(PHOTO BY DOUG.CLEMENTS@PROMOTIONPHOTOS.COM)
By Al Stilley
Although the 51st annual IHSAA football playoffs begin Friday, reigning state champions 6A Center Grove and Class A Lutheran must wait until Oct. 27 to play.
Teams in 5A and 6A won’t begin competing until Oct. 27. Drawing a bye in Class A Sectional 47, Lutheran also must wait after last playing Oct. 6.
Three Southside teams - 4A Roncalli, 4A Beech Grove, and 2A Christel House Manual - see action Friday. The Royals are at home against underdog Shortridge while Beech Grove travels to Muncie Central and CH Manual is at home against Eastern.
Center Grove will be seeking a fourth consecutive 6A state championship while Lutheran takes aim at a third straight Class A title.
Guided by veteran coach Eric Moore (25th year, 244-75), the Trojans have been to the 6A title game for four straight playoffs – losing to Carmel in 2019 but downing Westfield in 2020 and 2021 and dominating Fort Wayne Carroll last year in Lucas Oil Stadium.
Lutheran, under veteran mentor Dave Pasch (16th year, 146-53) put up back-to-back 15-0 campaigns capped by defeating Adams Central for the Class A state championships. The Saints have a phenomenal 38-game winning streak.
Greenwood Christian Academy is not eligible for the 2022 playoffs because this is the Cougars first full varsity season. GCA finished with a 5-4 winning season after a partial 2-2 varsity campaign last year in the high school’s first football venture.
All sectional championships will be played Nov. 3 with regional titles decided Nov. 10, and semistate games Nov. 17 with those winners advancing to Lucas Oil Stadium Nov. 24-25.
Sectional game admission is $7 per person, children 5-and-under free. All tickets for regional, semistate, and state championship games will be digital.
Here’s the sectional preview for Southside teams:
LUTHERAN (8-0) – No. 1 Class A Saints have state’s biggest win streak of 38 games … last loss was in ’20 sectional game against Covenant Christian … traditional high-powered offense has put up massive 43.5ppg, defense has never given up more than two TDs in any game … Saints ran over all Indiana Crossroads foes for fifth straight campaign … Lutheran is led by junior quarterback Jackson Willis (1,634 yards passing, 24 TDs) and senior running back Brayden Hall (1,209 yards, 8.8 yards per carry, 17 TDs) … Saints average 409.2 yards total offense per game … interesting Sectional 47 draw with bye with potential for all road games … bye allows dinged-up Saints to get healthy and even more dangerous … face North Central (2-7) or South Putnam (8-1, 48.1ppg offense, 12.4ppg defense) winner on road Oct. 27.
CHRISTEL HOUSE MANUAL (3-5) – Winless in four Greater Indianapolis league games … closed with impressive 68-0 triumph against Irvington Prep … gave up 168 points in five losses … Eagles going for first-ever sectional win Friday at Ray Schultz Field against Eastern (3-6).
BEECH GROVE (4-5) – Roller-coaster campaign for coach Brandon Winters’ Hornets … good production on offense (24.2 points per game); defense allowed 31.4ppg … finished with narrow 28-27 win on road against Franklin County, winning four of last seven games … overcame two opening losses by combined 85-13 margin … quality wins at home against Speedway and 6A Southport … offense relies on junior running back Jeremiah Lee (1,210 yards rushing, 6.7 yards per carry, 16 TDs) … open Sectional 22 at Muncie Central (4-5) Friday with Bearcats riding four-game winning streak, outscoring foes 169-75.
GREENWOOD (4-5) – Woodmen opened 3-0 with new coach Justin Boser and air attack with senior quarterback Brook Riddle (2,063 yards, 26 TDs)… fell at home to neighboring rival Whiteland, 28-24 Friday … stinging loss as Woodmen lost fumble on 3-yard line with 20 seconds left in Mid-State duel … Riddle threw for 246 yards against Warriors … four wins exceed three combined wins of past two campaigns … potent offense average 34.3ppg; defense gave up 41.9ppg, including 63 points against Decatur Central and 59 points against Mooresville … Woodmen average 395.5 yards total offense per game … only one win in last five games … Woodmen expect to rebound at Connersville (2-7) Friday in Sectional 23 opener … Spartans in throes of six straight losses, giving up 47.3ppg in current skid.
