Tippecanoe Valley (9-0) at Garrett (4-5)

(3A Sectional First Round)

When: Friday, 7 p.m., Memorial Field.

Series: Garrett leads 1-0.

Only meeting: Garrett won 27-14, Oct. 21, 2011, sectional first round.

John Harrell’s prediction: Valley, 31-17.

About Valley: The No. 7-ranked Vikings enter postseason off their first unbeaten regular season since 1987. They’re averaging 46.7 points and allowing 7.8 to rank ninth in the state in offense, seventh in defense and sixth in margin (38.9). … Jamasyn Virgil was beastly effective during last week’s 56-25 win over Southwood, rushing for 217 yards and four touchdowns on 16 carries to go with an 86-yard kickoff return for another score. On the season, he’s at 753 yards rushing and a 10.3 average with 16 TDs. … Braden Shepherd, who’s gained 566 ground yards for a 9.9 average and seven TDs, is expected back Friday after missing last week due to injury. … As a team, Valley’s at 2,317 ground yards and a 7.0 norm per play. … Quarterback Branson McBrier is 58-of-85 throwing (68.2%) for 1,021 yards and 11 TDs against just two picks, while wideout Rex Kirchenstien has 480 yards and seven scores on 23 catches. … The Viking defense has racked up 33 takeaways, including six interceptions by Wade Jones and four fumble recoveries by McBrier, and 76 tackles for loss (11 by Dalton Alber, 10 by Karl Parker and nine by Hunter Eherenman). ... With a win, Valley would be home for next week’s semifinals against either No. 9-rated Marian (6-3) or South Bend Washington (3-4).

About Garrett: The Railroaders have lost four of their last five, the exception a 20-7 win at Angola (2-7). They finished 2-2 in the Northeast Corner Conference Big Division. … Garrett’s keyed by versatile sophomore quarterback Aaden Lytle, who’s 100-of-168 throwing (59.5%) for 1,098 yards with six touchdowns and nine picks. He’s also netted 283 yards on 96 keepers with nine TDs, and as a punter, he’s booted 30 times for a 42.9 average, with seven kicks inside the 20. … Junior running back Robert Koskie has rushed for 792 yards, a 4.2 average and six TDs. … Receivers Christian Hess and Trey Richards have combined for 717 yards on 63 catches with six scores. … The Railroader defense has 23 takeaways, including four interceptions by sophomore Kaiden Colburn and three by Brayden Baker. … Garrett would visit Marian or be home to Washington in the semifinals.

Valley coach Steve Moriarty:

On last week — “It felt pretty good to (close a perfect regular season), but (a season-high) 25 points is still a lot to give up. Our defense has been pretty good, but we had a couple breakdowns. We’re working on continuing to improve our communication there.”

On Garrett — “It’s kind of unique that we have never played them (other than 2011). I think they’ve got a good group of kids that are very athletic. We need to make sure we stay focused and take it one game at a time.”

On hunger level — “I don’t think that will be a problem. The (Three Rivers Conference title) was just one goal of three. I think our guys are very goal-oriented and are pushing forward. You could tell in practice to start the week that they’re focused. It was very intense. … We’d like to win the sectional and then take a shot at regional, see how far we can go.”



Bremen (6-3) at Manchester (4-4)

(2A Sectional First Round)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m., Burk Field.

Series: Bremen leads 13-1 (2 ties).

Last meeting: Bremen won 21-14, Oct. 25, 2019, sectional first round.

Last Manchester win: 6-0, Sept. 20, 1974.

John Harrell’s prediction: Bremen, 31-21.

About Bremen: The Lions — who will face the Squires for the fifth time in the last 11 postseasons — won their final four regular-season games. They finished 4-1 in the Northern Indiana Conference North-South Division to close as runner-up to Jimtown, but they’ve also not beaten a team over .500, their best win being 21-7 against Glenn (4-4). … Sophomore running back Lance Moser’s rushed for 947 yards, a 6.1 average and 10 touchdowns. … QB Ethan Nunemaker is 56-of-112 passing for 844 yards and nine TDs against five interceptions, while top target Ashton Shively has 23 catches for 452 yards, a 19.7 average and four scores. … Junior kicker Angel Estrada is 3-of-3 on field goals with a long of 41, while sophomore safety Reece Greene has picked off three passes. … Bremen’s won three straight sectional openers and seven of its last eight. … With a win Friday, the Lions would host Rochester (5-2) or visit LaVille (6-2) for next week’s semifinals.

