BY DEAN HOCKNEY
The largest high school tournament of the year had its brackets drawn Sunday at the IHSAA headquarters, and Howard County squads received mixed news. The 40th Annual IHSAA Football State Tournament, presented by the Indianapolis Colts, has a field of 315 schools divided into five classes for the 2012 season. Starting next year, football will be divided into six classes based on new enrollment figures that will be determined in 2013.
Sectional play begins on Friday, Oct. 19, for all but five teams who drew a bye in their respective seven-team sectional. Those teams will play on the road on Oct. 26 in the sectional semifinal round. Forty sectional champions will be crowned on Nov. 2, while regional games will be played on Nov. 9 and semi-states on Nov. 16. The following is a breakdown of sectionals involving Howard County squads. In the first round, the second team listed is the home team, unless both schools agree to switch sites.
CLASS 5A SECTIONAL 3
Game 1: Fort Wayne North (6-2) at Fort Wayne Northrop (4-4); Game 2: Fort Wayne South (2-6) at Huntington North (4-4); Game 3: Fort Wayne Wayne (1-7) at Kokomo (6-2); Game 4: No. 9 Homestead (8-0) at No. 4 Fort Wayne Snider (8-0); Game 5: Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2; Game 6: Winner of Game 3 vs. Winner of Game 4; Championship Game 7: Winner of Game 5 vs. Winner of Game 6.
In a rematch of last year’s sectional opener, the Wildkats received a great first game draw and will play Fort Wayne Wayne at Walter Cross Field. A year ago, the Kats dominated the Generals 52-0, and nothing should change this year. Wayne’s lone win came in week two in a 28-7 victory over South Bend Riley (1-7). The Generals average just 17 points per game, although they took Fort Wayne North into double overtime last Friday night before losing 33-31.
Kokomo really wants to turn its sectional struggles around – they have one sectional title (1985) and have lost 14 of its last 17 sectional games. Things did turn around last year as they defeated Wayne and upset undefeated Homestead 44-41 on a last second field goal on the road. That sent the Kats into the Sweet Sixteen, where Snider knocked the Kats out of the playoffs for the third consecutive season.
CLASS 3A SECTIONAL 19
Game 1: Peru (3-5) at Eastbrook (5-3); Game 2: Yorktown (3-5) at Bellmont (4-4); Game 3: Mississinewa (6-2) at Blackford (0-8); Game 4: Maconaquah (2-6) at Western (4-4); Game 5: Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2; Game 6: Winner of Game 3 vs. Winner of Game 4; Championship Game 7: Winner of Game 5 vs. Winner of Game 6.
If the Panthers can find a consistent passing attack and aggressive defense to complement its strong ground game, they could walk home with a sectional title despite a down regular season. The Panthers drew Maconaquah in the opener, a team they beat 49-27 in week six. A second win over the Braves should pit the Panthers against Mississinewa – a team that started the season 5-0 but has lost two of its last three games (including a 38-7 loss last Friday night to a 3-5 Madison-Grant squad). Both games are winnable for Western, and that would potentially set up for a rematch against Eastbrook – a team that defeated the Panthers 33-16 in week two at Lucas Oil Stadium.
CLASS 2A SECTIONAL 28
Game 1: Seeger (4-4) at No. 4 Tipton (7-1); Game 2: Northwestern (6-2) at Taylor (0-8); Game 3: Benton Central (3-5) at No. 9 Fountain Central (7-1); Game 4: Delphi (3-5) at Eastern (1-7); Game 5: Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2; Game 6: Winner of Game 3 vs. Winner of Game 4; Championship Game 7: Winner of Game 5 vs. Winner of Game 6.
Three Howard County teams make up the eight-team field in Sectional 28. Of the three, none have an easy road to the finals as Tipton and Fountain Central – a pair of 7-1 teams – are on opposite sides of the bracket.
Northwestern and Taylor drew each other and will play at Taylor. The Tigers defeated the Titans 54-13 on Sep. 14 and there is no reason that shouldn’t happen again. That would move Northwestern into a tough home game against Tipton, whose only loss is to Class A No. 1 and perennial powerhouse Lafayette Central Catholic. A win over Tipton will take a near perfect game from the Purple Pride.
For Eastern, the draw was about as good as it could get in the first round as they play a Delphi team that is 0-2 versus the sectional field. Two of Delphi’s losses came against ranked teams – 52-7 to Lafayette Central Catholic and 42-0 to previously ranked West Lafayette. But two also came against Rensselaer Central (3-5) and Benton Central. A win by Eastern would mean a game against Fountain Central – a team with one loss to undefeated 1A No. 6 North Vermillion in a 25-21 thriller.
LEWIS CASS AND TRI-CENTRAL
Class 2A Sectional 26 – Bremen (5-3) at No. 7 Lewis Cass (7-1): Except for a 45-7 loss to Class 3A No. 4 Hamilton Heights, Lewis Cass has played near perfection. They had a key win over then-ranked West Lafayette and dropped Northwestern by three touchdowns. Bremen is no pushover, and its third loss of the season was a 21-6 loss at the hands of undefeated and Class 3A No. 1-ranked Jimtown (8-0). Class 4A No. 9 New Prairie (7-1) and 3A Tippecanoe Valley (6-2) also downed the Lions, so Cass will need to bring it’s A game to its sectional opener.
Class 1A Section 36 – Wes-Del (1-6) at No. 10 Tri-Central (8-0): Tri-Central rolled past Wes-Del last Friday night 53-0, so game one should be a breeze. Game two would be against the winner of Lapel (1-7) and South Adams (1-7), so a matchup in the sectional finals with either previous-ranked Union City (6-2) or No. 11 Sheridan (4-4) is a likely scenario. This could be the year for the Trojans first sectional title since 1991 – and only second overall.
The 10 teams that earn a berth in the state finals will play on Thanksgiving weekend in Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Colts. The Class A and 2A championship games are scheduled for Friday, November 23, with the 3A, 4A and 5A games the next day. In all, 310 games will be played around the state over the six-week tournament.