Local High School Football Previews For Sectional Championships

November 1, 2023 at 5:35 p.m.

By Steve Krah and Connor McCann

Class 6A Sectional 2 Championship
Warsaw (9-1) at Penn (9-1)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m., Everwise Credit Union Freed Field, Mishawaka.
Series: Penn, 7-1.
John Harrell’s prediction: Penn, 24-17.
Last meeting: Nov. 8, 2019 (sectional), Warsaw, 35-18.
About Warsaw: Bart Curtis’ Associated Press No. 11/Indiana Football Coaches Association No. 11 Tigers beat Fort Wayne Carroll 31-17 in Week 11 (sectional semifinal) … Reed Zollinger (2), Drew Sullivan (1) and Ethan Egolf (1) scored rushing TDs and Mason Smythe kicked a field goal for Warsaw … Zollinger had 34 carries for 168 yards, Sullivan 21 rushes for 81 and Egolf two runs for 27 … Warsaw started the third quarter with a 19-play, 77-yard drive that took 12:04 off the clocked and resulted in a TD … Through 10 games, Zollinger has 275 carries for 1,604 yards and 18 TDs, Luke Ransbottom 44 runs for 399 yards and four TDs, Quinton Brock 73 rushes for 277 yards and one TD, Sullivan 30 totes for 132 yards and one TD, Leyton Isbell 12 carries for 123 yards and one TD … Brock has completed 12-of-16 passes for 221 yards … Total tackle leaders are Eric Pohl (84), Jette Woodward (77), Cohen Heady (68 with 4.5 sacks), Isaac Beam (67 with 12 sacks including 3 vs. Carroll), Nathan Rosas (56 with 5.5 sacks), Corbin Johnston (41), Tristan Wilson (39), Mason Gabrich (33), Isbell (31), Daylor Vilamaa (30), Egolf (27 with 1 sack) … Interceptions have been gathered by Pohl (5), Wilson 4), Vilamaa (2), Woodward (2), Egolf (1) and Isbell (1) … Warsaw tallies 25.1 points per outing and gives up 13.3 … The team averages 309.5 yards per game (287.4 on the ground) and allows 225.6 (72.6 rushing) … It holds a 160-123 edge in first downs (146-44 rushing) … The Tigers have held eight opponents to 17 points or less … Warsaw topped Penn at Fisher Field for the program’s lone sectional title in 2019. That was Curtis’ second season as Tigers head coach … At 249-118, Curtis is eighth among the winningest current coaches in Indiana … Warsaw won 10 games was in 2001 (10-1) … The Tigers’ Sagarin Rating is No. 19 in 6A and No. 33 overall … Friday’s winner will play either Crown Point or Lake Central for the regional championship on Friday, Nov. 10. If it’s Warsaw, the game will be at Fisher Field.
About Penn: Cory Yeoman’s AP No. 8/IFCA No. 8 Kingsmen beat Elkhart 35-0 in Week 11 (sectional semifinal) … Nolan McCullough rushed for three TDs while Jake Balis ran for one and Dominic Bonner scored another on an interception return … The team gained 191 yards rushing and 167 passing … Thomas Powlus (5), Bonner (4) and Wilson Thomas (4) were total tackle leaders … Vincent Horner also intercepted a pass … Penn scores 29.6 points per contest and allows 7-6 with six shutouts, including its past four games (the last points allowed by the Wild Bunch came in Week 6 against Mishawaka Marian) … The Kingsmen’s lone loss came in Week 3 at Indianapolis Cathedral (35-6) … Penn will be seeking its 26th sectional championship. Of the 25 won so far, 12 were earned with Yeoman as head coach … Yeoman’s all-time record is 207-55 … The Kingsmen’s Sagarin Rating is No. 10 in 6A and No. 15 overall.
Per Coach Bart Curtis:
On Penn — They are extremely physical, well-coached and aggressive on defense. They’re scoring some points … Without a doubt I think (defense) is the strength of our team. We have played very consistent. It kept us in a lot of games, particularly early (in the season) … You want to be play your best football at this point in the season and in a lot of ways we are.
Moving the chains — It was a perfect storm (on the 19-play drive vs. Carroll) to hold the ball that long and score on the first play of the fourth quarter … We got the kickoff to begin the second half and put some first downs together. We weren’t in a huge hurry. We weren’t in drain-the-clock mode either.
On Carroll game — We played our best game this year as far as putting offense, defense and kicking together … We knew that any type of turnover or fumble would lead to bad things. I think that’s the first game we’ve made it through without seeing the ball on the ground … I was very pleased with our execution … (Drew Sullivan) was back for the entire game (at quarterback). He was more confident … (Isaac Beam) is playing incredible football as a senior. It’s what he’s capable of doing. He’s a lot of fun to watch, a lot of fun to coach … You want all kids on defense to make plays instead of just being cannon fodder and are kids have done that.

