We are breaking down every area sectional this week as the postseason kicks off this Friday.
Next up is Sectional 35 in Class 2A.
Bluffton (4-5) at Eastside (9-0)
Whitko (1-8) at Central Noble (7-2)
Fairfield (4-5) at Bishop Luers (8-1)
Prairie Heights (3-6) at Woodlan (3-6)
BISHOP LUERS (8-1)
Despite falling in its final regular-season game to lose the outright SAC championship and drop out of the top spot in Class 2A in the AP Poll, the Knights are still the (heavy) favorite in this field. No team, even Eastside, can match the wealth of play-making talent that Bishop Luers can employ.
Carson Clark is the SAC’s all-time leading passer. He has thrown for over 2,200 yards and 29 touchdowns this year against seven INTs. He has a plethora of weapons around him and an RB1 in Sir Hale that punches way above his weight.
The defense isn’t as dominant. The Knights are allowing over 20 points per game and are susceptible to being pushed around up front by bigger offensive lines. Fortunately for Bishop Luers, it won’t be seeing any of that in this sectional.
If the Knights can put Week 9 in the rearview, refocus and play to their potential, they roll to the program’s 26th sectional crown.
Blitz is already getting primed for Bishop Luers-Eastside III, which, lucky for us, will be the sectional championship matchup between the two and the third-straight season in which the pair have met in the postseason.
Yes, there is a lot of football to be played between now and then, but the two are so clearly the favorites to sweep the rest of the teams aside in this sectional.
Laban Davis is all-world, regardless of conference he plays in. One needs to just watch highlights from a year ago when he torched Bishop Luers with his legs in the playoffs to understand that he is a kid who can excel in any league in northeast Indiana.
Eastside made mincemeat of opponents in the regular season, only entertaining close games with Adams Central and Churubusco. The supporting cast around Davis is sound, while the defense held four opponents to a single score of less.
But there are kinks in the armor. It can be argued that the supporting cast around Davis is not as good as it was a year ago. Eastside ranks 196st in strength of schedule this season, while Bishop Luers sits at 27th.
CENTRAL NOBLE (7-2)
Kudos to the Cougars with do-everything player Will Hoover (1,113 yards rushing, 13 TDs, 45 tackles) on their seven-win campaign.
It’s a favorable draw for Coach Hayden Kilgore’s group, but with a win over Whitko in Round 1, Central Noble will likely see Eastside again, a team that blew out the Cougs 42-0 in Week 8.
Central Noble has feasted on teams inferior to them, but unfortunately a pair of teams reside in this sectional that are a cut above.
Coach Brent Kunkel’s squad has been able to turn things around from a 1-4 start with some success down the stretch, including a four-point road win over Lakeland in Week 9 in which the team dressed just 19 players due to quarantine.
Senior Lukas Hunt has been stout at quarterback, accounting for close to 2,000 total yards. Unfortunately, Bluffton has had its struggles on defense, particularly in defending the pass. A first-round road date at Eastside is far from ideal.
It is shaping up to be one-and-done for the third straight year for the Tigers.
A far cry from last years undefeated regular season, the youthful Falcons began to find their wings towards the end of the season that included a pair of road wins at Garrett and Lakeland.
Unfortunately, the next road test comes this Friday. Instead of Luersfield it will be Shields Field on the campus of Bishop Dwenger, but the opponent will be an angry Bishop Luers squad off its first loss of the year.
That matchup won’t end well.
This is a growing program under Coach Mike Smith, with a group that starts a lot of underclassmen.
The draw is as favorable as it can get, with a home game against Prairie Heights and a home game against Bishop Luers in all likelihood.
Jacob Snyder is going to be one of the standout quarterbacks in his senior season in 2022, one of a number of juniors who could make some waves a year from now in the ACAC.
Following last year’s one-win campaign, finishing with four wins this year is great progress.
PRAIRIE HEIGHTS (3-6)
Three wins are the most for the program since 2013. Could the Panthers be a threat to knock off Woodlan in the first round? It is definitely possible, but the party would end immediately thereafter.
The Wildcats are allowing 35 points per game and their lone win came by seven over winless North Miami.
That’s not a good resume.
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