What better way to prepare for the start of sectional play than have Blitz break it all down for you?
All this week, Outside the Huddle will look at every area sectional and preview what is on tap beginning this Friday.
We start today with Class 1A and Sectional 44.
ADAMS CENTRAL (8-1)
Who saw this coming at the beginning of the year? Despite indications that the Flying Jets would be rebuilding this season, Coach Michael Mosser has his team poised as the favorite to win its third sectional in four years.
The Flying Jets have scored at least 21 points in all eight of their victories. They were held to 14 in the 42-14 loss to South Adams.
The running game has been stout all year but has seemingly gained traction in lopsided wins over Bluffton and Woodlan to end the regular season.
Adams Central also has a relatively easy road to the sectional final, opening with winless Caston and then facing Fremont or North Miami, both of whom enter the postseason with losing records.
The Knights are aiming to take on Adams Central in the postseason for the fourth consecutive year. That meeting wouldn’t happen until the sectional final, but could be probable.
While some will say the Knights have played a lesser schedule than South Adams, Southwood’s strength of schedule is actually more difficult according to the Sagarin Ratings.
This is not a dominant offensive team like Southwood was a few years ago with Carson Blair. The defense is allowing just 5.6 points per game and has held eight straight opponents to seven or less points.
Some are going to be angry that Blitz has declined to put the Eagles in the “contenders” category here, but hear Blitz out.
Southwood is an incredibly stingy defense. Churubusco has struggled to put up offensive numbers against good defenses, particularly when it is forced to go through the air.
Jake Fulk has been a monster for the Eagles, but can he do enough to take Churubusco through this field?
It has been a tale of two seasons for the Norse, who started the year 0-4 and have since won five straight.
Northfield should be able to win its first-round game at Triton, but it will then face either Southwood or Churubusco. The Norse actually played Southwood tough in Week 4 in a 20-6 defeat, but does it have the offensive firepower to score enough to beat the Knights? Blitz doesn’t think so.
The Eagles enter the playoffs with their most wins in a season since 2012. Interim coach Todd Herndon has done a good job stepping in for Jim Hummer and this team has a chance to win just its second postseason game this decade.
But competing with the contenders in this conference could be just too big of a leap forward for this program.
NORTH MIAMI (3-6)
The Warriors are allowing over 30 points per game, not a good recipe for success in a sectional that has some offenses that can put up some big numbers.
North Miami may be able to knock off Fremont in Round 1, but will go no further than Adams Central in Round 2.
A six-game losing streak is where the Trojans find themselves entering the playoffs. Close losses to North Judson and Winamac don’t take any the sting of the long skid, particularly with a streaking Northfield team coming in this Friday riding a five-game winning streak.
The lone game against a sectional opponent this year saw the Comets fall to Triton 41-0.
That’s pretty much all you need to know regarding Caston’s chances in the postseason.
FOUR PLAYERS TO WATCH
BLAKE HEYERLY, SOPHOMORE, ADAMS CENTRAL
The Flying Jets have a bevy of running backs, but Heyerly may be the most physical as any of them.
Heyerly rushes with a tenacity that defenders, quite frankly, sometimes are afraid of. He can lower his head and run you over or put a foot in the ground, make a move and leave you tackling air.
This sectional will be decided on which team can run the ball most effectively. Heyerly is a big cog in Adams Central’s rushing attack.
JAKE FULK, SENIOR, CHURUBUSCO
A sectional decided by running the ball is exactly what Fulk wants to hear, considering he finished the regular season with 1,688 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns.
Fulk’s ability to run opens up so many other options for the Eagles offensively, from Gage Kelly as a secondary rusher to Sam Wood’s effectiveness at quarterback.
GABE LLOYD, SENIOR, SOUTHWOOD
The Knights have a pretty balanced defense for a unit allowing less than six points per game, but Lloyd stands out. He lines up at cornerback but leads the team in tackles for loss with seven.
You can’t ignore Lloyd on offense either, as he has rushed for nearly 600 yards and 12 touchdowns.
MICAH HIGGINS, JUNIOR, NORTHFIELD
Outside of Ben Voirol and Joe Collier at Adams Central, there may be no better defensive lineman in this sectional than Higgins.
The defensive tackle has 11 tackles for loss to go along with 48 total tackles. He also has a blocked field goal, showing his ability to move and not just be a roadblock to opposing offenses.
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