Class 3A Sectional 28 First Round
Tippecanoe Valley (9-0) at Indianapolis Chatard (9-0)
When: Friday, 7 p.m., Chatard Stadium.
Series: First-ever meeting.
John Harrell’s prediction: Chatard, 31-21.
About this sectional: Besides looking at the two teams, it’s warranted to look at this absurdly loaded sectional collectively. Unmatched statewide in almost any year and certainly this year, consider that four of the top five schools in the final AP Class 3A state poll (No. 1 Chatard, No. 3 Guerin Catholic, No. 4 Valley and No. 5 Hamilton Heights) are in this sectional, as is No. 9 Peru (9-0); in contrast, no other sectional in any class has more than two top-nine teams. Further, there are four unbeatens in this sectional, and that doesn’t even include Guerin (7-2); no other sectional in any class has more than two unbeatens. Further still, seven of the eight teams have winning records; no other sectional can match that rate. Finally, the eight teams have a combined 57-15 record, a .792 percentage; the next-best figures statewide are .750 and .722, and those are in four-team sectionals in Class 5A and 6A.
About Valley: Star running back Nate Parker’s foot injury has not healed as well as hoped and he’s expected to miss a third straight game, per coach Steve Moriarty. Fellow back Brandon Stiles remains out with a foot injury, too. … The Vikings capped their second unbeaten regular season in three years and Moriarty notched his 50th career win against 24 losses in last week’s 51-16 blasting of Bremen. … Besides facing Chatard for the first time, this will mark just the second game for Valley against any Indianapolis school, the other a 15-6 loss to Ritter in the 1977 Class 1A state final. … Junior Wyatt Hart came on to rush for 183 yards and four touchdowns on 18 carries against Bremen as the Vikings continued to display a deep stable of backs. Senior Trent Marshall added 89 yards, pushing his season total to 314 on 38 carries. … Senior QB Cody Eastgate is 54-of-91 throwing for 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns against six picks, while senior wing Wade Jones has 18 catches for 422 yards and four TDs. … On defense, Jones intercepted two more passes last week, upping his season total to seven and career figure to a video-game-like 22. … The Wrecking Crew has notched 60 tackles for loss, including 12 by senior end Dalton Alber, eight by junior Brock Derf, and seven each by seniors Landon Durkes and Cameron Mason. Alber has seven of the 26 sacks on a club that also has 25 takeaways. … Sophomore kicker Gage Overbey is 43-of-45 on extra points and 8-of-13 on field goals, twice striking from 46 yards. … Valley’s won five straight sectional openers to tie a school record, but continues to seek its first sectional title since 1992. … With a win, the Vikings would host in the semifinals against Guerin or Peru.
About Chatard: Coach Rob Doyle’s top-ranked Trojans own three Class 3A state titles in the last four years, including last year, yet this team’s looking to accomplish something none of those others did by going undefeated. … Chatard whipped Cincinnati Elder 34-7 last week to close the regular season (Elder’s 5-4, but two of its losses are by a combined five points to the No. 1 and 3-ranked teams in Ohio’s top division). The Trojans also own wins of 24-21 over 6A No. 4 Indy Cathedral and 13-7 over 3A No. 2 Guerin. … Junior Daniel Shaw, who didn’t become Chatard’s featured back until Week 4, following a Week 3 injury to Riley Kinnett, has rushed for 784 yards and eight touchdowns on 145 carries. Kinnettt piled up 496 yards and four TDs over the first three games and hasn’t played since, but is expected back Friday. … Sophomore QB Jack Harrington, pressed into duty upon a Week 6 injury to senior Aiden Arteaga, has shined over the last three games, completing 38-of-49 passes for 446 yards and seven TDs against one interception. Arteaga, too, is expected back this week. He’s 55-of-92 for 670 yards and nine TDs against two picks, and is a run threat as well with 145 net yards and four scores. … Senior receivers Colin Guy and Jack Weybright have combined for 53 catches, 722 yards and 11 TDs. … The Trojan defense has registered 20 takeaways (double the offense’s 10 giveaways), including five interceptions by senior defensive back Zach Garner, while the special teams unit has blocked three punts. Chatard kickers are 36-of-41 on extra points, but just 1-of-5 on field goals, the make from 30 yards. … With a win, the Trojans would be home against Peru or at Guerin.
Valley coach Steve Moriarty:
On Chatard — “In my opinion, they’re a better team than last year when they won state. They’ve got a lot of weapons on both sides of the ball. Defensively, they have such great closing speed. They kind of take away that big-play threat because of their closing capacity. On offense, they attack out of so many different formations. It can be tough to figure out.”
