Sectional championship week is here, meaning every Friday from now until Thanksgiving there will be hardware awarded to winners.
Which teams will hold sectional trophies aloft this week? Your favorite Bear takes a look at each area team hitting the field on Friday and gives one reason why they will capture a title, and one reason why they won’t.
WARSAW (at CARROLL)
WHY: After sitting and steaming over a Week 9 loss to Concord that cost the Tigers the Northern Lakes Conference championship, Warsaw is eager to return to the field this Friday after a three-week hiatus.
Coach Bart Curtis’s team knocked off the Chargers a season ago and know the M.O. in which they need to operate to get a dub twice in two years.
If the misdirection and up-front blocking ability of the offense can dominate, Warsaw can be victorious.
WHY NOT: Carroll defensive coordinator Joe Rudolph started examining Warsaw’s offensive scheme and how to defend it way back in January. With the rematch now set, that preliminary research will pay dividends.
The Tigers have also struggled on the road in the playoffs, having won just once away from their friendly confines in the postseason since 2014.
CARROLL (vs. WARSAW)
WHY: Arguably Carroll’s most balanced team since 2012 when the Chargers went on the road to Penn in the sectional and got a victory, the mix of a veteran, savvy quarterback and an aggressive but disciplined defense has Coach Doug Dinan’s team playing some excellent football right about now.
As mentioned above, Carroll’s defensive coordinator has put a lot of work in looking for ways to counter the confusing Warsaw offense and what it does.
Shutting out rival Homestead last week feels like all the momentum needed to get another victory and a sectional crown.
WHY NOT: Overconfidence can be deadly, and Carroll needs to guard against it after the dominating performance against the Spartans last Friday. Warsaw is too good of a team to sleepwalk through if the line of thinking is that the defending sectional champ has been ousted so it’s a clear road to a sectional crown. If the Chargers aren’t locked in, they will lose.
SNIDER (at BISHOP DWENGER)
WHY: After a misstep last week that saw the Panthers have to claw from behind to knock off Northrop, Snider gets refocused (thanks to some stern coaching) for a sectional championship showdown with Bishop Dwenger.
Kamari Suarez had a huge game at receiver in the first matchup with the Saints with 167 yards receiving and a pair of scores. He and running back Tyrese Brown were big in the regular-season game that saw Snider win by 11. More of that will be enough for a sectional title.
WHY NOT: Will the complacency seen last week against Northrop bleed over into Week 11? Snider was riding high after the victory over Bishop Luers in the regular-season finale, but a week off could have deflated that momentum a bit. If that continues, and Snider lets the Saints hang around longer than they should, it will be game over.
BISHOP DWENGER (vs. SNIDER)
WHY: Being at home is a positive for Bishop Dwenger, with Shields Field not an easy place to play, nor is it very accommodating for opposing fans look to pack the bleachers, considering there aren’t very many.
The coaching staff is one of the best at discerning what works and what doesn’t against a given foe after seeing them once. Allowing Bishop Dwenger to adapt to Snider the second time around is to its advantage.
WHY NOT: The Saints struggled at the point of attack against Snider in the first matchup and there is no indication that that will change. Dwenger just doesn’t have the size and physicality it typically has in the trenches. Unfortunately, it’s tough to stop a run-heavy attack when holes are appearing everywhere along the line.
LEO (at NORTHRIDGE)
WHY: The Lions have slayed opposing teams with defenses much better than Northridge’s, a unit allowing over 20 points per contest. In terms of physicality, the Raiders have no hope of matching up with what Leo can employ up front.
WHY NOT: Realistically, complacency and miscues are the only dangers to the Lions this week. If Leo shows up not ready to play, or it puts the ball on the ground several times, it may lead to a Northridge upset. But Coach Jared Sauder’s squad has been handling its biz all year long.
WAYNE (at MISSISSINEWA)
WHY: As the Generals have watched other SAC teams towards the bottom of the standings fall out of the playoffs, Coach Sherwood Haydock’s team has captured a pair of wins and are now on the cusp of their first sectional crown since 1996.
Wayne’s big-play ability, led by its stable of running backs, should be able to run roughshod over an Ole Miss defense that has been susceptible to offenses that can move the ball on the ground.
WHY NOT: New Haven was unable to halt Mississinewa’s running attack as the Indians gouged the Bulldogs with big plays. THe offense averages 330 yards PER GAME on the ground. Bruising, run-heavy offenses like Bishop Dwenger and Snider had no problem carving up the Wayne defense. That doesn’t bode well for Friday.
NORWELL (at PERU)
WHY: Despite seven straight wins, the Peru Tigers have not seen the caliber of defense over that span that is going to be employed against it come Friday night. Norwell is big up front, fast in the middle and tough to pass against on the back end. All of the advantages are in Norwell’s favor, coupled with the fact that, despite its record, Peru hasn’t been tested like the Knights have.
WHY NOT: After shutting out back-to-back opponents in sectional play, complacency can begin to set in for a team with eyes on a deep run in the postseason. Peru’s offense isn’t powerful, but it is good enough to score enough points to beat Norwell if the Knights are looking past it.
EASTSIDE (at BISHOP LUERS)
WHY: Laban Davis. The Player of the Year candidate has been sensational all season long. While Bishop Luers held him down last year as a passer, he did rush for over 150 yards in the epic 56-49 game when these two clashed last season. He is averaging close to 300 total yards per game. He has rushed for 1,700 yards and passed for about 1,500 more. He is capable of winning this game with his heroics.
WHY NOT: While Bishop Luers is a more complete team that it was a year ago, you could argue that the supporting cast around Davis is not as deep and talented as it was in 2020. That is to take nothing away from the likes of Dane Sebert, Gavin Wallace, Dax Holman and others, but the chances of beating the Knights were greater last year.
BISHOP LUERS (vs. EASTSIDE)
WHY: No team in Class 2A can match up with the Knights at the skill positions, including the Blazers. In terms of offensive firepower and defensive play-making ability, the Knights hold a significant advantage over Eastside.
WHY NOT: The last time Bishop Luers played on its home field, it lost in a quagmire. While Luersfield has had a few weeks to recover, it still won’t be in pristine condition. A less-than-favorable field could slow down the Knights once again and give the edge to Eastside.
SOUTH ADAMS (at UNION CITY)
WHY: After dispatching of its top competition last week in Monroe Central, there is nothing that is going to stop the Starfires from capturing another sectional crown. With the return of Aidan Wanner to the lineup, it gives South Adams its top playmaker as it heads to a team that is allowing close to 25 points per contest.
WHY NOT: A letdown after an emotional (and muddy) victory for South Adams last week? That or a dominant performance by Union City running back Blayne Daniels (368 yards, 9 TDs last week, not a typo), could be big obstacles.
ADAMS CENTRAL (vs. TRITON)
WHY: Because the Flying Jets are far and above Triton in every conceivable way.
WHY NOT: The bus gets lost and the Flying Jets have to forfeit.
Seriously, that’s the only way AC doesn’t win.
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