Wawasee (1-5, 1-3 NLC) at Warsaw (5-1, 3-1 NLC)
When: Friday, 7 p.m., Fisher Field, Warsaw.
Series (last 35 years): Warsaw, 24-10.
John Harrell’s prediction: Warsaw, 31-10.
Last meeting: Sept. 30, 2022, Warsaw, 36-0.
About Wawasee: Jon Reutebuch’s 4A Warriors lost 14-7 to Northridge in Week 6 … Wawasee led 7-0 at the end of the first quarter on a 2-yard Donovan Blair touchdown run and the score was tied 7-7 at halftime … Luke Keim completed 12-of-25 passes for 88 yards and one interception … Derek Bontrager caught seven passes for 36 yards … Brandon Kelly (8), Dawson Schmucker (7), Payton Sewell (6) and Dallas Miller (5) were total tackle leaders … Six Warrior tackles were for lost yardage … Through six games, Keim is 20-of-44 for 147 yards … Hunter Tinkey has 53 carries for 378 yards and two TDs, Brandon Kelly 41 totes for 233 yards and one TD and Barrett Kelly 47 rushes for 206 yards and one TD … Bontrager has 27 catches for 248 yards and four TDs, Tinkey 19 receptions for 289 yards and two TDs, Blair 10 grabs for 153 yards … Brandon Kelly (45), Sewell (37), Barrett Kelly (33), Bontrager (30), Blair (25) and Schmucker (25) are tops in total tackles … Tight end/defensive end Blair was ejected Friday on a first-half punt play and will not be able to play against Warsaw.
Per Coach Jon Reutebuch:
On Warsaw — It’s a rivalry game. It’s the “W” Trophy Game. It’s another NLC opponent. There’s a lot to play for … (Warsaw) plays the flexbone and are going to be very physical and has a very aggressive defense … We expect to get their best.
Season so far — Our record doesn’t warrant a high grade … We beat Goshen. We should have beat Plymouth. We could’ve beat West Noble or Tippy Valley if we had the same energy we had (against Northridge) … It’s disappointing that it’s taken this long to get into it. Hopefully, it’s a new level of play we exhibit the last couple of weeks of the season and carry into the sectional.
On Northridge game — We had opportunities to win the game. The kids played really, really hard. We feel like we set a new standard on our level of play. After the Concord game (in Week 5), I really didn’t know where we were going to go from there. We decided to flush it and focus all our energy on Northridge. We knew we were a better than what we showed … We played a really good ball game on Friday night.
About Warsaw: Bart Curtis’s 6A AP vote-getter Tigers lost 34-11 at Mishawaka in Week 6 … Warsaw, which trailed 20-3 at halftime, had a 29-yard field goal by Mason Smythe in the second quarter and a 2-yard TD run by Reed Zollinger plus a two-point conversion in the fourth period … Zollinger carried 29 times for 81 yards and the team had 49 rushes for 149 yards … Quinton Brock completed 3-of-6 passes for 32 yards … Grady Nolan had two catches for 23 yards … Through six games, Zollinger has 165 carries for 965 yards nine TDs, Luke Ransbottom 31 totes for 305 yards and three TDs and Brock 65 runs for 176 yards … Red Zone efficiency is 64 percent with 13 TDs and three field goals in 25 visits … Brock is 9-of-22 passing for 166 yards … Smythe is 15-of-15 on extra points and 8-of-10 on field goal attempts … Opponents average 81.0 yards rushing and 156.7 yards passing … Total tackle leaders are Cohen Heady (49), Isaac Beam (46), Eric Pohl (46), Jette Woodward (46), Nathan Rosas (36), Ethan Egolf (27), Corbin Johnson (21), Tristan Wilson (21), Mason Gabrich (20), Leyton Isbell (19) and Daylor Vilamaa (19) … Beam (7), Rosas (4.5), Heady (3.5) and Egolf (1) are pace-setters in sacks … Pohl and Woodward have two interceptions each … Warsaw has won eight straight against Wawasee. The last Warriors’ win in the “W Trophy Game” came in 2015.
Per Coach Bart Curtis:
On Wawasee — They’re going to play with that same type of intensity that they played with last Friday night. We will get without a doubt — 100 percent — their very best shot. We have to be able to rise and (respond). If we are not ready to do that it will be a long night … It is going to be a physical, well-played game … We’ll see what we’re made of. Anybody can be a great teammate when things are going your way.
Season so far — At times it feels like we’re operating a 4-cylinder vehicle on 2 cylinders and other times it looks like we have an 8-cylinder vehicle and we’re operating on 6 … Obviously, our strength is our defense.
On Mishawaka game — It was different than I imagined going into it … I believe in our kids. They have a lot of heart. Right now, Mishawaka is far more comfortable in playing in that type of game than we are … If you’re not comfortable being off your feet and playing a thigh-board level or lower — no matter who you play — it’s going to be a rough night … They ran our stuff and their stuff far better than we defended it … Every play counts. (Mishawaka) did a really good job of big-playing us.
Tippecanoe Valley (6-0) at West Lafayette (5-1)
When: Friday, 7 p.m., Straley Field.