On keys to beating — “I think we have to be able to slow down their run game for sure. They can pass, but love to run; do that about 60%. We can’t have penalties or turn the ball over. This will have to be a clean game for us, and I think special teams will play a big part in this game. Defensively, I think we’ll be fine. Offensively will be a key. They’re similar in style to West Lafayette, so it’ll help that we played them.”
Class 4A Sectional 18
South Bend Riley (8-1) at Wawasee (1-8)
When: Friday, 7 p.m., Warrior Stadium, Syracuse.
Series: No meetings.
John Harrell’s prediction: Riley, 24-21.
About Riley: Darrick Lee’s 4A Indiana Football Coaches Association No. 15 Wildcats beat Jimtown 24-12 in Week 9 … Austin White was 2-of-8 for 11 yards passing and rushed for two touchdowns … Dominick Jolley carried 26 times for 183 yards and one TD … For nine games, White has completed 67-of-148 passes for 1,064 yards and 14 TDs with six interceptions … Jolley has 194 rushes for 1,180 yards and 18 TDs, White 40 totes for 298 yards and five TDs … Marvin Schindler (22 catches for 448 yards and six TDs) and Payton Bair (15 receptions for 293 yards and four TDs) are receiving leaders … Robert Nabieu (65) guides the team in total tackles … Riley won the Northern Indiana Conference North-South Division title … It’s been since 1997 that Riley posted eight wins in a season and this is the third season since ’97 the Wildcats have been above .500 … Riley is 15-38 in IHSAA tournament history since 1973. The Wildats’ last postseason win came in 2018 … Friday’s advancing team meets the winner of Northridge vs. Logansport in the sectional semifinals.
About Wawasee: Jon Reutebuch’s Warriors lost 41-22 to Mishawaka in Week 9 … Mason Shoemaker was 9-of-15 for 94 yards and one TD passing (to Derek Bontrager). The other two end zone visits were on the ground by Luke Keim and Donovan Blair … Jayden Stahl (9) and Payton Sewell (7) led in total tackles … Bradyn Pike recovered two fumbles and Michael Wood one … For nine games, Shoemaker has completed 99-of-166 passes for 1,167 yards and 11 TDs with 11 interceptions … Hunter Tinkey has 61 carries for 395 yards and two TDs and Brandon Kelly 57 totes for 252 yards and one TD … Tinkey has 36 catches for 501 yards and three TDs, Bontrager 41 receptions for 420 and six TDs, Blair 15 grabs for 212 yards and one TD and Pike 13 catches for 169 yards and 1 TD … Pacing in total tackles are Brandon Kelly (68), Sewell (60) and Barrett Kelly (50) … Sewell has six fumble recoveries and Bontrager four … Wawasee finished at 1-6 in the Northern Lakes Conference … The Warriors are 21-39 in IHSAA tournament history since 1973. Wawasee’s last postseason win came in 2012 … Wawasee is on fall break this week.
Per Coach Jon Reutebuch:
On Riley — We actually see them at Manchester camp every summer so we are somewhat familiar with them despite not playing them. They present some problems. Defensively, they’re pretty active. They swarm to the football. Offensively, they have several weapons they can utilize if not checked … They’re fairly well-balanced. They probably like to run the ball just a little bit more than they throw it. They have threats … We’re going to have to execute very well.
Sectional week — We try to keep it as close to our routine as possible. We talk to our kids about not sleeping until noon and staying up late.
On Mishawaka game — Miserable weather and missing a lot of people equals poor results. I’m proud of our boys for not giving up and continuing to compete until the end.
Class 2A Sectional 35 First Round
Manchester (3-6) at Whitko (1-8)
When: Friday, 7 p.m., Huff Stadium, South Whitley.
Series: Whitko leads 34-19.
Last meeting: Manchester won 21-0 on Sept. 29.
Last Whitko win: 20-14, Oct. 2, 2020.
John Harrell’s prediction: Manchester, 28-21.
About Manchester: Manchester is coming off of a 52-6 loss to Peru last Friday, a game the Squires led early on a Reiss Gaerte kickoff return touchdown, his second of the season. Gaerte also led the team in total yardage, finishing with 49 yards. Quarterback Logan Eastgate completed three passes for 49 yards. This sectional quarterfinal game is a rematch of a September 29 contest between the two Three Rivers Conference schools. Manchester won the regular season matchup 21-0 after the game was tied and scoreless at the half. Gaerte was the difference maker in that one, running for 128 yards and two scores. Preston Duffy also had a nice game, finishing with 78 rushing yards … The Squires are 2-1 against Whitko in postseason games, including last year’s 36-6 road win. … With a victory, Manchester would be home for the semifinals regardless of opponent, hosting Central Noble (3-6) or Prairie Heights (0-9).
