We are breaking down every area sectional this week as the postseason kicks off this Friday for Classes 1A to 4A.
Up next is Class 3A’s Sectional 27.
Norwell (8-1) at Heritage (6-3)
Concordia Lutheran (3-6) at Woodlan (4-5)
Yorktown (6-3) at Delta (3-6)
Bellmont (0-9) at Garrett (2-7)
Don’t count them out, in fact maybe count Norwell as more of a favorite than they were when the Sectional draw took place. After all, who could be happy about a perfect season and a conference title all lost in week 9? Don’t expect Norwell to be happy, nor play happy when they open postseason play.
This is a team who will pound the ball on the ground and as long as they can run, it will be a terribly long night for any opponent. Drew Graft and Luke Graft have formed a powerful duo and with Drew Ringger and Timothy Bonjour running hard too, it has helped set QB Lleyton Bailey up for success in many scenarios.
The team thrives though at shutting people down. Last week’s loss to Columbia City dropped them to fourth in the state in defensive average, an area they had lead much of the season. Still, Norwell is allowing just 5.89 points per game versus their 42.8 points per game scoring average. Just 4 of their 9 opponents even scored on them in the regular season. Stuart McCabe had a great week 9 for most of the game and he, along with Aydan Rusu, Luke Graft and Brody Bolyn have been heavy hitters all year for this defense.
Norwell won the Sectional title a season ago, made it to the finals in 2020 and are the only team in this Sectional with three straight seasons with a postseason win under their belt.
Yorktown is coming off back to back losses to end their regular season but they can score a lot of points. They scored a season high 45 last week in a loss to Mount Vernon (Fortville), but also have wins where they scored 42 and 40 during this season.
The Tigers are far from a one trick pony and are still fairly young behind quarterback Mason Moulton (1,461 yards/14 TDs/13INTs) and running back Jalen Thomas (768 yards). There are a lot of options for the Tigers with two other running backs over 100 yards on the season and five triple digit receivers, led by senior Kolton Nanko and his 732 receiving yards.
Senior Luke Wilhelm has amassed 122 tackles.
Yorktown went to double overtime in a Sectional opener loss last season but they did last get a Sectional game win in 2020. They last won a Sectional title in 2014 but in coach Mike Wilhelm’s 18 year run with the program, they are just 1-5 against Northeast Indiana area teams with all of those games coming in the postseason.
The Patriots have been impressive this season and quarterback Kobe Meyer is certainly on the list of best breakout players this fall with his double faceted game throwing and running the ball. He has thrown for 912 yards and run for 830, leading Heritage in both categories.
The big question is, with a draw of Norwell for week one of the postseason, how do you bridge the gap between now and a 42-0 loss to the Knights week two of the regular season? Heritage was held to 136 yards passing and 54 yards rushing in that game with Meyer’s 36 yards rushing leading the way. Norwell’s defense was stout and now the Patriots face a more refined and probably a bit angry Knights D waiting for them.
Heritage won a first round postseason game in 2019 but hasn’t won more than one game in the playoffs since 2012’s run to regionals.
Where do you slot a 3-6 Concordia Lutheran team coming out of a tough conference with higher class teams? That is always a question as we enter the postseason. But there may not be as much of a ceiling in this Sectional as there was in the SAC.
Ajani Washington has been one of the best breakout performers of the season anywhere in the area. The basketball start has shown out with 70.7 yards per game receiving and leading a core of four Cadet receivers with over 200 yards on the season, all from the hands of QB Eli Mattox, who has thrown for 1,521 yards. The achilles heal: Mattox has thrown almost as many picks (13) as touchdowns (14).
The Cadets have run into favorite Norwell each of the last three postseasons, though two of those were wins. Last fall? It was Norwell with a 27-0 win. The perk for Concordia is that tough regular season, it has always helped them build; the last time the Cadets didn’t win a postseason game was 2014.
The Eagles have won Sectional games in Class 4A each of the last two seasons, including a Sectional finals trip in 2020. They already have a loss to first round opponent Yorktown this season and that 35-21 loss ended a three game winning streak to start the season.
What stands out to us in this area most about their season and that winning streak? A 21-14 win over Columbia City, the only loss of the regular season for the NE8 champion Eagles. In that game, the Eagles ran the ball 44 times which is kind of their go to with Palmer Samuels sitting at 691 rushing yards and four other Delta players up over 100 yards on the season.
Woodlan football has been tricky on the season, showing a lot of offensive firepower without as many wins to shine next to it. They are coming off back to back losses to ACAC powers from Adams County, but a chance to play fast and loose in Sectional play could see some success week one after winning as many games this season as they did the past two seasons combined.
The Warriors have not won a postseason game since 2017, when they advanced to the state finals, losing to Southridge. So what will it take for coach Mike Smith to get his first career Sectional game win?
Jake Snyder is the biggest piece to this puzzle, probably underrated in the area because of his squad’s record. He has thrown for just over 1200 yards and run for just under 500. If Snyder gets going in the air, it helps Woodlan a lot and also opens up paths for sophomore Drew Fleek, who is sitting at 948 rushing yards on the season.
The Railroaders have uncharacteristically struggled most of this season but have won two of their last three, in part due to the reawakening of Robert Koskie’s run game. Koskie is at 908 yards on the season, including five straight games over 100 yards. He hit 202 yards with 3 touchdowns last week opposite Central Noble.
Personnel issues slowed Garrett early this season, but with a late surge, they could be due for a postseason win. That is something they have not done since 2016 when they made it to semi state.
This is still a pretty young team with a sophomore quarterback in Calder Hefty and their number two running back and top two receivers also being guys that will return next season.
The Braves have not won a postseason game since 2018 and haven’t won a game of any kind this season.
The plus? That 2018 team also didn’t win any regular season games before reaching the Sectional final. That year they also opened Sectional play opposite Garrett so there is some alignment. It helps that Garrett is the team Bellmont likely can play closest with in this Sectional.
The Braves will be run heavy with Isaac Bodkins leading the way and junior Job Hoffman has broken out a little on the defensive side of the ball.
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