We are breaking down every area sectional this week as the postseason kicks off this Friday.
Next up is Sectional 36 in Class 2A.
Eastbrook (6-3) at Frankton (3-6)
Elwood (0-9) at Alexandria (5-4)
Bluffton (5-4) at Blackford (1-8)
Tipton (4-5) at Eastern [Greentown] (6-3)
Outside of Alexandria, Eastbrook’s losses have come to bigger schools this season. The do have two wins against NE Indiana area teams with Huntington North and New Haven, and they also beat Elwood 83-0 this season.
Eastbrook has won 16 Sectional titles with 12 in the last 21 seasons and their most recent coming just last season. This is by far the most storied program in this Sectional and that history, I’m sure, leads a bit into Eastbrook being the overall favorite in this bracket under Jeff Adamson in his 34th season leading the Panthers.
Eastbrook has a balanced and pretty solid defense, even giving up 23.1 points per game. Freshman Bodie Howell could be a breakout star in the future, currently leading the defense with 47 tackles. Senior Devin Stupples has four interceptions.
The offense runs behind Stupples and Gage Engle and when I say runs, I mean runs. Stupples has rushed for 992 yards and Engle for 848 while the duo has combined for 307 rushes, 204.4 yards per game and 23 total touchdowns.
Bluffton gets a nice draw opposite Blackford and they have played pretty well through the season, guaranteeing at least a .500 record for the fourth time in five seasons after falling just short last season. Bluffton is seeking its first Sectional title since 1988 and first postseason win since 2018 when they lost in the Sectional finals.
Their offense settles in best when Anthony Cruz gets going on the ground. The senior back has three games of 100+ rushing yards and has 726 yards on the season versus 871 total yards through the air for the Tigers. Braxton Betancourt, a junior, has 806 of those yards with freshman AJ Streveler becoming a favorite target (455 yards). The offense is still young with Cruz as the only senior to see passing, rushing or receiving yardage.
The defense too is young but senior Kayden King has been strong with a team high 40 tackles and a pair of sacks.
Four of their wins have come against 1A teams. Does that matter? Maybe not. But the Comets have scored 44 or more points in each of those games versus a 37.4 point per game average.
They may have one of the most balanced big yardage pass and running games in the Sectional. QB Eli Edwards has completed 69 percent of his passes for 1,845 yards with 24 touchdowns to eight interceptions and he hasn’t thrown for less than 200 yards in the last four weeks. Running back Jayden Eagle has 1,220 yards on the and has run for more than 100 yards in seven of the eight games he has appeared in.
Eastern’s two Sectional final trips in the last 30 years each ended with losses to Eastbrook.
The best draw in the Sectional comes for Alexandria against winless Elwood. The team is 3-0 against the Sectional including a win over favorite Eastbrook where they did put up 49 points.
They are a pretty multi faceted team with duel quarterbacks and running backs. Their game on the ground may be better with Gabe McGuire (676 yards) and Carson Cuneo (612 yards) leading the way. Cuneo is the big threat here, also leading the team defensively with 91 tackles, a sack and an interception.
The program hasn’t won more than a single Sectional game since 2013 and has never won a postseason title.
There is plenty of experience for Frankton against Sectional opponents, going 2-2 with wins over Tipton and Elwood (who they scored 84 points on) and losses to Eastbrook and Alexandria. The team is now looking to to surpass the three win mark for the first time since 2017.
The Eagle offense is balanced between QB Gage Rastetter, who has thrown for 829 yards and a pair of high usage backs in Nate Luzadder (675 yards) and Crew Farrell (462 yards) who have combined for 231 carries.
1-1 against Sectional opponents, Tipton has had an up and down season. A positive is that they have scored 34 or more points in every single win. Senior Eli Carter is a big yardage rusher at 1,166 yards on the season with 19 touchdowns and 129.6 yards per game.
Sophomore Cole Hussey has 94 tackles on the season.
The Blue Devils are down after reaching the Sectional finals each of the last two seasons, winning the crown in 2020.
Blackford’s lone win this season came against winless Elwood and that was only by a touchdown when everyone else ran Elwood off the field. That was one of just four games the Bruins scored in. If there is any upside to the Bruins, it is that Bryan Hernandez can be a hoss sometimes running the ball.
Winless and getting beat by 55 points per game on average says don’t worry much about Elwood in this. The Panthers have not won a single game since October 2, 2020 and their last postseason win was in 2016.
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