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FOOTBALL: 2012 Sectional Preview

CLASS 5A SECTIONAL #1

The Favorites

Chesterton – The Trojans are entering pretty much unseen territory of their program as they have to be considered one of, if not the favorite(s) heading into the sectional following an 8-1 regular season. Keep in mind, this is a team that has NEVER won a sectional title, but with an opening round game against Michigan City a trip to the semi-finals is all but certain where they’ll take on Merrillville, who they beat last week, but were eliminated by in last year’s semis.

 

MerrillvilleMerrillville hasn’t won a sectional since 2009, which for them, constitutes a drought. Despite the loss to Chesterton last week, we still have no questions about the Pirate offense, but their defense is a different story as they’ve given up 40 or more in two out of their last three outings. Teams that go far in the post-season tend to have stout defensive units as the tournament moves forward. Can the Pirates buck the trend?

 

Lake CentralThe Indians are teetering on the edge of being moved from “The Favorites” grouping to being listed among the “Dark Horses” because of the uncertainty surrounding David Yancey. Luckily for LC, they got a pretty nice draw as they won’t see either Merrillville or Chesterton until the sectional championship. But first they have to get past Portage than either CP or Valpo. With Yancey, that should be no problem. Without…

 

The Dark Horses

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Crown Point – The surprise winners of Sectional #1 in 2011, Crown Point can’t be counted out and because of a draw that saw them get 3-6 Valpo in the first round and a potentially Yancey-less LC in the semis, a trip to the finals isn’t a totally crazy idea and as we saw with their win over Merrillville last year, anything can happen in that championship game.

 

ValparaisoHold on. A 3-6 team listed as a dark horse? Well, like Crown Point, their draw really helps them out in that LC, Merrillville & Chesterton are all avoided in the opener. The Vikings may be better than their record as well as they played LC pretty tough last week and they lost to first round opponent CP by only a touchdown. The chances of a sectional championship run are slim here, but they are present enough to give them consideration.

 

Time to Turn in the Pads

PortageA first round victory over LC (which Chris Lannin predicts HERE) would be an upset, even if Yancey doesn’t suit up for the Blue Indians, but an even bigger upset would be a longer run in the playoffs. The Red Indians got blown out by both CP & Valpo, both potential second round opponents.

 

Michigan CityThe win over LC is as good as it was going to get for Michigan City this season. A draw Munster or Portage may have presented the opportunity for a second round game, but against Chesterton? Not so much.

 

MunsterIs there a team in the state that is happier that Class 6A begins in 2013? Yeah, I didn’t think so either.

 

 

CLASS 4A SECTIONAL #9

The Favorite

East Chicago Central – Unlike Sectional #1, we have a clear cut favorite in Sectional #9 as the Cardinals have well positioned themselves as the team to beat. With an 8-1 record, and four of those wins coming over teams in this sectional, like Chesterton EC has a chance to win their first sectional title. Oddly enough, the biggest stumbling block might be their opener against Hammond High.

 

The Dark Horses

Hammond High – How much does Hammond High wish they were in the bottom half of this bracket? With the opener against EC Central, who beat the Wildcats in the season opener, and if they get past them, a re-match against rival Morton. A much tougher task than facing either Griffith, Highland, Roosevelt or West Side. The Wildcats turned the ball over a handful of times against the Cardinals in the opener, so while that won’t likely happen again, will it be enough to overcome the 26 point difference?

 

West SideThe Cougars quietly won three out of their last four to finish with a 5-4 record on the season. While they seem to be playing their best football right now, what really puts them into the Dark Horse category is their draw. They open with Roosevelt, who they just beat by 51 points and then face either a depleted Griffith team or Highland in the semis. Don’t be remotely surprised if West Side is playing in the sectional championship.

 

Morton – Morton is the three time defending sectional champions, which is one of the reasons they are in this Dark Horse spot – you have to give them the benefit of the doubt (which there are plenty of). A potential Morton-EC Central semi-final matchup is interesting as well because these two teams didn’t square off in the regular season and the Govs may have the athleticism to matchup with EC.

 

GriffithWould the Panthers be listed as a Dark Horse with a different writer of this piece? You can make the argument that they’d be one tier lower, but hear me out. Despite more wounded than an episode of MASH, and a significant drop-off from last season, Griffith hasn’t reached the nadir that is Highland just yet and they’ve never lost to West Side, so a trip to the sectional championship isn’t a totally homer thought.

 

Time to Turn in the Pads

Roosevelt – After taking over the team just a few weeks before the season started and facing a rotating door of suspended players, you can make the case that Jeff Karras did a pretty darn good job at Roosevelt this year in winning three games, their most since 2007. But, unless there’s a dramatic change from Week #9 in which they lost to West Side by 51, the Panthers’ post-season run will be short.

 

ClarkIt was as trying time for Jay Novak in his first season as a head coach as his team only eked out one win. With his team taking on Morton in the first round, there’s not much to look forward to except for a full off-season in which to prepare for 2013.

 

Highland – Clark has a young coach. Roosevelt has a coach with a track record of success. Highland has neither.

 

 

CLASS 4A SECTIONAL #10

The Favorites

Kankakee ValleyThe Kougars haven’t won a sectional title since 1985 and this is their best chance since that year to bring home some hardware. If they can get out of the first round that is. If KV can survive Hobart (again) they’ll have another tough test against either Mishawaka or Lowell, but would still be favored and same with any of their potential championship opponents.

