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Greg Jones

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Class 5A
Fishers (9-3) vs. Snider (12-0) at Wayne, 7:30 p.m.
Carroll (10-2) at Merrillville (10-2), 8 p.m.
Class 4A
Concord (10-2) vs. Bishop Dwenger (6-6) at Concordia, 7:30 p.m.
Class 3A
Heritage (10-2) at Mishawaka Marian (9-3), 7:30 p.m.
Class 2A
Bishop Luers (8-4) at Tipton (11-1), 7 p.m.
Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
Snider’s Alec Reuille runs the ball during the Panthers’ Class 5A sectional title game victory over North Side last week.

Snider’s road less traveled in playoffs

– If Snider and Carroll are on a collision course for a Class 5A football semistate game next week, the postseason path for both teams was navigated mainly on the road.

It’s just that the travel time was far different.

Carroll has played three of its four playoff games on the road, including two (at LaPorte and today at Merrillville) in a different time zone.

On the other hand, Snider has yet to play a game all season, including the postseason, outside Allen County.

And if the Panthers beat Fishers today at Wayne, it won’t change for the semistate because they would either play host to Merrillville or travel to Carroll.

“It’s funny the way it all works – the tiebreaking system, with the higher sectional or lower sectional,” Snider coach Kurt Tippmann said of IHSAA’s system for assigning home playoff games. “We don’t pay attention to it at the beginning, but each week, you look at the different scenarios. It is shaping up for good positioning for us.”

Snider – which plays its home games at Northrop or Wayne because the school doesn’t have a field – never left the county because all of its SAC opponents are in Fort Wayne, and the Panthers played host for nonconference games Penn and Elkhart Central.

The lack of taking a long trip to play does concern Tippmann.

“We haven’t had to make a road trip,” Tippmann said. “In years past, that hasn’t been the case. We always wanted to get that under our belts just to see how it felt, but because of the way things fell this year we didn’t do that.

“Our guys are used to getting on the bus every week. It isn’t like an away game is something different. It is the extended time and travel we would like to get used to, but right now, the way it shapes up, if we continue to win that wouldn’t happen unless we make it to the state finals.”

Carroll’s constant playoff travel is different from last year when it had three home games in the postseason.

“We laughed about it last year when we went into Sectional 2 and the potential to play LaPorte so far away in the sectional game,” Carroll coach Doug Dinan said, “to now potentially bringing the semistate game to Fort Wayne, but we are a week away from making that a reality.”

The Chargers, who won their first 5A sectional title last week (at home) against South Bend Adams, have road playoff wins at LaPorte, No. 6 Penn and are at Merrillville tonight.

“We don’t make a big deal about it,” Dinan said of the travel. “The kids have responded to that extremely well.

“The draw is the draw, and you go where you have to go. If you have aspirations for a championship, it doesn’t matter where you have to play.”

And it shows football is alive and well in Allen County as five area football teams still in the postseason hail from Allen County – Bishop Luers (2A), Heritage (3A) and Bishop Dwenger (4A) in today’s playoff games.

The three SAC schools – Dwenger, Luers and Snider – are used to making deep postseason runs, while Heritage and Carroll are relatively new to the party.

“It says football in Fort Wayne is really good,” Dinan said.

“It is not surprising that those schools go deep in the postseason because they are battle tested. That’s some of the things that we have now been through.”

Greg Jones is the High School Sports Editor for The Journal Gazette and has been covering sports in the Fort Wayne area since 1998. He can be reached by email; phone, 461-8224; or fax 461-8648.