2A Sectional 35 Championship
Fort Wayne Bishop Luers (8-3) at Manchester (5-6)

When: Friday, 7 p.m., Burk Field, North Manchester
Series: Bishop Luers 3-0
John Harrell’s prediction: Bishop Luers 35-14
Last Meeting: Oct. 29, 2010, Bishop Luers 69-0 (sectional)
About Bishop Luers: The Knights come into this one at 8-3. Luers earned a co-conference championship in the Summit Conference after going 6-1. Last week, the Knights defeated Eastside 14-10 in the semifinals. Quarterback Kohen McKenzie threw for 144 yards to six different receivers and a touchdown while running back Giovanny Jimenez ran for 146 yards and a touchdown. Jimenez leads the team with 52 rushing yards a game and 12 total touchdowns. Mickey Daring is not far behind with 49 ground yards a contest. Defensive end Damiun Jackson is a handful, racking up 8.5 sacks and five forced fumbles so far this season.
About Manchester: Last week’s 28-21 win for the Squires gave Manchester five wins in a season for the first time since 2009, when the team went 8-2, falling to Bishop Luers in the sectional. Manchester has not played for a sectional title since 2007 and has not won one since 1991. In last week’s game, quarterback Logan Eastgate had it going, throwing for 176 yards and two touchdowns while running for 93 more, including a 51-yard score. 114 of those passing yards went to Eli Metzger. Reiss Gaerte ran for 82 yards and a score as well. Preston Duffy made five tackles against Central Noble, three for a loss. The Squires have won three out of their last five games heading into the championship game.
Manchester head coach Eddie Fields:
On playing for a sectional championship - It’s really cool. A lot of our players weren’t even born in 2007 when we played for one the last time. This is a historical season for these guys and our boys are excited for this opportunity. We want to go out there and show up for our seniors and to prove that this is a program that’s not going anywhere in the future.
On last week - We’ve talked about how important Logan is for our team. He threw it well and had a few huge conversions with his feet. He stays after practice and throws 100 balls a day after practice, just always trying to get better. It’s been awesome to see him kind of unlocking stuff in the passing game as the season goes on and it’s just giving him and us a ton of confidence.
On Bishop Luers - Obviously they’re a good football team, co-champions in a really tough conference. There are a few matchups that we like that we think can help us out, I really like the size of our lines compared to theirs, but they’ve got a ton of athletes on both sides of the ball so we’re going to have to find a way to limit big plays and force them to move the football.

