ELITE EIGHT BOUND: KOKOMO WILDKATS WIN THIRD CONSECUTIVE FOOTBALL SECTIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

Kokomo football coach Brett Colby, surrounded by his coaching sons Cameron and Austin, celebrates a third consecutive sectional title. (SJ photo/Courtesy of Joni Colby)

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

KOKOMO, IND. – Earlier in the week, a pair of Kokomo High School football players announced they would be signing national letters of intent to play sports at an NCAA Division I institution. Days later they were celebrating a record third consecutive Wildkat football sectional championship. And despite the football success, ironically neither player will take his gridiron skills to the next level – they are both standout baseball players.

In the Class 5A Sectional 11 championship game, No. 13 Kokomo avenged an earlier season loss by upending No. 9 McCutcheon 37-7 thanks in part to the arm of Purdue baseball-bound Kyle Wade and the running of soon-to-be Louisville baseball player Jack Perkins.

According to future hall of fame coach Brett Colby, this sectional title might mean a little more that the first two considering the switch in sectional opponents this year.

“It is so satisfying. I mean, the first two were great and there was one team to beat in those sectionals (Muncie Central),” said Colby. “But this year, we had to go through two teams that had already beaten us this year. It was very sweet this year to come together and do that.”

Colby said the Wildkats are peaking at the right time of the season.

“We are putting the effort in Monday through Thursday to win games,” he said. “We had so many injuries and crazy things that have happened, but things have calmed down and we are rowing the boat easier now and not having so many waves.”

Known as a running team, the Wildkats went airborne to stun the Mavericks in Lafayette. On its opening possession, Wade hit Noah Hurlock for a 25-yard pass and Kohl Beard for another 39 yards. He then called his own number for a three-yard run up the middle for a quick Wildkat score. After the defense forced a punt, Wade again took to the sky with a 43-yard completion to Steven Edwards, a short hit to Perkins and a 15-yard scoring strike to Edwards to give the Kats a 14-0 lead.

“Cameron (Colby) and I do a lot of the offensive planning,” said Colby. “We put together some new blocking for this game because we have scored one offensive touchdown in the last eight quarters against (McCutcheon). We had to do something different. We thought we could take some shots.

“I told Cam if we got second and short we were going to throw the ball. I thought we had some speed and could outrun their secondary guys. And Kyle has the arm. So, we just had to get our pass protection solidified, and we picked it up well and it worked. And we made the catches.”

McCutcheon answered with a one-play, 85-yard touchdown run by Austin Bennett only to see Kokomo answer with another score. Starting at its own 23, Kokomo moved the ball downfield and Wade closed the drive with back-to-back completions to Edwards – the final one a 40-yard scoring strike for a 20-7 lead with 1:48 left in the first quarter.

“Our defense played well,” said Colby. “Quite a few of their yards came on one run and the last drive of the game.”

Kokomo closed the first half with a 27-7 lead after Wade found Noah Hurlock for a five-yard touchdown late in the second quarter.

Wade finished the game 11 for 14 for 241 yards passing – the seventh-best game in Wildkat history. His first passing touchdown of the game set the school record for most career touchdown passes, which now stands at 42. He already was he school’s all-time pass yardage leader and now has 3,741 career yards.

Wade was not the only player to establish a school record as Steven Edwards set the single-season touchdown reception record with 12. He finished the game with five catches for 168 yards – fourth best in school history.

Perkins added 110 yards rushing and one touchdown while Luke Cameron had 30 yards rushing. Hurlock and Beard each had 39 yards receiving. Jabrian Adams led the defense with six tackles and Noah Cameron had an interception.

The Wildkats (7-4) travel to No. 11 Zionsville (7-5) on Friday night at 7 p.m. for an Elite Eight clash in the IHSAA Class 5A Football Regional. The Eagles pulled the upset of the tournament when they knocked off No. 2 New Palestine 26-24 on the road last Friday. Zionsville hit a 48-yard field goal with 7.1 seconds remaining to shock New Pal.

“We scrimmaged them in August, so we have seen them the last two years,” said Colby. “We have been down to their place, so we have seen their kids and they have seen us. Am I surprised they beat New Pal? Not really. I thought it would be a toss-up, and it was. They are solid up front on both sides and can throw the ball. At this point, you have to lean on your defense and special teams, score when you have a chance and not turn the ball over – that is how you win these games.”

