The Indiana High School Athletic Association released new sectional alignments for various sports on Monday afternoon, including football.
The complete listing of the new sectional alignments for football and basketball for the next two years can be found HERE.
Awake from his slumber after a long winter, Blitz is already looking ahead to late summer when we will kick off the 2019 prep football season.
But there is plenty to talk about between now and then, starting with the realignments.
Let’s take a closer look at each of the local sectionals and the impacts within them.
CLASS 6A SECTIONAL 3
OLD SECTIONAL FIELD: Carroll, Northrop, Snider, Homestead
NEW SECTIONAL FIELD: Carroll, Homestead, Noblesville, Warsaw
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Snider
WHAT IT MEANS: The expiration of Snider’s Success Factor bump to 6A means that the Panthers drop a class. Northrop’s drop in enrollment also saw it move down, meaning Carroll and Homestead needed a pair of new sectional foes.
Enter Warsaw, which was sent northwest over the previous two-year cycle with the likes of Penn and Valparaiso. The Tigers are on the rise after a 7-3 year in Bart Curtis’s first season at the helm.
Some will believe that the team that got screwed in this field is Noblesville. But while the travel won’t be good if the Millers have to go on the road, they are now out of a sectional that had perennial powers Carmel and Westfield in it. Noblesville as a program has not had a winning season since 2001, but second-year coach Justin Roden went 35-9 in his final three years at East Central, including a state title in 2017. He could be the guy to return Noblesville to state football relevance.
GAME TO WATCH FOR: Carroll vs. Homestead
CLASS 5A SECTIONAL 11
OLD SECTIONAL FIELD: Lafayette Harrison, Huntington North, Kokomo, McCutcheon
NEW SECTIONAL FIELD: Bishop Dwenger, North Side, Northrop, Snider
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Lafayette Harrison
WHAT IT MEANS: This sectional looks drastically different. Whereas the last few years we had just a pair of local 5A teams – North Side and Huntington North – some reclassification has this now an all-SAC field.
Bishop Dwenger moves up to Class 5A due to Success Factor, the first time the Saints have ever been above 4A in program history.
Of course, many are already salivating at a potential postseason showdown with Snider. That clash would highlight arguably the two most consistency successful programs in the SAC meeting in the playoffs for the first time.
Northrop just can’t escape Snider, with the Bruins moving from 6A to 5A yet still residing in the same sectional with a team that has beaten them 22 consecutive times.
North Side goes from playing the likes of Concord and Goshen in sectionals to Snider and Bishop Dwenger. The Legends are expected to be an improved team, but could have benefitted from no realignment at all.
GAME TO WATCH FOR: Snider vs. Bishop Dwenger
CLASS 4A SECTIONAL 19
OLD SECTIONAL FIELD: Angola, Culver Academies, DeKalb, East Noble, Northridge, NorthWood, Plymouth, Wawasee
NEW SECTIONAL FIELD: Angola, Columbia City, DeKalb, East Noble, Leo, Northridge, NorthWood, Wawasee
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Angola
WHAT IT MEANS: Basically, Sectional 19 has traded Culver and Plymouth (off to Sectional 18) for Columbia City and Leo, meaning half of the Northeast 8 resides in this field.
Columbia City moves over from Sectional 20, getting away from SAC squads Bishop Dwenger, South Side and Wayne. This is good news for the Eagles, but Sectional 19 presents its own unique set of challenges with the likes of Angola, East Noble and NorthWood.
Leo was also in Sectional 20 and may also benefit from moving. The Lions went 1-3 the last three years in the postseason and overall has seen their season come to an end at the hands of an SAC team in three of the last four years.
Angola has won this sectional the last two years, but it is one of the most competitive fields in the state regardless of class.
GAME TO WATCH FOR: Angola vs. East Noble
CLASS 4A SECTIONAL 20
OLD SECTIONAL FIELD: Columbia City, Bishop Dwenger, South Side, Wayne, Jay County, Leo, Logansport, New Haven
NEW SECTIONAL FIELD: Delta, South Side, Wayne, Huntington North, Jay County, Marion, Mississinewa, New Haven
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Bishop Dwenger
WHAT’S IT MEAN: Wayne coach Derrick Moore is going to say how he would love to beat Bishop Dwenger in a postseason setting. Heck, the Generals almost did it last year. But let’s be honest, the Saints bumping up to 5A makes things a who lot easier for Moore and his squad in Sectional 20.
New Haven can be tough, but the addition of Marion here is probably the biggest hurdle for the Generals. Coach Craig Chambers is doing at Marion what he did at Indianapolis Howe, turning nothing into something. The Giants went 13-1 last year and will return studs such as running back Jakylen Thomas (1,532 yards rushing) next year.
Delta adds a different dimension here, but not much in the way of proven postseason success while coming over from Sectional 21.
Huntington North drops from 5A to 4A, likely a better spot to find success if former Peru coach Bob Prescott can turn things around.