Class 1A Sectional 41 Championship
North Judson (7-4) at Triton (8-3)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m., Trojan Field, Bourbon.
Series (last 35 years): North Judson, 7-4.
John Harrell’s prediction: Triton, 28-27.
Last meeting: Sept. 28, 2023, Triton, 40-7.
About North Judson: Brett Lambert’s Bluejays beat South Newton 42-0 in Week 11 (sectional semifinals) … Jesiah McDaniel ran for 129 yards and three TDs. Also running for TDs were Trey McGowen and Aidan Christensen … For the season, McDaniel has completed 34-of-71 passes for 627 yards and eight TDs with three interceptions … Brock Benson has 155 carries for 1,119 yards and 14 TDs, McDaniel 99 runs for 829 yards and 11 TDs and Kole Wilcox 105 rushes for 597 yards and nine TDs … Wilcox has nine receptions for 258 yards and three TDs, Trey McGowen 13 catches for 183 yards and one TD … Total tackle leaders are Wilcox (77), Cole Kozecar (71), Benson (65), Noah Radtke (63), Hunter Redlin (61) and McDaniel (60) … McDaniel has snagged six interceptions, Radtke three and Sam Holem and Braden Staton two each … North Judson scores 32.5 points per game and gives up 16.0 with two shutouts … The Bluejays’ Sagarin Rating is No. 8 in 1A and No. 137 overall.
About Triton: Zach Whittaker’s AP No. 9/IFCA No. 9 Trojans beat Culver Community 56-0 in Week 11 (sectional semifinals) … Jayden Overmyer (2), Vinnie Prater (2), Kohan Hensley (1), Gage Riffle (1) and Cole Shively (1) all ran for TDs and Esai Lemler recovered a fumble caused by Overmyer’s sack in the end zone. Overmyer had 10 carries for 121 yards and Prater eight totes for 81 … Shively completed 2-of-6 passes for 12 yards with one interception … Total tackle leaders were Dante’ Workman (7), Javan May (5), Hensley (4), Riffle (4), Esai Lemler (4), Evan Renforth (4) and Tucker Worsham (4). Shively, Riffle and Tanner Witt-Hoyo intercepted one pass each … Through Week 11, Shively has completed 58-of-101 passes for 1,316 yards and 20 TDs with six interceptions … Prater had 119 carries for 764 yards and six TDs, Shively 131 times for 641 yards and eight TDs and Overmyer 78 runs for 502 yards and eight TDs … Workman had 29 receptions for 732 yards and eight TDs and May 25 catches for 506 yards and 14 TDs … Total tackles leaders are Colton Reynolds (69), Shively (61), Lemler (57) and Workman (53) … Shivlely has four interceptions, Riffle and Witt-Hoyo three each Isaac Quintana two … The team averages 200.8 rushing yards and 120.8 passing yards per game (vs. 128.9 and 102.1 for opponents) … In Week 7 against North Judson, Triton led 13-0 at halftime then poured it on in the second half … Triton scores 35.5 per contest and yields 13.9 with one shutout … The only time Triton won nine games since varsity football started at the school in 1963 was in 2018 (9-4) … The Trojans’ Sagarin Rating is No. 7 in 1A and No. 131 overall … Friday’s winner will play either Park Tudor or North Vermillion for the regional championship on Friday, Nov. 10. If it’s Triton, the Trojans would travel to Park Tudor or play at home against North Vermillion.
Per Coach Zach Whittaker:
On North Judson — The first time we played them we came out and executed extremely well. We forced some turnovers. We limited our penalties and mistakes. This week, we have to make sure we do that again. We know it’s going to be a battle. We don’t expect a blowout. It’s tough to beat a team twice, especially a quality team … We have to make sure we are sticking to our (defensive) responsibility every single play. That’s what’s so hard facing an option team. You can do it 99 percent of the time, but the couple times you don’t they get a touchdown.
Offensive balance — That’s been a focus of ours. I’ve been a big fan of just running the football. You’ve got to keep defenses honest. A big part of our offense is keeping defenses on their toes (by passing and running). We don’t want teams to crowd the box so we make sure we have a balanced attack.
On Culver Community game — We came out and executed right away. To start with a defensive touchdown, you can’t really start much better than that … We worked hard all week with our running backs running hard and executing upfront. We came out and did that right away … Our sophomores really carried the load for us. It took some pressure of (Shively). He’s one of the best players I’ve ever coached. But we have to be a team. Everybody has to step up around him. He can’t do it by himself.

