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The Journal Gazette

Monday, October 08, 2018 1:00 am

Possible rematches highlight draw

Coaches focus on regular-season finales, not sectionals

DAN VANCE | For The Journal Gazette

With one week left in the high school football regular season, it has become time to start talking about the playoffs. Sunday's announcement of sectional pairings laid the foundation of a long road between now and Thanksgiving weekend.

With most sectionals starting on Oct. 19, some of Class 5A and all of Class 6A will have a bye week and begin play directly with sectional semifinals on Oct. 26.

Arguably the area's most anticipated draw came in Class 4A sectional 20, featuring two of the Summit Athletic Conference's best teams in Bishop Dwenger (7-1) and Wayne (5-2). The two teams met in Week 1 of the season with the Saints taking a 22-0 win on a sloppy surface at Zollner Stadium.

If that rematch happens, it would be in a sectional final. The Saints will travel Oct. 19 to Logansport (3-5) while Wayne will visit South Side (0-8).

“It is a sectional we highly respect,” Bishop Dwenger coach Jason Garrett said. “We are focused one game at a time right now and getting better. It is a traditional focus at Bishop Dwenger to focus on ourselves and one game at a time. You learn very quickly in high school sports, if you look even a game ahead, you put yourselves in great danger.”

In between their first-round matchups and a potential championship between the two schools sit Northeast 8 teams New Haven (4-4) and Columbia City (4-4), who will match up in the opening round on Wayne's side of the bracket. On Bishop Dwenger's side, Leo (5-3) will play at Jay County (3-5) in the opening round.

The difference in the SAC was just one game – that opening night game – between the Saints and Generals until last Friday when both teams lost. Wayne was outdueled by Homestead and lost for the first time since Week 1, and Bishop Dwenger suffered its first loss of the season against Snider.

“We've got some little things that we have to fix as far as personnel and fundamentals. A nice slice of humble pie is always good, especially before the playoffs. I'd rather we do it now than in the playoffs,” Wayne coach Derrick Moore said. “Our kids know what we expect. We just look to next week instead of the big picture.”

Also in Class 4A, NE8 champion East Noble (7-1) will travel to DeKalb (5-3) on the opposite side of the bracket from Northeast Corner Conference big school champion Angola (8-0), which will visit Culver Academies (5-2) on Oct. 19.

Snider (6-2) will get a shot at redemption in Class 6A. In four-team Sectional 3, the Panthers will visit Carroll (3-5), looking to avenge a 38-14 Week 2 loss to the Chargers. Since then, the Panthers have found balance in quarterback Jon Barnes Jr. and running back A'Nyis Lockett.

In the other half of that sectional, Homestead (5-3) will travel to Northrop (3-5) in a rematch of a Week 1 game, a 45-28 Homestead win. The Bruins will enter the playoffs with their highest win total since 2012. Both of those games will be played in Week 2 of sectional play as semifinals.

Class 3A's Sectional 28 sets up a potential rematch between Bishop Luers (5-3) and Concordia (3-5), but that, too, would occur in the championship round. When the two teams met in Week 4 (a 34-31 Bishop Luers win), common belief was that game was setting up a sectional rematch.

Luers will play Heritage (2-6) in round one, with the winner facing either West Noble (6-2) or Norwell (2-6). West Noble junior Brandon Pruitt (1,156 yards) has been the best rusher in Northeast Indiana this season.

Sectional 43 is arguably Class 1A's toughest road to a title. Adams Central (8-0) will visit Northfield (4-4) on Oct. 19, with the winner facing the winner of a primetime South Adams (6-2) vs. Churubusco (7-1) matchup.

“We knew it was a tough schedule and knew no matter what the draw was, if you want to win you are going to have to beat at least two of the big dogs,” Adams Central coach Michael Mosser said. “We have to bring our A-game every game or we are going home.”

Adams Central last played Northfield in 2015 in the regional round, but the teams did scrimmage each other this past summer. On the top half of this Class 1A sectional is a meeting between Eastside (5-3) and Southwood (8-0).

A potential final meeting of Adams Central and Southwood could pit two unbeatens against each other and would be a favorite to produce northern Indiana's representative in the state finals.

“I think a lot of the time I feel more pressure than the players do, and that is really where it needs to be. Let them go out and play and do their thing,” Mosser said. “They feel pretty confident in themselves. I feel good about it, playing real well and jelling at the right time, doing things efficiently, doing things aggressively, doing things fast.”