Series: First meeting (and Tippecanoe Valley’s first visit to Tippecanoe County).
John Harrell’s prediction: Valley, 31-28.
About Valley: The Vikings, in their school-record fourth straight home game, handled Jimtown 35-14 last week, but lost two-way sophomore standout Grady Moriarty, likely for the rest of the season, due to a broken bone in his right leg. Moriarty ranks second on the team with 53 tackles from his linebacker spot, is tied for second in sacks with three and is second in yards rushing with 243. … Joined by West Lafayette (27-3) among others, Valley (25-3) is part of a six-way tie for second-fewest losses in the state since the start of the 2021 season. Only Class 1A Indianapolis Lutheran (36-0) has fewer. … The Vikings have moved up to seventh in the 3A AP poll and 11th in the coaches’ poll, while West Lafayette’s up to second and third. … Valley senior Nate Parker, credited with 166 rushing yards against Jimtown, continues to post huge numbers. He’s at 919 yards on 92 carries (10.0 average) and 13 touchdowns on the ground, to go with 273 receiving yards on 11 catches and another four TDs. Senior Wade Jones has 11 catches for 304 yards and four TDs. Senior quarterback Cody Eastgate is 33-of-62 throwing for 758 yards and eight TDs against three picks. … Defensively, senior end Dalton Alber has registered seven of his team’s 23 sacks and nine of its 45 tackles for loss. Junior linebacker Brock Derf is the overall tackle leader at 55. Jones has three interceptions and a school-record 17 for his career.
About West Lafayette: The Red Devils own the state’s second-best record over Shane Fry’s 11 years as head coach at 112-20 (New Palestine’s 120-13), including the 2018 Class 3A state title along with six sectional, four regional and two semistate crowns. … West Lafayette is 15-1 at home since the start of 2020, the only blemish being last fall’s 21-3 semistate loss to eventual 3A state champ Indianapolis Chatard. … Quarterback Carson Kitchel, a 6-3, 180-pound senior, leads the offense at 113-of-163 passing (69.3%) for 1,427 yards and 15 touchdowns against just two interceptions. Kitchel has spread the wealth, with junior Benny Speaker (32 catches, 461 yards, four TDs), Liam Burton (28, 325, four), Niko Roumbakis (17, 167, three) and twin brother Cooper Kitchel (12, 219, three) being his top targets. … Junior Dawson Martin has added 526 yards rushing and seven TDs on 97 carries, with freshman Kojo Steffey at 160 and two on 33. … Defensively, the Devils have piled up 51 tackles for loss, paced by senior end Porter Mitrione at 17. Mitrione has 54 tackles overall, trailing only junior linebacker David Curl at 65. Speaker, at safety, has notched four of his team’s six takeaways, including three fumble recoveries. … West Lafayette’s won five straight, including each of its last four by at least 30 points, since a season-opening 42-6 loss at neighboring 5A power Harrison (5-1).
Valley coach Steve Moriarty:
On last week — “It was a good win. We stopped their run game and made them try to beat us by throwing the ball. I thought we did pretty well in pass coverage other than a couple broken series. Trent Marshall, Brock Derf and obviously Nate had great games running the ball, spreading out the defense.”
On West Lafayette — “They mostly throw, and do it very accurately, but then they’ll lull you to sleep a little bit and run it. They’re a fast-paced offense, usually snap it within 19 seconds. We’ll have to be on our toes. There are times we won’t be able to huddle, so we’ll have to be alert and creative there.”
On ranked vs. ranked opportunity — “It’s one of those games you definitely want to play in, a great chance for our kids. It will be kind of (surreal being on the road for the first time in five weeks). It’s a long trip to get down there, so that will be a challenge getting our legs stretched out before we go full speed.”
Manchester (2-4 overall, 2-3 TRC) at Whitko (1-5, 0-5)
When: Friday, 7 p.m., Huff Stadium, South Whitley.
Series: Whitko leads 34-18.
Last meeting: Manchester won 36-6, Oct. 21, 2022, 2A sectional first round.
Last Whitko win: 20-14, Oct. 2, 2020.
John Harrell’s prediction: Manchester, 28-24.
About Manchester: The Squires come into this game trying to snap a three game losing streak. Last time out, Manchester fell 8-7 to Southwood after the Knights scored the game-winning touchdown with a few minutes left. Sophomore Reiss Gaerte continued his fantastic sophomore campaign, finishing his night on offense with 118 all purpose yards and the team’s lone touchdown while being one of the Squires’ top three tacklers on defense. Eli Metzger leads the team with nearly 50 receiving yards a game, and is second behind Gaerte in touchdowns with two. Quarterback Logan Eastgate threw for 112 yards against Southwood last week. Manchester has scored just 14 points over its last three games. Head coach and Whitko graduate Eddie Fields coaches against the Wildcats for the first time in this one.