Class 6A Sectional 2 Championship
Warsaw (9-1) at Penn (9-1)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m., Everwise Credit Union Freed Field, Mishawaka.
Series: Penn, 7-1.
John Harrell’s prediction: Penn, 24-17.
Last meeting: Nov. 8, 2019 (sectional), Warsaw, 35-18.
About Warsaw: Bart Curtis’ Associated Press No. 11/Indiana Football Coaches Association No. 11 Tigers beat Fort Wayne Carroll 31-17 in Week 11 (sectional semifinal) … Reed Zollinger (2), Drew Sullivan (1) and Ethan Egolf (1) scored rushing TDs and Mason Smythe kicked a field goal for Warsaw … Zollinger had 34 carries for 168 yards, Sullivan 21 rushes for 81 and Egolf two runs for 27 … Warsaw started the third quarter with a 19-play, 77-yard drive that took 12:04 off the clocked and resulted in a TD … Through 10 games, Zollinger has 275 carries for 1,604 yards and 18 TDs, Luke Ransbottom 44 runs for 399 yards and four TDs, Quinton Brock 73 rushes for 277 yards and one TD, Sullivan 30 totes for 132 yards and one TD, Leyton Isbell 12 carries for 123 yards and one TD … Brock has completed 12-of-16 passes for 221 yards … Total tackle leaders are Eric Pohl (84), Jette Woodward (77), Cohen Heady (68 with 4.5 sacks), Isaac Beam (67 with 12 sacks including 3 vs. Carroll), Nathan Rosas (56 with 5.5 sacks), Corbin Johnston (41), Tristan Wilson (39), Mason Gabrich (33), Isbell (31), Daylor Vilamaa (30), Egolf (27 with 1 sack) … Interceptions have been gathered by Pohl (5), Wilson 4), Vilamaa (2), Woodward (2), Egolf (1) and Isbell (1) … Warsaw tallies 25.1 points per outing and gives up 13.3 … The team averages 309.5 yards per game (287.4 on the ground) and allows 225.6 (72.6 rushing) … It holds a 160-123 edge in first downs (146-44 rushing) … The Tigers have held eight opponents to 17 points or less … Warsaw topped Penn at Fisher Field for the program’s lone sectional title in 2019. That was Curtis’ second season as Tigers head coach … At 249-118, Curtis is eighth among the winningest current coaches in Indiana … Warsaw won 10 games was in 2001 (10-1) … The Tigers’ Sagarin Rating is No. 19 in 6A and No. 33 overall … Friday’s winner will play either Crown Point or Lake Central for the regional championship on Friday, Nov. 10. If it’s Warsaw, the game will be at Fisher Field.
About Penn: Cory Yeoman’s AP No. 8/IFCA No. 8 Kingsmen beat Elkhart 35-0 in Week 11 (sectional semifinal) … Nolan McCullough rushed for three TDs while Jake Balis ran for one and Dominic Bonner scored another on an interception return … The team gained 191 yards rushing and 167 passing … Thomas Powlus (5), Bonner (4) and Wilson Thomas (4) were total tackle leaders … Vincent Horner also intercepted a pass … Penn scores 29.6 points per contest and allows 7-6 with six shutouts, including its past four games (the last points allowed by the Wild Bunch came in Week 6 against Mishawaka Marian) … The Kingsmen’s lone loss came in Week 3 at Indianapolis Cathedral (35-6) … Penn will be seeking its 26th sectional championship. Of the 25 won so far, 12 were earned with Yeoman as head coach … Yeoman’s all-time record is 207-55 … The Kingsmen’s Sagarin Rating is No. 10 in 6A and No. 15 overall.
Per Coach Bart Curtis:
On Penn — They are extremely physical, well-coached and aggressive on defense. They’re scoring some points … Without a doubt I think (defense) is the strength of our team. We have played very consistent. It kept us in a lot of games, particularly early (in the season) … You want to be play your best football at this point in the season and in a lot of ways we are.
Moving the chains — It was a perfect storm (on the 19-play drive vs. Carroll) to hold the ball that long and score on the first play of the fourth quarter … We got the kickoff to begin the second half and put some first downs together. We weren’t in a huge hurry. We weren’t in drain-the-clock mode either.
On Carroll game — We played our best game this year as far as putting offense, defense and kicking together … We knew that any type of turnover or fumble would lead to bad things. I think that’s the first game we’ve made it through without seeing the ball on the ground … I was very pleased with our execution … (Drew Sullivan) was back for the entire game (at quarterback). He was more confident … (Isaac Beam) is playing incredible football as a senior. It’s what he’s capable of doing. He’s a lot of fun to watch, a lot of fun to coach … You want all kids on defense to make plays instead of just being cannon fodder and are kids have done that.

