Indiana Sports Talk
Top 5 Games of the Week
Sectional First Round
The second season begins Friday night. The 41st IHSAA state football tournament will kick off around Hoosier-land with each team dreaming big and some looking for regular season validation and others hoping for a chance at redemption. As always there are some great matchups to get the tournament started off with. At the request of Coach Bob Lovell, I have expanded this week’s list to ten games as the road to Indy on Thanksgiving weekend starts.
10. 6A #1 Penn (9-0) at Portage (6-3) Sectional 1
9. Mississinewa (6-3) at 3A #8 Western (8-1) Sectional 28
8. 3A #7 Brebeuf Jesuit (6-3) at North Montgomery (7-2) Sectional 29
7. Lawrenceburg (7-2) at 3A #10 Hamilton Heights (7-2) Sectional 30
6. 3A #5 Yorktown (8-1) at Eastbrook (7-2) Sectional 28
5. 3A #16 Indian Creek (7-2) at 3A #3 Batesville (9-0) Sectional 30
Indian Creek has been on a roll to close out the regular season. Mike Gillin’s squad has rattled off six straight wins mostly on the shoulders of their improved defense. During this six week run, the Braves have only allowed 8 points or less three times including a shutout (their second of the season). Not to be out done the offense has taken it up a notch scoring 40 points or more in the last three contests. Batesville on the other hand has been one of the most dominant teams in the state this year. The Bulldogs offense has lit up the scoreboard this season averaging 36.1 ppg, but even more impressive than that is their stingy defense. They allow an average of 7.1 ppg and have only given up 64 points total. Head coach Eric Heppner is trying to get the Bulldogs back to where they were in 2009 in winning the sectional crown after consecutive losing seasons.
4. 3A #13 Greencastle (8-1) at 3A #11 Tri-West (7-2) Sectional 29
Greencastle has had a resurgence in the three years since Josh Buis took over the program. The Tiger Cubs went 11-1 last season making it to the sectional title game. This year they are 8-1 matching up a quick strike offense with a solid defense. Since their lone blemish on the season, the Cubs have won four straight games by an average score of 41.5 to 16.25. Tri-West has also been hot as they have won six straight contests since losing two of their first three. The difference has been the defense. The Bruins have only allowed 12.3 ppg during their winning streak. Head coach Chris Coll and his team will also have some extra motivation for this game. Greencastle ended their season last year in the sectional semifinals 20-14. That game was in Greencastle last year as Tri-West will try to flip the script this time.
3. 3A #14 Delta (6-3) at 3A #6 West Lafayette (8-1) Sectional 28
Delta comes in with a record that may be slightly deceiving. The Eagles do have three losses, but all three came to ranked Hoosier Heritage Conference foes- New Palestine, Yorktown, and Mt. Vernon. The HHC turned out to be one of the most competitive leagues in the state this year. For Delta however, they need to show they are worthy of their ranking. No better time than the tournament to prove yourself. They have a good mix of offense and defense plus head coach Grant Zgunda has had past tournament success. West Lafayette will try to bounce back from a heart breaking loss in the regular season finale to LCC 27-26 in overtime. That loss also gave LCC the Hoosier Conference Championship. The Red Devils however have been one of the most consistent teams in the state. They have topped 47 points five times and have only allowed more than16 points twice. This program has been a consistent winner for a while now and they have high expectations for their tournament run after an early first round exit last year.
2. 6A #12 Avon (6-3) at 6A #2 Ben Davis (7-2) Sectional 5
Avon got off to a rocky 1-3 start, but since then they have found their way and rolled off five straight wins. Head coach Mark Bless has seen a lot in his 24 years as a head coach and found a way to turn this around. Now the Orioles will need to use some of their newfound defense prowess they have showcased over the last five games. In these five wins, Avon has not allowed more than 14 points. Ben Davis has also won five consecutive games mostly on the strength of their offense. Sinc e the return of QB Kyle Castner the Giants’ offense has taken off. They are averaging 44.2 ppg during their winning streak which included huge wins over Center Grove and Carmel. They beat Carmel last week 28-24 by scoring the final 28 points of the game and by doing so clinched a share of MIC championship. The proximity of these two schools should make the atmosphere raucous Friday night at Giant Stadium.
1. 6A #6 Carmel (6-3) at 6A #10 Hamilton Southeastern (7-2) Sectional 4
This is a huge matchup in Hamilton County to jump start the tournament. Carmel comes in off of a demoralizing loss to Ben Davis last week where they led 24-0, but saw the Giants rally for 28 unanswered points. However, with the tournament comes new life and Carmel has hopes of reaching Indy in a few weeks. To do so they will need good play from their defense which has allowed 60 points the last two weeks. Head coach Kevin Wright has only lost 8 total games since he took over the Carmel program four years ago but dropping three this year and a first round defeat in last year’s sectional has a bad taste in their mouth. Hamilton Southeastern seems to have gotten better as the season went along. Their defense is the key to their success as they have allowed 9 points or less in five games this season. HSE may also have a chip on their shoulder for this contest. County rivals Fishers and Carmel have both won state championships in the past four years. If HSE wants to break into that group, there would be no better place to start than taking down the Greyhounds.
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