About Whitko: Junior receiver Riley Harman caught two passes for 69 yards and the Wildcats’ lone touchdown last week, upping his season totals to 12 catches for 302 yards. … Whitko fell 52-6 at Lewis Cass, trailing 46-6 at halftime on the way to dropping its 17th straight Three Rivers Conference game since September 2021. King backs ran roughshod, with five of them teaming for 389 yards and seven touchdowns on just 15 combined carries. … The Cats have lost 10 consecutive home games — including last year’s sectional playoff opener when they met Manchester in postseason for the first time since 2007. … Junior Trevor Freel rushed for 57 yards against Cass. He’s at a team-leading 290 on the season and 4.3 per carry. Senior quarterback Jack Hill’s thrown for 361 yards and three TDs. … On the defensive side, junior Isaac Irwin leads the way with 31 tackles overall and 6.5 for loss.
Manchester coach Eddie Fields:
On defensive improvement - I think last week we played well for 99% of the game. They scored with three minutes left on a play we work on in practice all the time, so that was tough to see. Before that play we had only allowed 65 yards rushing for the game. Our three leading tacklers were a freshman and two sophomores so it’s good to see the young guys staying hungry and making plays.
On Gaerte’s stellar season - He’s a phenomenal kid. He’s so physically talented and hard working. It’s crazy that he’s only a sophomore. We ask him to do so much for us and if we were able to keep him in one role he could be even better. I think when it’s all said and done in three years we could be talking about him as one of the best players to ever come out of here.
On returning to Whitko - There are a lot of people over there that I care about. I don’t ever want to make it about me though, so It’s not something we’ve brought up at all this week to our players. This is a game about Manchester and not about me showing up for homecoming.
Whitko coach Brad Sprunger:
On last week — “The first quarter was actually pretty good. Walked out of there (trailing) 6-8, and then in the second we gave up 38 points. We were a little better after halftime, but you’ve got a running clock, so you’re going to fall short. We had a lot of distractions for a young team last week. It kind of (ballooned) and the kids looked exhausted from it. … We’ve got those cleared up.”
On Manchester — “They’ve got some big boys and they’re pretty quick. Our goal is to not let them run and make them throw. Defensively, they’ve got some speed. They’ve been near the top in TRC track the last few years and it really shows in their defense. They shut down Southwood pretty good (last week despite the 8-7 loss).”
On bouncing back — (from season’s most lopsided loss) “When you play four of your first six on the road and your shortest trip is an hour, I think it takes a toll. The kids may not realize it, but it can wear you down. We’ve got some home games now (two of the next three). Manchester’s become a good rival for us. We’re close and a lot of the kids know each other. I think the kids will be up.”
North Judson (4-2, 3-2 HNAC) at Triton (4-2, 3-2 HNAC)
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m., Trojan Field, Bourbon.
Series (last 35 years): North Judson, 7-3.
John Harrell’s prediction: Triton, 28-27.
Last meeting: Saturday, Sept. 30, North Judson, 62-22.
About North Judson: Brett Lambert’s 1A AP No. 10/Indiana Football Coaches Association No. 14 Bluejays beat South Central (Union Mills) 56-24 in Week 6 … North Judson rolled for 411 total yards (293 rushing) while giving up 281 (205 passing) … Through six games, Jesiah McDaniel is 20-of-42 for 408 yards and five TDs with two interceptions … Brock Benson has 72 carries for 667 yards and nine TDs, McDaniel 53 totes for 357 yards and four TDs and Kole Wilcox 53 rushes for 276 yards and seven TDs … Wilcox has five catches for 182 yards and two TDs … Total tackle leaders are Wilcox (55), McDaniel (40), Cole Kozecar (39), Hunter Redlin (39) and Brock Benson (37) … McDaniel has three interceptions … North Judson has won the last five games against Triton.
About Triton: Zach Whittaker’s 1A AP vote-getter/IFCA No. 14 Trojans won 27-16 at Pioneer in Week 6 … Triton fell behind 8-0 early … Cole Shively connected on 5-for-9 for 77 yards and one TD with one interception … With fullback Vinnie Prater sidelined by injury on the second drive of the game, Shively carried 31 times for 162 yards and two TDs and Jayden Overmyer 13 attempts for 80 yards and one TD … Javan May caught a 42-yard TD pass … Esai Lemler (9), Shively (8), Colton Reynolds (6), Overmyer (5), Dante’ Workman (5) and Evan Renforth (5) led in total tackles.
Per Coach Zach Whittaker:
On North Judson — They’re one of the more physical teams we play. They’ve got their big fullback they rely on (Brock Benson). We’ve got to make sure we’re not tackling one-on-one but gang-tackling and executing our (defensive) assignments against their triple-option looks … I’d like to go into this week preaching physicality because that’s what we’re going to have to bring.
Season so far — We are trending in the right direction. We’ve had so many injuries. I had eight guys in street clothes and had Vinnie go down … We react to adversity and continue to get better. Our No. 2’s haven gotten so much better because they’re been thrown in … Hopefully we can get healthy again and keep improving and can go where we want to go.
On Pioneer game — We battled back. We controlled the line of scrimmage which is extremely important against a team like that. Both teams were battling some big injuries … (Shively) did a really good job. I put a lot of stuff on his shoulders as a senior captain.