About Whitko: The Wildcats fell 35-0 to Wabash last week, their third straight shutout loss, a streak that began against Manchester, and their eighth straight defeat overall. Whitko trailed just 14-0 at halftime. … Junior Grady Branning had eight tackles, including five solos, while classmate Riley Harman added seven and five. Breyden Kirkdorffer, another junior, had four solos and is at a team-leading 7.5 tackles for loss on the year, just ahead of classmate Isaac Irwin’s seven. Senior Kaden Long made his second interception. … On offense, sophomore Landon Smith rushed for 78 yards. Junior Trevor Freel added 52 and is the team’s season leader at 371. … Harman has caught 17 passes for 431 yards. … The Cats have lost 12 straight home games since October of 2021, including three to Manchester. … Whitko is seeking its first postseason win since 2016, having dropped six straight sectional openers. … With a victory, the Cats would be home for the semifinals against Central Noble (3-6) or return to the same spot where they opened the season, and won, by heading to Prairie Heights (0-9).
Manchester coach Eddie Fields:
On Peru game: Our defense gave up a lot of points but we were forcing them to drive the ball on us as opposed to giving up the big chunk plays for touchdowns like we have been. Our special teams had another great night as well. We hit a couple of nice third down throws too but just weren’t able to finish off drives.
On Whitko rematch: They’re trying to run the football and we’re trying to run the football. But we also need to score so I think taking a few shots is going to be huge for us this week. We’re going to have to play disciplined to do so. This was a 0-0 game at halftime last time out so we’re not taking anything for granted. We’ve got to show up.
On staying focused: We need to start off strong and finish strong as well. We led against Peru, we led against Southwood and we led against Northfield before losing all three of those. We led against Wabash before having to get it done in double overtime. We’ve got to stay consistent for a full game.
Whitko coach Brad Sprunger:
(Note: Sprunger had strep throat Tuesday night and could only communicate by text.)
On last week — “We played fairly well, but turnovers killed us. Some of the younger players stepped up and played well and contributed in big ways.”
On this week — “We just have to get the ball in the end zone and we will be fine.”
On whether he’ll be back Friday — “I think so. I missed practice today and woke up (later in the evening). So definitely resting.”
Class 1A Sectional 41
Triton (6-3) at North Newton (0-9)
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m., Dick Gilbert Field, Morocco.
Series: No meetings.
John Harrell’s prediction: Triton, 59-0.
About Triton: Zach Whittaker’s 1A AP No. 9/IFCA No. 9 Trojans beat Winamac 35-6 in Week 9 … Cole Shively leads the team in scoring and passing and is one of the top rushers and tacklers … Triton finished at 5-2 in the Hoosier North Athletic Conference, good for third place … The Spartans score 29.3 points per game and yield 16.3 … Friday’s advancing team meets the winner of Culver Community vs. South Central (Union Mills) in the sectional semifinals … Triton is 25-38 in IHSAA tournament history since 1973. The Trojans’ last postseason win came in the first round in 2022 … Triton is on fall break this week. With Friday’s opponent being 90 miles or about a two-hour bus ride away and in the Central Time zone, kickoff has been set at 7:30 p.m. Eastern/6:30 Central, meaning the Trojans will likely leave for Morocco about four hours before the game.
About North Newton: Jonathon Ewing’s Spartans lost 56-20 to Tri-County in Week 9 …
North Newton gives up 59.4 points per game and score 4.3. The Spartans have been shut out five times and held to seven points per less on three other occasions … North Newton is 20-40 in IHSAA tournament history since 1973. The Spartans’ last postseason win came in 2018.
Per Coach Zach Whittaker:
On North Newton — We want to come in respecting every opponent no matter their record. We’re going to prepare the best we can for them and improving our fundamentals.
Sectional week — We are keeping the (practice) schedule exactly the same as normal. We don’t want to get them out of any of their routines … Even though it’s a break from school, it’s not a break from football. That’s always the message this time of year.
On Winamac game — We were able to execute well early. Our offensive line did a much better job than we did (in Week 8) against Knox. We were executing and communicating a lot better. Defensively, we were playing extremely well.