2A Sectional 35 Championship
Fort Wayne Bishop Luers (8-3) at Manchester (5-6)

When: Friday, 7 p.m., Burk Field, North Manchester
Series: Bishop Luers 3-0
John Harrell’s prediction: Bishop Luers 35-14
Last Meeting: Oct. 29, 2010, Bishop Luers 69-0 (sectional)
About Bishop Luers: The Knights come into this one at 8-3. Luers earned a co-conference championship in the Summit Conference after going 6-1. Last week, the Knights defeated Eastside 14-10 in the semifinals. Quarterback Kohen McKenzie threw for 144 yards to six different receivers and a touchdown while running back Giovanny Jimenez ran for 146 yards and a touchdown. Jimenez leads the team with 52 rushing yards a game and 12 total touchdowns. Mickey Daring is not far behind with 49 ground yards a contest. Defensive end Damiun Jackson is a handful, racking up 8.5 sacks and five forced fumbles so far this season.
About Manchester: Last week’s 28-21 win for the Squires gave Manchester five wins in a season for the first time since 2009, when the team went 8-2, falling to Bishop Luers in the sectional. Manchester has not played for a sectional title since 2007 and has not won one since 1991. In last week’s game, quarterback Logan Eastgate had it going, throwing for 176 yards and two touchdowns while running for 93 more, including a 51-yard score. 114 of those passing yards went to Eli Metzger. Reiss Gaerte ran for 82 yards and a score as well. Preston Duffy made five tackles against Central Noble, three for a loss. The Squires have won three out of their last five games heading into the championship game.
Manchester head coach Eddie Fields:
On playing for a sectional championship - It’s really cool. A lot of our players weren’t even born in 2007 when we played for one the last time. This is a historical season for these guys and our boys are excited for this opportunity. We want to go out there and show up for our seniors and to prove that this is a program that’s not going anywhere in the future.
On last week - We’ve talked about how important Logan is for our team. He threw it well and had a few huge conversions with his feet. He stays after practice and throws 100 balls a day after practice, just always trying to get better. It’s been awesome to see him kind of unlocking stuff in the passing game as the season goes on and it’s just giving him and us a ton of confidence.
On Bishop Luers - Obviously they’re a good football team, co-champions in a really tough conference. There are a few matchups that we like that we think can help us out, I really like the size of our lines compared to theirs, but they’ve got a ton of athletes on both sides of the ball so we’re going to have to find a way to limit big plays and force them to move the football.