 

HobartThe denizens of Hobart are starving for a sectional title after not winning once since 1997. There may have been better Hobart teams in that time span, but I can’t think of any that have this amount of expectations behind them. Will they live up to them? Well, that remains to be seen, but a win over one of the teams that has already handed them a loss will only make the excitement, and expectations, grow.

 

New Prairie – Coincidence that the arrival of Russ Radtke brings about a five win increase, making New Prairie a legit contender in this sectional? Probably not. But while the Cougars play a schedule filled with teams a class or two below them, their draw with SB Clay in the first and either SB Washington or SB Riley in the second paves a pretty clear road to the sectional championship.

 

The Dark Horses

LowellAfter a run of seven straight sectional titles, Lowell hasn’t won a playoff game in three years. That may not change this year as they take on Mishawaka in the opener, but the Devils are going to be a tough out for any opponent. Why? Because they run the ball well and play good defense. Usually a recipe for success this time of year.

 

MishawakaThe Cavemen aren’t the same team that was winning 11 or 12 games a season just a few years ago, but they are the same team that won six games in the regular season before making a run to the sectional championship where they lost to SB Washington last year. Guess what? Mishawaka won six again this year and there’s no team the caliber of the 2011 Washington squad this year…

 

SB Clay – While the Colonials have only beaten one team with a record above .500 this year, they have to be considered a Dark Horse because if they get past New Prairie, they take on either Riley or Washington – two teams they’ve already beaten.

 

Time to Turn in the Pads

SB Washington – Not many teams can overcome the amount of talent & coaching that Washington lost from last year’s 4A runner-up, but to fall to a 1-8 season is surprising.

SB Riley – Riley hasn’t had a .500 season since 2000 or played in the sectional championship since 1997. Neither of those facts will change.

 

 

CLASS 3A SECTIONAL #17

We’re just going to breeze through Sectional #17 because let’s be honest, the more unsaid about the Region’s chances here, the better off we are.

The Favorites

SB St. Joseph
Mishawka Marian
Culver Academy

The Dark Horse

John Glenn

Time to Turn in the Pads

Gavit
Lew Wallace
Calumet
Knox


CLASS 2A SECTIONAL #25

The Favorite

Andrean – The 59ers have some post-season demons to exorcise and it all starts with getting past this year’s first round opponent Wheeler, who upset Andrean in the opener a year ago. If Andrean can get past the Bearcats? Should be relatively smooth sailing to Regionals, but we said the same thing last year too…

 

The Dark Horses

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Wheeler – What a difference six weeks makes. The Bearcats looked like roadkill following the first three games of the season, but they’ve since rattled of six wins in a row and have positioned themselves nicely as potential post-season spoilers.

 

Rensselaer Central – Yeah, the Bombers are 4-5, but their losses came to teams with a combined 33-12 record, so this team may be better than you think. Plus, with North Newton in the opener (who they beat by 49 in Week #2) and either Bowman or River Forest in the second, Rensselaer is almost a lock for the sectional championship.

 

Time to Turn in the Pads

River ForestUnable to build off of the momentum of last year’s 7-4 season, the Ingots struggled this year, going 3-6, but in actuality 2-6 as one of their wins came by forfeit. River Forest may advance to the second round as Bowman is struggling as well, but that’s as far as they’ll go.

 

Bowman – No Antonio Pipkin, no chance to play spoiler. Simple as that.

North NewtonA surprise entrant into the sectional championship last season, don’t look for another run from the Spartans, unless they’ve gotten 49 points better vs. Rensselaer Central compared to their early season matchup.

 

Boone Grove – A season that started off with such promise really hit the skids when Cody Poyner went down with a knee injury. But on the bright side, the program’s first sectional win looks likely as they play Lake Station in the opener.

 

Lake Station – Speaking of the Eagles, a win over arch-rival River Forest back in August will probably be the highlight of the season, unless they can get out of the first round for the first time since 2008.

 

 

CLASS 1A SECTIONAL #33

The Favorites

Whiting – “Win 33”. That’s it.

West Central – The luster of a Whiting-West Central semi-final was muddied a little bit as the Trojans lost to Pioneer in Week #9, but there’s no doubt that the Oilers vs. the Trojans in the second round is the de facto sectional championship.

 

The Dark Horses

South Central – The blind draw may have not hurt a team with a legitimate chance to win a sectional more than it did South Central. Unfortunately for the Satellites, they aren’t in the half of the bracket with only one team above .500. They play an undefeated team in Whiting that’s already beat them by 34. And if they somehow advance? A matchup against West Central. They’re in this spot as a nod to Dan Klimczak who did a great job of last minute coaching this year.

 

Winamac – That one team in the top half of the bracket that has a winning mark is Winamac as they play Tri-County and then either South Newton or Bishop Noll. A trip to the finals looks likely.

 

Time to Turn in the Pads

Bishop Noll – The Warriors have improved as the season has gone on, winning three out of their last four, but they haven’t made enough strides to be a real contender for the title.

South NewtonLast year’s sectional champions have fallen on hard times this year, with only three wins entering the post-season.

Tri-County – It’s been a rough year for the Cavaliers as they enter the post-season at 1-8 and only one of their eight losses have come by single digits. With a first round showdown against Winamac, at least it will be over soon.

 

Culver – Culver has appeared in three consecutive Sectional #33 championship games, but that streak will almost assuredly come to an end as they drew West Central in the opening round.

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