Hardware was handed out on fields across Indiana on Friday night with sectional champions crowned.
Locally, five teams captured titles and are preparing for regionals.
But before we look ahead, Blitz wants to look back on the night that was.
SNIDER VS. HOMESTEAD
When Snider went into the halftime break down 14 points, anyone with a sense of history knew that the game was far from over. That was proven right when the Panthers outscored Homestead 35-7 in the second half to win its 12th straight sectional title.While the defense struggled in the first half, it was that unit that jumpstarted Snider after the break. A three-and-out by the Spartans to open the third quarter led to a punt and a Panthers drive that culminated in the first of three A’Nyis Lockett touchdown runs.The two interceptions in the fourth quarter by Jayshawn Underwood and Quiyon Carter led to the go-ahead and game-clinching scores. Incessant pressure from Bam Scott and Gianini Belizaire made life difficult for the Homestead offense when the game was on the line.
Collectively, Snider came together.
But it wasn’t just the defense. Jon Barnes Jr. took another massive step forward in his development on Friday.While he is still growing into his role, he is a junior. An entire season behind center for the Panthers prepared him for games like Friday. The real question out of half was if Barnes Jr. was capable of making the plays to bring Snider back.The quarterback did just that. A long completion downfield set up one score, while a 14-yard connection with J.D. Wells tied the game at 35 with 9:28 left in the fourth quarter.Barnes is still susceptible to throwing up passes in hopes his receiver comes down with it, as well as rushing throws, but he made some good plays in the clutch on Friday.
Homestead had alternated junior Jake Archbold and sophomore Luke Goode all season long at quarterback, but it was Goode who got the nod with the game on the line on Friday, playing the majority of the fourth quarter.It wasn’t as much of a knock on Archbold as it was a credit to Goode, who threw three touchdown passes, all to Griffin Little, in the game. But as Snider crept back in the game and took the lead, the Spartans needed the vertical threat that Goode gives them more than the running prowess Archbold specializes in. Game situations dictate personnel changes, and the Spartans adjusted by sticking with Goode down the stretch.Despite throwing two interceptions late, Goode’s performance was admirable. Both of his turnovers were balls on target to the receiver that were not hauled in. It was a solid night for the sophomore despite the loss.
BISHOP DWENGER VS. WAYNE
It’s tough not to feel for the Generals, who shuttered the Saints offense for most of the game on Friday night yet still lost, 14-13.Dwenger was held to less than 15 yards of total offense for the first half and zero first downs. It also completed just one pass, but that was a big one in the fourth quarter from Brenden Lytle to Vinnie Tippmann for a touchdown. The ensuing PAT gave the Saints the lead and, eventually, the win.Wayne showed that it dominate a foe even without leading tackler Tristan Pernell, who was out with an injury. Craig Young had arguably his most dominant defensive game of his prep career, making play after play all over the field. The front line held its own against Joe Tippmann and the physical Dwenger OL.But details count when you get this deep in the playoffs. The Generals had issues all year long on extra points, and it bit them on Friday. The missed PAT on their second TD left the door open for a Dwenger comeback.
NORTHWOOD VS. ANGOLA
In the preseason, senior Jarrett Gibson was in a position battle to replace the departed Chance Roddy at quarterback. His play over the course of the season has shown that coach Andy Thomas made the right choice at the spot.Gibson hooked up with Antonio Luevanos for 46 yards and Luke Honer for five yards on a pair of second-half touchdown drives in a 27-26 victory over the previously-undefeated and top-ranked Panthers.Roddy was the heart and soul of last year’s Angola team, with many believing that the Hornets could not possibly repeat their success with him gone. Instead, Gibson has helped Angola repeat as sectional champions and once again are 12-0 heading into a regional showdown with Bishop Dwenger.
BISHOP LUERS VS. BELLMONT
How about Bellmont coming out with an onside kick to open the game on Friday? The Braves recovered it and eventually scored to take an early lead.
Luers eventually won 27-14, but credit to Bellmont for competing despite being vastly outsized and overmatched athletically.
The game could have went a different way if the Braves were able to convert in the red zone. The offense was held scoreless four times inside the 20 yard line, dashing the chances for a second straight upset.
Credit does need to go to Bellmont QB Johnathan Wilder, who was able to make some plays through the air to Aaron Lehrman, Noah Macklin and Colin Mills.
Bishop Luers senior quarterback Norman Knapke continues to showcase all the skills. His ability to change up his throws and connect on consistent quick-hit bullet passes was impressive.
The Knights also utilized Brayden Cowherd at running back at times, allowing Jordan Presley to line up in the slot as Luers looked to maximize its big-play ability in space against a slower Bellmont defense.
BREMEN VS. BLUFFTON
The Tigers may have saw their season come to an end, but Everett Johnson put an exclamation point on his final season by rushing for over 170 yards in defeat.
The senior eclipsed the 2,000-yard mark for the year, the leading rusher in the area.
SOUTHWOOD VS. ADAMS CENTRAL
Can we just fast-forward to that Pioneer v. AC matchup?
What the Flying Jets did in Friday’s 38-0 shutout of previously-undefeated Southwood was nothing short of spectacular. It was obvious that it was a game that AC had looked forward to since last year’s loss in sectionals.
Yes, AC has Monroe Central on the road this week, putting a matchup with undefeated Pioneer a week away. But Blitz can’t help but look ahead.