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 in Classes 1A through 4A and preview what is on tap beginning this Friday.
We continue with Class 1A and Sectional 43.
SOUTH ADAMS (9-0)
The top team in the AP Poll in Class 1A is the clear favorite in this field. No team has the offensive firepower and defensive prowess as the Starfires.
Just one team has scored in double digits against South Adams this season – Monroe Central dropped 14 in Week 5.
A road game in the sectional semifinal could present a challenge if it is indeed Monroe Central, but in Blitz’s mind, the Starfires’ worst enemy over the next three weeks are themselves.
MONROE CENTRAL (6-1)
Yes, Monroe Central has just a single loss, but that defeat came by 17 points at the hands of South Adams.
The Golden Bears’ offense can be a handful, led by junior QB Jackson Ullom. The problem is, Monroe Central’s defense does not have the personnel to match up against all of South Adams’ weaponry.
That has clearly been the case over the last three years, in which the Golden Bears have lost to South Adams four times by an average of 19.7 points.
The two wins by the Argylls came against teams that have a combined one victory entering the playoffs.
While Madison-Grant received the benefit of the bye and will get to rest a week, it likely will be no match for Tri-Central in Round 2.
The Trojans have lost five straight sectional games and host Monroe Central to open the playoffs. That’s not a good situation.
For the year, Taylor is allowing 51.2 points PER GAME, which is one of the worst in all of Indiana.
Yes, the Trojans have six wins, but they were torched by South Adams 49-7 in the postseason a year ago. This year’s edition of Tri-Central is better, but good enough to give South Adams or Monroe Central a game? Tough to imagine that in Blitz’s mind, particularly with the Trojans averaging just a touch over 21 points per contest.
The positive for Tri-Central is that it has a favorable draw and should advance into the championship round.
An interesting first-round matchup sees Wes-Del get another shot at Tri-Central, the team that beat them 13-8 in Week 2.
Quarterback Eric Harlan can be a problem as he has thrown for over 1,000 yards and 17 touchdowns and rushed for close to 700 yards. However, he has also been picked off 12 times.
UNION CITY (3-6)
The Indians went to Winchester last week to wrap the regular season and lost by 36 to a team that South Adams beat by 33 in Week 1.
That doesn’t bode well for Union City, a program that has yet to win a postseason title of any kind.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
DREW STUTZMAN, SENIOR, SOUTH ADAMS
The biggest problem in facing South Adams is matching up with all of its weapons on the outside, particularly for 1A opponents.
Stutzman is the most prolific of all of the Starfires’ talent able to get downfield, as the senior leads the team in receptions (29), receiving yards (672) and touchdowns (10).
If a team is to knock off the Starfires in 1A, it must either have the personnel to limit the offensive threats in the pass game OR get plenty of pressure on James Arnold in the backfield.
JACKSON ULLOM, JUNIOR, MONROE CENTRAL
If Monroe Central is to beat South Adams, it will likely need to put up plenty of points on the scoreboard.
While Ullom and the Golden Bears could not get much going against the Starfires in their regular-season matchup, the junior does have the talent to put up big numbers.
Through seven games, Ullom has thrown for over 1,200 yards and 16 touchdowns against just a pair of INTs.
CADEN LEININGER, JUNIOR, TRI-CENTRAL
The Trojans have a pair of matchups in the first two weeks of sectionals that bode well for them to reach the title game.
That’s where Leininger will come in. If Tri-Central is matched up with South Adams, defending in deep coverage will be pivotal. Leininger has a team-high four INTs from his safety spot and has shown proficiency in shutting down wide receivers deep downfield. He will need to have a huge night to get the Trojans a shot if they play the Starfires.
ERIC HARLAN, SENIOR, WES-DEL
The senior quarterback has feasted on inferior opponents this season, yet amassed just 100 total yards against Tri-Central and a lowly 44 against Monroe Central.
Harlan and Wes-Del get another shot at Tri-Central to open sectional play. Can Harlan, who has thrown for 17 touchdowns and rushed for seven more, find a groove against stiffer competition when it matters the most?
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