GAME TO WATCH FOR: Wayne vs. Marion
CLASS 3A SECTIONAL 26
OLD SECTIONAL FIELD: Blackford, Brebeuf, Crawfordsville, Guerin Catholic, Hamilton Heights, North Montgomery, Northwestern, Southmont
NEW SECTIONAL FIELD: Garrett, Glenn, Jimtown, Lakeland, Mishawaka Marian, South Bend Washington, Tippecanoe Valley, West Noble
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Brebeuf
WHAT’S IT MEAN: This one is all over the map, with South Bend Washington down from 4A and West Noble and Garrett moving away from the likes of Bishop Luers and Concordia Lutheran.
The problem for local teams like the Railroaders, Lakeland and West Noble is that Jimtown and Mishawaka Marian are consistently very good. The two Northern Indiana Conference teams have collectively won eight sectionals this decade.
Basically, the duo of Garrett and West Noble are trading one deadly duo (Luers, Concordia) for another (Jimtown, Mishawaka Marian).
GAME TO WATCH FOR: Jimtown vs. Mishawaka Marian
CLASS 3A SECTIONAL 27
OLD SECTIONAL FIELD: Fairfield, Glenn, Jimtown, Knox, Maconaquah, Mishawaka Marian, Peru, Tippecanoe Valley
NEW SECTIONAL FIELD: Bellmont, Concordia Lutheran, Heritage, Maconaquah, Northwestern, Norwell, Oak Hill, Peru.
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Mishawaka Marian
WHAT IT MEANS: This is basically a convoluted Sectional 28 with one big exception – no Bishop Luers. The Knights have dropped due to enrollment, making Concordia Lutheran the team that catches people’s eye were as a favorite.
Longtime Oak Hill coach Bud Ozmun is one of the best in central Indiana. After two straight losing seasons, the Golden Eagles should rise in 2019 after moving up from 2A.
Other than Oak Hill and Concordia, this sectional field is pockmarked with rebuilding programs. The Cadets should reign here for the foreseeable future.
GAME TO WATCH FOR: Concordia Lutheran vs. Oak Hill.
CLASS 2A SECTIONAL 35
OLD SECTIONAL FIELD: Delphi, Eastbrook, Eastern (Greentown), Lewis Cass, Oak Hill, Rensselaer Central, Rochester, Taylor
NEW SECTIONAL FIELD: Bluffton, Central Noble, Eastside, Fairfield, Bishop Luers, Prairie Heights, Whitko, Woodlan
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Eastbrook
WHAT’S IT MEAN: Take the meat of old Sectional 34, add Bishop Luers and you have a new-look Sectional 35.
Let’s just get to it. Can anyone in this field contend with Bishop Luers? Woodlan will say it can, but it needs to worry about taking care of South Adams and Adams Central in the ACAC before spouting off about giving the Knights a contest in October.
There are some solid programs in this field with an improving Bluffton program and a solid Eastside squad (up from 1A), but the addition of Bishop Luers here skews things heavily its way.
GAME TO WATCH FOR: Bishop Luers vs. Woodlan
CLASS A SECTIONAL 43
OLD SECTIONAL FIELD: Adams Central, Churubusco, Eastside, Fremont, Northfield, South Adams, Southern Wells, Southwood
NEW SECTIONAL FIELD: Madison-Grant, Monroe Central, South Adams, Southern Wells, Taylor, Tri-Central, Union City, Wes-Del
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Adams Central
WHAT’S IT MEAN: The IHSAA basically took one tidy 1A area sectional and split it into two. How rude.
South Adams has to feel good about escaping its rival Adams Central, which is now in Sectional 44, but in comes Monroe Central, a program that has had six straight winning seasons and 10-plus victories in each of the last three years.
Apart from those two teams, there isn’t much in the way of firepower here. Union City can be pesky, but most of the others are still seeking to string together more than three wins in a season, let alone competing for sectional titles.
GAME TO WATCH FOR: South Adams vs. Monroe Central
CLASS A SECTIONAL 44
OLD SECTIONAL FIELD: Anderson Preparatory Academy, Clinton Central, Clinton Prairie, Monroe Central, Sheridan, Tri-Central, Union City, Wes-Del
NEW SECTIONAL FIELD: Adams Central, Caston, Churubusco, Fremont, North Miami, Northfield, Southwood, Triton
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Monroe Central
WHAT’S IT MEAN: Once again, a whole new look for a sectional. Basically, the top three in this sectional – Adams Central, Southwood and Churubusco – welcome a few new schools to basically be fodder for them. Caston hasn’t won more than three games in a season since 2012. Fremont has struggled mightily the last few years, while North Miami and Northfield are decent but not great.
Triton could be the X-factor here, with the program having won 17 games in the last two years.
But in Blitz’s mind, this still comes down to a three-team race. How I miss South Adams in this mix already…
GAME TO WATCH FOR: Adams Central vs. Southwood
These opinions represent those of Blitz and Outside the Huddle. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. Follow Blitz on Twitter at Blitz_OTH