Six area football teams have their beginning paths set for the second season, the IHSAA Sectionals beginning Friday October 22 for classes 1A-4A, and a handful of Class 5A squads. Each school’s head coach will tell, in different words, the media and their own gridders the best approach toward success in the second season is to go 1-0 each week.

The most notable wrinkle in this postseason is the reduction of Class 6A Sectional 3 from four teams to three: Warsaw, Carroll, and Homestead after Snider was moved to Class 5A for insufficient tournament success factor (TSF) performance during their bump to the state’s biggest class.

The Tigers’ three-team sectional format means one school automatically draws a bye into the November 5 sectional championship round, and the orange and black drew that bye. They’ll face the winner of Carroll (7-1) who boasts one of the state’s best quarterbacks, and Homestead (5-3).

Whether there is an advantage to a two-week break from postseason action depends on your perspective. The Tigers are a team, however, who “worries about/works on Warsaw” so the extra week allows them more time for such a laser-sharp focus.

Aside from the Triton Trojans, who drew a first round bye in Class 1A Sectional 44, all other area schools must win three games to hoist sectional championship hardware beginning Friday, October 22.

The 3-5 Trojans will travel to the winner of the fray between Fremont (2-6) and Northfield (5-3) October 29. TRC rematch North Miami (0-8) vs. Southwood (4-4) and Class 1A state-ranked Adams Central (7-1) vs. Churubusco (6-2) will battle on the other side of the bracket.

Manchester (2A-34), currently 4-3, travels to Bremen (5-3) in opening action. LaVille (5-2) and Rochester (4-2) will for the rest of the lower half bracket. Lewis Cass (2-5 in an off year) vs. Delphi Community (5-3) and Wabash (1-6) vs. Pioneer (6-2) complete the top brackets. Pioneer, 2017 and 2018 Class 1A state champs, faces the first of two seasons to earn two TSF points (in the form two sectional titles, or one regional title) to remain competing in Class 2A.

Whitko (2A-35) takes their 1-7 record to Albion to tangle with Central Noble (6-2). Their side of the bracket includes Bluffton (3-5) vs. Eastside (8-0). The other side of the bracket includes former Tiger offensive coordinator Matt Thacker’s Fairfield Falcons (4-4) vs. Class 2A number-one-ranked, 2020 state runner-up Fort Wayne Bishop Luers (8-0), the latter boasting one of the state’s best passing offenses. Prairie Heights and Woodlan, both 3-5, round out the sectional’s combatants.

Tippecanoe Valley (3A-26), on its way to its best regular season record in years (8-0 so far), will start its second season in Garrett (4-4). The winner of the October 22 clash will meet the victor between NIC  members South Bend Washington (3-3) and Mishawaka Marian (5-3), the latter bouncing back from a rough early season start. Valley beat Washington in the 2019 sectional opening round. Marian took out Valley in the 2020 sectional second round. Waiting for this quartet on the other side are Lakeland (3-5) vs. John Glenn (3-4) and West Noble (3-5)  vs. Jimtown (6-2).

Wawasee (4A-19) hosts DeKalb, and each team currently stands at 1-7. The winner will face a very tough second round, either state-ranked Leo (8-0) or East Noble (5-2), each among the Northeast-8 elite. The rest of the field includes a NLC rematch between Northridge (5-3) and Northwood (4-4) where the Raiders will travel to avenge a 42-8 regular season loss. The winner will face the Angola (2-6) vs. Columbia City (4-4) victor.

Each area team eagerly awaits the fresh start.