Scifres’ team has been up and down but closed strong with three wins and played a tough schedule.

Sectional 22

The matchups: Jay County (4-5) at Mt. Vernon (5-4); Pendleton Heights (3-6) at Connersville (1-8); Delta (6-3) at Greenfield-Central (4-5); Richmond (5-4) at New Castle (1-8)

The skinny: Delta looks like the best team but only defeated Mt. Vernon and Pendleton Heights by a combined nine points.

The pick: Mt. Vernon. The Marauders are a couple of plays away from being 7-2.

Sectional 23

The matchups: Silver Creek (5-4) at Madison (0-9); Franklin County (6-3) at Seymour (3-6); East Central (7-2) at South Dearborn (3-6); Shelbyville (8-1) at Jennings County (6-3)

The skinny: Shelbyville is looking for its first sectional title and has its best chance since 2009, when it lost 21-17 to East Central in the sectional championship.

The pick: East Central.

Class 3A

Sectional 28

The matchups: Tipton (5-4) at Twin Lakes (5-4); North Montgomery (6-3) at Benton Central (1-8); Hamilton Heights (6-3) at Crawfordsville (3-6); West Lafayette (8-1) at Western Boone (8-1)

The skinny: This is a loaded sectional with one of the top-first round matchups with No. 3 West Lafayette at No. 8 Western Boone.

The pick: West Lafayette. Not an easy route for the Red Devils.

Sectional 29

The matchups: Greencastle (1-8) at Guerin Catholic (7-2); Brebeuf Jesuit (5-4) vs. Bishop Chatard (5-3), at Tech; Tri-West (6-3) at Danville (2-7); Northwest (5-4) at West Vigo (6-3)

The skinny: Another brutally tough sectional. Defending state champion Tri-West is arguably the fourth-best team.

The pick: Bishop Chatard. But not an easy pick. The Trojans’ route could be Brebeuf, Guerin and Tri-West.

Sectional 30

The matchups: Marshall (0-9) at Greensburg (4-5); Rushville (1-8) at Lawrenceburg (5-4); Batesville (8-1) at Manual (3-6); Indian Creek (6-3) at Washington (1-7)

The skinny: Batesville hasn’t won a sectional since 2009, but probably goes in as the favorite.

The pick: Indian Creek. The Braves have recovered after a 1-3 start.

Class 2A

Sectional 37

The matchups: Heritage Christian (7-2) at Broad Ripple (1-8); Speedway (2-7) at Frankton (4-5); Scecina (4-5) at Lapel (4-5); Park Tudor (1-8) vs. Cardinal Ritter (5-4), at Marian

The skinny: This sectional is filled with teams that have played tougher schedules than most in Class 2A.

The pick: Cardinal Ritter. The Raiders lost to Monrovia in last year’s sectional but the Bulldogs have moved to Sectional 39.

Sectional 38

The matchups: Union County (3-6) at Triton Central (5-4); Centerville (0-9) at Switzerland County (0-9); Northeastern (7-2) at Eastern Hancock (9-0); Milan (4-5) at Howe (6-3)

The skinny: A potential Eastern Hancock-Howe matchup next week would be one of the games of the year in 2A.

The pick: Eastern Hancock. Other than Monrovia, the Royals have been the area’s best 2A team this year.

Sectional 39

The matchups: Mitchell (2-7) at Monrovia (8-1); Southmont (2-7) at South Vermillion (3-6); Paoli (2-7) at Cascade (4-5); North Putnam (7-2) at Cloverdale (1-8)

The skinny: This looks like Monrovia’s best team since the 2009 group made it to the state finals.

The pick: Monrovia. The Bulldogs may not get much of a challenge from this field.

Class A

Sectional 45

The matchups: North Vermillion (8-1) at Turkey Run (2-7); Riverton Parke (0-9) at Covenant Christian (2-4); South Putnam (6-3) at Sheridan (3-6); Fountain Central (7-2) at Rockville (4-5)

The skinny: Covenant Christian plays its first sectional game as a program and has a chance to win. Its prize would be a matchup with defending state champion North Vermillion.

The pick: North Vermillion.

Sectional 46

The matchups: Hagerstown (5-4) at Tri (2-7); Shortridge (2-6) at Cambridge City Lincoln (3-6); Lutheran (5-4) at Knightstown (2-7); Tindley (1-5) at Indiana Deaf (7-2)

The skinny: Lutheran should be well-prepared after playing bigger schools all season.

The pick: Lutheran. The Saints won a regional title for the first time last year.

Sectional 47

The matchups: South Decatur (5-4) at Eastern Greene (7-2); Oldenburg Academy (6-3) at Edinburgh (2-7); Springs Valley (5-4) at North Decatur (6-3); West Washington (9-0) vs. South Decatur-Eastern Greene winner

The skinny: Edinburgh is the lone local team in the field.

The pick: West Washington.

Call Star reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.

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