We are breaking down every area sectional this week as the postseason kicks off this Friday.
Next up is Sectional 27 in Class 3A.
Norwell (8-1) at Maconaquah (2-5)
Northwestern (0-8) at Concordia Lutheran (1-7)
Oak Hill (7-2) at Bellmont (1-8)
Heritage (4-5) at Peru (6-2)
Last season, a one-loss Norwell team advanced to the sectional title game before being shut out on the road at Concordia Lutheran.
With the Cadets down from a year ago, the door has been opened for the Knights, who are every bit as good as they were a year ago, to capture a sectional title.
Other than a lopsided loss to Leo, Norwell has answered every challenge on the schedule thus far. An ultra-talented junior class leads the way – with Luke Craft, Brody Bolyn and Jon Colbert headlining the group.
The defense is stingy, with a shutout of East Noble and keeping six of nine teams in single digits the highlights.
Outside of the usual suspects, Norwell has a chance to make a serious run in the postseason, provided it plays to its potential.
CONCORDIA LUTHERAN (1-7)
Yes, a single win in the regular season typically doesn’t bode well for the postseason, but Concordia Lutheran is different.
The last two seasons, the Cadets won four games prior to the playoffs and won a sectional crown. While one victory isn’t four, the combination of playing in the SAC and the lack of quality in this sectional field has Blitz giving Coach Mike Eshbach’s team a fighting chance.
The defense has not been good, allowing over 42 points per game. But the offense has some weapons, with hard-throwing Eli Mattox at QB and a cadre of wideouts who can haul in his passes. The ground game is inconsistent, but it has the potential of carving out some yards and moving the chains.
The draw is favorable with a winless Northwestern team up first, followed by a road date at Norwell. With a week off heading into the playoffs and a bad squad up in Week 10, the Cadets have a shot at gaining momentum.
OAK HILL (7-2)
Do we marginalize the chances of a seven-win team in the playoffs?
With Oak Hill we do.
In each of the last three seasons in which the Golden Eagles won six or more games, they failed to win a sectional title, including last year when they were 7-3 heading into a showdown with Concordia Lutheran and were blanked 24-0 at home.
Running back Kyle Turanchick is the offensive stud, having rushed for 1,518 yards and an astounding 27 touchdowns during the regular season.
As good as the offense can be, it’s tough to see Oak Hill having enough success against a Norwell in the sectional final to capture its first sectional crown in eight years.
Of its six wins this season, just one has come against a team with a winning record.
Similar to Oak Hill, the Tigers rely on a solid running game to lead the way, headlined by seniors Brayden Masters and dual-threat QB Levi Strong.
Peru averages over 260 yards per game rushing. If it can keep that up over three weeks it has a shot at a sectional title. But much like Oak Hill, the quality of the regular-season schedule, or lack thereof, makes it tough to buy into the Tigers being a real threat against say, Norwell.
Progress can be slow when rebuilding a program, but there is no doubt we are seeing tangible growth with the Patriots, who have won their most regular-season games since 2015 when Dean Lehrman was still patrolling the sidelines.
The draw isn’t half bad either, with a winnable road game at Peru followed by a home game with Oak Hill. In fact, Blitz would not be shocked to see the Pats facing off for a sectional title after a couple of impressive dubs.
This is still a young team, so the lack of experience may be a factor, but Heritage is a team to watch over the next few weeks.
The Braves’ two victories came against Whitko and North Miami, two teams that are a combined 1-17. They are a non-factor consider they open with Norwell.
The Braves enter the postseason with a victory a few weeks ago that ended a 26-game skid, so you could say things are looking pretty good.
Remember, this was a program just a few years ago that went winless before capturing back-to-back victories in the sectional before losing to Bishop Luers in the final.
The problem for Bellmont is a defense that allows over 46 points per game. It is difficult to find success in the playoffs when allowing a lot of points.
The Tigers are 2-36 overall over the last four years. Heading to Concordia to open up the postseason is not a recipe for success.
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