Class 1A Sectional 41 Championship
North Judson (7-4) at Triton (8-3)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m., Trojan Field, Bourbon.
Series (last 35 years): North Judson, 7-4.
John Harrell’s prediction: Triton, 28-27.
Last meeting: Sept. 28, 2023, Triton, 40-7.
About North Judson: Brett Lambert’s Bluejays beat South Newton 42-0 in Week 11 (sectional semifinals) … Jesiah McDaniel ran for 129 yards and three TDs. Also running for TDs were Trey McGowen and Aidan Christensen … For the season, McDaniel has completed 34-of-71 passes for 627 yards and eight TDs with three interceptions … Brock Benson has 155 carries for 1,119 yards and 14 TDs, McDaniel 99 runs for 829 yards and 11 TDs and Kole Wilcox 105 rushes for 597 yards and nine TDs … Wilcox has nine receptions for 258 yards and three TDs, Trey McGowen 13 catches for 183 yards and one TD … Total tackle leaders are Wilcox (77), Cole Kozecar (71), Benson (65), Noah Radtke (63), Hunter Redlin (61) and McDaniel (60) … McDaniel has snagged six interceptions, Radtke three and Sam Holem and Braden Staton two each … North Judson scores 32.5 points per game and gives up 16.0 with two shutouts … The Bluejays’ Sagarin Rating is No. 8 in 1A and No. 137 overall.
About Triton: Zach Whittaker’s AP No. 9/IFCA No. 9 Trojans beat Culver Community 56-0 in Week 11 (sectional semifinals) … Jayden Overmyer (2), Vinnie Prater (2), Kohan Hensley (1), Gage Riffle (1) and Cole Shively (1) all ran for TDs and Esai Lemler recovered a fumble caused by Overmyer’s sack in the end zone. Overmyer had 10 carries for 121 yards and Prater eight totes for 81 … Shively completed 2-of-6 passes for 12 yards with one interception … Total tackle leaders were Dante’ Workman (7), Javan May (5), Hensley (4), Riffle (4), Esai Lemler (4), Evan Renforth (4) and Tucker Worsham (4). Shively, Riffle and Tanner Witt-Hoyo intercepted one pass each … Through Week 11, Shively has completed 58-of-101 passes for 1,316 yards and 20 TDs with six interceptions … Prater had 119 carries for 764 yards and six TDs, Shively 131 times for 641 yards and eight TDs and Overmyer 78 runs for 502 yards and eight TDs … Workman had 29 receptions for 732 yards and eight TDs and May 25 catches for 506 yards and 14 TDs … Total tackles leaders are Colton Reynolds (69), Shively (61), Lemler (57) and Workman (53) … Shivlely has four interceptions, Riffle and Witt-Hoyo three each Isaac Quintana two … The team averages 200.8 rushing yards and 120.8 passing yards per game (vs. 128.9 and 102.1 for opponents) … In Week 7 against North Judson, Triton led 13-0 at halftime then poured it on in the second half … Triton scores 35.5 per contest and yields 13.9 with one shutout … The only time Triton won nine games since varsity football started at the school in 1963 was in 2018 (9-4) … The Trojans’ Sagarin Rating is No. 7 in 1A and No. 131 overall … Friday’s winner will play either Park Tudor or North Vermillion for the regional championship on Friday, Nov. 10. If it’s Triton, the Trojans would travel to Park Tudor or play at home against North Vermillion.
Per Coach Zach Whittaker:
On North Judson — The first time we played them we came out and executed extremely well. We forced some turnovers. We limited our penalties and mistakes. This week, we have to make sure we do that again. We know it’s going to be a battle. We don’t expect a blowout. It’s tough to beat a team twice, especially a quality team … We have to make sure we are sticking to our (defensive) responsibility every single play. That’s what’s so hard facing an option team. You can do it 99 percent of the time, but the couple times you don’t they get a touchdown.
Offensive balance — That’s been a focus of ours. I’ve been a big fan of just running the football. You’ve got to keep defenses honest. A big part of our offense is keeping defenses on their toes (by passing and running). We don’t want teams to crowd the box so we make sure we have a balanced attack.
On Culver Community game — We came out and executed right away. To start with a defensive touchdown, you can’t really start much better than that … We worked hard all week with our running backs running hard and executing upfront. We came out and did that right away … Our sophomores really carried the load for us. It took some pressure of (Shively). He’s one of the best players I’ve ever coached. But we have to be a team. Everybody has to step up around him. He can’t do it by himself.

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