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PERFECTION! IU KOKOMO WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL RUNS THE TABLE ON RIVER STATES CONFERENCE REGULAR SEASON

KOKOMO, Ind. – Perfection has never been a word associated with Indiana University Kokomo athletics. Until now.

After starting the season 6-8 during a tough non-conference schedule, the Cougar women’s volleyball team used what they learned in the preseason and swept the competition for a perfect 16-0 River States Conference regular season. The two-time defending conference tournament champion Cougars defeated Midway University 3-0 (25-17, 25-15, 25-21) on Friday night and capped the perfect campaign on Saturday with a 3-1 win over Asbury University (25-15, 25-22, 21-25, 25-18).

On Senior Night, IU Kokomo out-hit Asbury .238 to .134 with 50 kills in 172 attacks. The Cougar offense posted six aces with defense securing three solo blocks and 18 block assists for 12 total blocks.

Leading the IU Kokomo offense, Lindi Thomas produced 18 kills and two service aces as well as 17 digs and two block assists  Nyssa Baker added 12 kills and a pair of two service aces and contributed five block assists on defense. Generating a team-high 29 assists, Casey Colgate led in the category with Sarah Morin contributing 23. Erinn Adam was a force on defense with two solo blocks and four block assists. Earning a team-high 19, Maddison Taylor tallied the game-high in digs.

“We are very excited to make history and go undefeated in conference; 16-0 is no small feat,” said IUK head coach Heather Hayes. “A special thank you to our seniors for all their dedication and commitment. They have continued to help build the foundation of success within our program.”

Against Midway, the Cougars posted almost twice as many kills than the Eagles (40-21) in almost the same number of attacks (119-120).

“We got an opportunity to play a lot of players tonight,” said Hayes. “In set three we were able to get all seven seniors on the floor at the same time which was a really nice moment.”

Lindi Thomas scored nine kills on offense while also leading in digs with 19. Freshman sensation Nyssa Baker secured seven kills for a .429 hitting percentage. Baker also put down a pair of solo blocks. On defense, Bailey Worl posted three solo blocks. Maddison Taylor earned 15 digs as well as five service aces. And posting double-figures in assists, Casey Colgate contributed 26.

The Cougars earned the No. 1 seed in the upcoming RSC Tournament. As the regular season champion, IUK is already entered into the NAIA National Championship tournament for the third consecutive year.

Story courtesy IU Kokomo and Sports Journal

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NAIA BOUND: COUGARS CLINCH RIVER STATES CONFERENCE WEST DIVISION, EARN NO. 1 SEED IN VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENT

KOKOMO, Ind. – With their 3-0 shutout of Cincinnati Christian University, the Indiana University Kokomo Volleyball team clinched the River States Conference West Division Championship, earned the number one seed in the RSC tournament and captured their third straight berth to the NAIA National Championship. They have also set a new program record with their 20th consecutive win.

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio

Opponent: Cincinnati Christian University

Scores: 25-9, 25-15, 25-20

Record: 26-8, 14-0

As a Team:

  • The Cougars generated 36 kills out of 86 total attacks, while only sacrificing eight errors for a hitting percentage of .326.
  • IU Kokomo collected six service aces.

Individually:

  • Lindi Thomas produced a team-high 13 kills as well as eight digs and a pair of service aces.
  • Maddison Taylor had eight digs as well.
  • Nyssa Baker contributed on both offense and defense with seven kills and one solo block and a block assist.
    • Also generating seven kills was Elyse Younger hitting .462 for the match .
  • Leading in assists, Casey Colgate put up 13, while Mary Westover finishing second in the category with 11.

Thoughts from Head Coach Heather Hayes:

“I am extremely excited and proud of our players for their accomplishment! They set the goal to win conference and make the national tournament again from the beginning of the season. We still have to finish out our regular season but happy that we were able to seize this goal before regular season finished.”

What’s Next:

The Cougars will look to finish out their regular season with a pair of home games this weekend, first against Midway on Friday, November 3rd at 7:00 pm and then on Saturday, November 4th at 12:00 pm for the final regular season game of the year and Senior Day.

“We are looking forward to celebrating in front of our home crowd this weekend with our final 2 home matches!”

Courtesy of IU Kokomo Athletics

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