About Manchester: Despite last week’s 33-13 loss to Peru, the Squires wrapped up their first regular-season finish of .500 or better since 2009 and have clinched their best record overall since that club went 8-2. … Braxton Ream eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season. The senior is at 1,009 on 155 carries for a 6.5 average with seven touchdowns. Over the last two years, he’s run for 1,937 yards with a 6.6 average and 18 TDs across just 14 games. … Junior QB Brock Casper is 88-of-172 throwing for 1,263 yards and 16 touchdowns against five interceptions. Lead target Seth Gaerte has 42 receptions for 705 yards, a 16.8 average and 11 scores. … Jackson Austin is 15-of-16 on extra points. … Manchester’s turned its 11 takeaways this season into four TDs on those same plays. That includes fumble recoveries by Garrett Sites, Trevor Dill and Dominic Lincoln, his coming last week, to go with a pick six by Gaerte. … Preston Duffy, who doubles as a guard and linebacker, is expected back Friday after missing last week due to a broken nose suffered Oct. 8 against Maconaquah. … The Squires have lost four straight sectional openers and eight of their last nine. … Manchester would be on the road next week regardless of opponent.

Manchester coach Alyx Brandewie:

On Bremen — “One of the things that jumps out is how good they are up front, not that their skill players aren’t good as well, but they play with physicality and they play collectively as offensive and defensive lines. Bremen plays with an expectation of success. It’s who they are and have been for a while now. To my eye, they play well in part because of the confidence they have.”

On Ream’s milestone — “It’s one of those things where a year ago he was rolling toward that, but unfortunately, he got hurt (ultimately missing four games between injuries and quarantine). This year, we’ve been more balanced, and to his credit, he’s been like, ‘Coach, we win, I’m good with being a part of that,’ but at the same time, it’s nice to see him go over 1,000 and check that off his list.”

On four takeaway TDs — “It’s a little bit of both (luck and design). To a certain extent, you gotta get lucky, have it bounce your way, but a part of it is playing a certain way. We gotta be physical and disciplined and fly around to give ourselves a chance to make those plays. The nice thing about Dominic’s last week is he’s been, I won’t say an unsung hero, but doesn’t get quite as much attention as some of our other guys, but he’s had a good football season, been there for us all year long (including a team-leading 87 tackles).”



DeKalb (1-8) at Wawasee (1-8)

(4A Sectional First Round)

When: Friday, 7 p.m., Warrior Stadium, Syracuse.

Series (last 35 years): DeKalb, 6-4.

John Harrell’s prediction: Wawasee, 31-28.

Last meeting: Oct. 19, 2012, Wawasee 27-14.

About DeKalb — Coach Seth Wilcox’s Barons lost 14-0 against visiting Leo (9-0) in Week 9 … Both teams had the ball deep in enemy territory and came up empty on two occasions …. Tegan Irk started at quarterback for DeKalb and went out with a an injury and was spelled by Caiden Pettis … Among the Baron’s offensive leaders were Pettis (14 yards passing), Mitch Snyder (64 yards rushing) and Donnie Wiley (nine yards receiving) … DeKalb was 1-of-10 on third-down conversions … The Barons’ victory came in Week 6 at Huntington North (50-49) … DeKalb’s opponent record is 40-40.

About Wawasee — Coach Jon Reutebuch’s Warriors lost 28-25 at Goshen in Week 9 … Luke Ringler rushed for 100 yards and three touchdowns and Caleb Clevenger booted a 24-yard field goal for Wawasee … The Warriors went for it on fourth-and-goal from the Goshen 8 with just over a minute to go and were stopped … Wawasee’s win came in Week 6 against visiting Plymouth (21-19) … Wawasee’s opponent record is 49-32.

Per Wawasee coach Jon Reutebuch:

On DeKalb – They have the same record as us. They’e a spread offense … They run just enough to keep you honest … They run a 4-2-5 (defensive formation) and vary it based on the teams they’e playing. They’ve got great size. We’re happy to be hosting sectional at our place. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to get our first sectional Round 1 win since 2012.

