Throughout this week your trusty furry pal Blitz will delve deeper into each sectional in the area – from which teams look like legit contenders to players to watch.
Today we are checking out Sectional 19 of Class 4A.
Angola ended the Panthers’ season a year ago in this sectional, concluding a four-loss season.
This season, NorthWood is undefeated and No. 1 in Class 4A, according to the pollsters.
Competing with the Panthers comes down to one thing, slowing down the run. The offense averages close to 300 yards per game on the ground. Senior Bronson Yoder leads the way with 1,307 yards and 17 scores, but there are several other capable backs.
The defense is as good as any in the sectional.
While NorthWood’s body of work is impressive, factor in Blitz’s opinion that the Northern Lakes was down this year. While Warsaw shined, teams like Plymouth, Northridge, Concord and Goshen are not as strong as in years past.
Here we go again.
Last year, the Hornets took us all on a magical ride to regional, winning the program’s first sectional crown in a quarter of a century.
One year later, Coach Andy Thomas’s team is once again undefeated heading into a difficult sectional.
The offense has been exceptional, but has rarely been challenged for the majority of the season. The defense is improved from a year ago and is playing with a swagger not seen a year ago.
But there is still a touch of unknown here. Computer algorithms aren’t everything, but the Sagarin Ratings have Angola with the worst strength of sectional in the entire sectional. Translation: Are the Hornets as good as their record indicates?
EAST NOBLE (8-1)
Junior Bailey Parker enters the playoffs with over 2,100 yards of total offense, including 1,351 passing yards.
That’s just one of a myriad of offensive weapons that East Noble will deploy in the playoffs, a unit that was rarely checked in the NE8.
The draw is tough. A trip to DeKalb this week will be followed (with a win) to a game at home against NorthWood. It’s a tough road, but one perfectly achievable for this team.
CULVER ACADEMY (6-2)
You can bet the Eagles are eager to avenge a one-point loss to Angola in overtime last year in sectional play. And Culver is perfectly capable of doing so.
This is a team that has not given up more than 17 points in a game all season long. Losses to Hobart and Brebeuf are far from being letdowns.
The one question is the offense, a unit that is scoring under 20 points a game. Can it match a team on the scoreboard if need be? With that D, it may not have to, at least in the sectional.
With any other draw, Plymouth would likely be in the “contenders” category, but the Rockies go to NorthWood on Friday, a team they lost to by 48 points just a week ago.
Look past the Barons at your own risk. This is a team that has proven it can grind out wins (just ask Columbia City) and be a pest to others (New Haven, Angola).
Blitz anticipates a good showing by DeKalb on Friday against East Noble. It wouldn’t be the biggest shock in the world to see the Barons pull the upset.
But when it comes to DeKalb winning this sectional, it is a long shot.
The Raiders went undefeated last year in the regular season before being bounced by Culver to open the playoffs.
A favorable draw will put this team in the sectional semis, but tough to see more than one win.
Former Eastside coach Mike Eschbach has had his hands full with the Warriors this season. The team finally got a victory in a Week 9 conquest of Goshen.
In a stacked sectional, Wawasee’s chances are slim to none.