It is sectional semifinal week, also known as the first week of the postseason for local 5A and 6A teams.
A pair of four-team sectionals will kick off this week in the area.
We begin our previews of 5A and 6A today with Sectional 11.
BISHOP DWENGER (8-1)
The defending Class 4A state champions have a new challenge in 2019 – conquering 5A.
Despite the change in locale, the Saints are still the favorite in the field. Their lone loss came at the hands of Homestead in a 17-15 defeat.
The defense may be the key to Bishop Dwenger earning a pair of victories and capturing its third-consecutive sectional championship. The Saints have held four of their last five opponents to seven points or less.
The bye week was much needed for this team, with the Saints sitting out several players with nagging ailments in the Week 9 game against Northrop. That time to heal gives Bishop Dwenger an even greater advantage heading in.
What a difference a week can make.
Blitz entered Week 9 thinking North Side was the lone contender to potentially knock off Bishop Dwenger. But after the Bruins played the Saints tough in a 9-7 loss, coupled with North Side’s disappointing effort at Concordia Lutheran, Blitz has changed his line of thinking.
The key for the Bruins will be its defense, a unit that is allowing close to 30 ppg. If they play like they did against Bishop Dwenger in Week 9, they have a shot to surprise the Saints if they aren’t careful.
NORTH SIDE (4-5)
The Legends had won four of their last five entering Week 9 at Concordia, but looked frazzled and overmatched in a 35-7 loss to the Cadets.
Duce Taylor is capable of leading this team to wins against almost anyone, but there is a part of Blitz that feels as if teams are figuring out how to defend the dynamic junior.
One advantage that North Side will have against Bishop Dwenger to open the sectional is that Taylor did not play the first time these two teams met. Taylor was still sitting out due to transfer rules. Might that unfamiliarity with the QB play into the Legends’ hands?
The RedHawks have not won a game since a visit to Fairfield in Week 1. They are allowing an average of 37 points per game.
In short, this is the one team that feels completely out of its element in this sectional in terms of competing.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
DEVON TIPPMANN, JUNIOR, BISHOP DWENGER
Tippmann is an impact player on both sides of the ball, leading the team in touchdowns running the ball and one of its top defenders.
When you look at this sectional, you see just how important defensive stops will be for the Saints in trying to knock off North Side and (probably) Northrop.
ALEX HOLLIDAY-ROBINSON, SENIOR, NORTH SIDE
North Side’s best shot at a win may rely on Duce Taylor, but the quarterback cannot do it alone. The Legends need to have a balanced attack offensively against Bishop Dwenger to have a shot, a feat that is easier said than done.
That’s where Holliday-Robinson comes in. He has rushed for over 700 yards and eight touchdowns this year, including 19 rushes for 102 yards against the Saints the first time around.
NIGEL ROBERTSON, SENIOR, NORTHROP
Let’s look ahead to a final against Bishop Dwenger or North Side. Halting the run game will be important for the Bruins, who have struggled much of the year in that department.
Roberton has 47 tackles and 7 TFL on the year from his defensive end position. He could also be used to get to the quarterback as well.
DUNCAN GREEN, SOPHOMORE, GOSHEN
There isn’t much to write about regarding Goshen, considering it has just a single win.
That said, Green is a solid d-end. He leads the RedHawks in both TFL (nine) and sacks (five) to go with 49 total tackles.