Ringer at QB — He’s a senior and he seems to give teams more problems. He’s the starting quarterback and we bring in (junior Jaxon) Brown once in awhile for a change-up. Jaxon wasn’t available for the Goshen game at all (because of sickness).

On Goshen game — It was very frustrating. I felt like we played well. I felt like we played hard. We got down 11 (21-10 at halftime) and didn’t give up. We charged all the way back and had a chance to win the ball game at the end. There were a couple of tough calls during the game. That’s the way it goes sometimes … That game was very important to us. We wanted to win that game. It was (War-Hawk) Trophy game and a chance for us to get two wins in the NLC … We moved the ball well. I was pleased with the line play.



Whitko (1-8) at Central Noble (7-2)

(2A Sectional First Round)

When: Friday, 7 p.m., Central Noble HS.

Series: Tied 2-2.

Last meeting: Central Noble won 56-8, Oct. 20, 2017, sectional first round.

Last Whitko win: 28-24, Oct. 21, 2016, sectional first round.

John Harrell’s prediction: Central Noble, 42-3.

About Whitko: The Wildcats closed the regular season with a gut-wrenching 12-9 loss to Wabash that nonetheless marked the fewest points they’ve given up this year and the second-most they’ve scored. The Apaches, trailing 9-6, scored the winning touchdown in the final minute to cap a long drive. Whitko turned the ball over four times in Wabash territory. … Ethan Gilbert rushed for 175 yards and a TD on 24 carries to push his season totals to 432 yards and a 4.9 average, while Austin Kreps nailed a 38-yard field goal. … Quarterback Slater Craig has netted 285 ground yards to go with three TDs this fall. … Tyler Veach recorded a dozen tackles last week and has reached double digits in every game this season. The senior’s 121 total tackles are tied for fourth in the state, just one behind the two players tied for second, and his 81 solos rank third, five off the lead. Sophomore Dean Boggs has added 59 tackles for the Cats, 47 of them solo. … Whitko’s 0-5 on the road this season and has lost four straight sectional openers. … With a win, the Cats would host next week’s semifinal against No. 4 Eastside (9-0) or Bluffton (4-5).

About Central Noble: The Cougars from the Northeast Corner Conference have clinched the program’s best record since 10-1 in 2003. Their lone losses are 42-0 at Eastside (9-0) and 21-12 to Churubusco (7-2), though all seven of their wins have come against teams that are sub-.500. … Will Hoover leads a ground attack averaging 249 yards per game with 1,113 yards, 13 touchdowns and a 6.7 clip. … Sophomore quarterback Tyler Shisler has added 398 yards and five TDs on 68 keepers, good for a 5.9 average. Through the air, he’s 45-of-111 for 767 yards with five touchdowns against seven interceptions. … Big-play receiver Preston Diffendarfer is averaging 26.4 yards on his 17 catches with five TDs. ...The Central Noble defense has made 51 tackles for loss, including 10.5 by Isaac Clay, while Diffendarfer and Ashton Smith have picked off three passes apiece among the team’s 11. … The Cougars would host Eastside or visit Bluffton in the semifinals.

Whitko coach Chip Coldiron:

On last week — “It was the best game we’ve played. Offensively, it was the most yards we’ve had, about 240, and defensively, the first half was amazing until we gave up a 38-yard screen pass (for a touchdown) on the last play. We had a great week of practice and then we played the best game we’ve played by far. I’m not gonna lie, we should’ve won, but losing four fumbles, three (inside the Wabash 25), we hurt ourselves, but still, I’ve never seen our guys locked in like that. I don’t know if it was Senior Night or because they saw another 1-7 team, but they played their butts off.”

On Central Noble — “They’re a good team, which their record indicates, with a good back who runs hard, a fast receiver who we’ll have to play honest against, and a quarterback who can get the ball to him. They play hard. We’ll have to play hard. We need to block and tackle like we did last Friday.”

On Gilbert’s performance — “Ethan Gilbert ran his butt off. Obviously, you can’t do what he did without the offensive line, but he was the engine, and when we did have to spell him, Dean Boggs came in and played his butt off. Honestly, we didn’t decide until last Thursday that Dean would be the guy to spell Ethan at tailback, but it will definitely be those two again.”