RONCALLI (3-6) – Royals in clutches of four-game losing streak for first time since 2019 … Roncalli was just one win away from return trip to Lucas Oil Stadium last year … graduation losses left big holes … started 3-2 but then defense allowed 41.2ppg in last four games while offense was shut out twice … fell to 4A No. 1 East Central 41-7 Friday; Royals gave up 415 yards total offense against Trojans … wins came against Southport, Columbus North, and Guerin Catholic … big break for Royals in Sectional 21 draw, face visiting Shortridge (3-5) Friday with Northview-Brebeuf Jesuit winner emerging as favorite … Royals string of four straight sectional titles in danger.
Roncalli Royals (3-6) are ready for sectionals Friday against Shortridge (3-5).
(PHOTO BY JOHN SMITH)
DECATUR CENTRAL (7-2) – After winning only four games in 2022, Hawks came back solid with seven wins, riding five-game win streak … defeated Franklin 36-0 Friday at home Dever Fair Stadium for three-way share of Mid-State title … Against Grizzly Cubs, Hawks’ junior Ashton Vogel kicked program record 51-yard field goal, soph Bo Polston and junior N’Po Dodo combined for two aerial TDs, and senior KC Berry scampered for two rushing TDs … prolific offense averaging 33.2ppg during win streak … Hawks meet high-powered McCutcheon (6-3) on road (Mid-State vs. North Central Conference) in Sectional 13 opener Oct. 27, Mavericks riding impressive five-game win streak.
Decatur Central players and coaches celebrate winning a share of the Mid-State Conference championship by defeating Franklin 29-0 Friday.
(PHOTO COURTESY OF MAX GOODIN)
Whiteland MLB Jordan Palmer tackles from behind Greenwood WR Will Riley.
(PHOTO BY DOUG.CLEMENTS@PROMOTIONPHOTOS.COM)
CENTER GROVE (8-1) – Had share of close games but always prevailed after opening loss against St. Edward (Ohio) in Canton … closed with exciting hard-fought 45-38 win against Cathedral at Butler Bowl … lethal combo of quarterback Tyler Cherry and receiver Noah Coy combined for three TDs and 191 yards of massive 340-yard aerial attack against Irish … CG led 45-24 before Irish surge … Cherry (1,775 yards passing, 18 TDs) and Coy (827 yards, 10 TDs) … CG opens bid for fourth straight 6A state title at home against vastly improved and dangerous Franklin Central Oct. 27.
FRANKLIN CENTRAL (4-5) – Enjoyed 4-2 record before falling to three consecutive top-10 ranked Hoosier Crossroads teams … fourth straight season to go 0-3 against top half of HCC … bowed to visiting 6A No. 6 Westfield 28-19 Friday … Flashes led 12-7 at half, gave up 281 yards passing …FC’s Neven Tutterow threw for 181 yards and two TDs but three interceptions … at 4-5, Flashes vastly improved over ’22 … interesting Sectional 8 opener Oct. 27 at Center Grove … Flashes led Trojans last year going into fourth quarter before falling to eventual state champs, 14-10.
(PHOTO BY CARTER’S FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY)
SOUTHPORT (1-8) – Snapped 28-game losing skid Sept. 29 with dominating 43-7 homecoming triumph against Terre Haute North … defense allowed porous 42.1ppg in other eight games … Cards fell 42-14 Friday at undefeated Bloomington North, coached by Greenwood native Scott Bless … dealt blow in second game when senior quarterback Bryce Calvert suffered season-ending injury … Cards visit winless Tech (0-9) in playoff opener Oct. 27 with hopes of snapping string of three straight sectional losses … winner would face Perry Meridian (2-7)-Warren Central (3-6) winner next.
WEEK 9 RESULTS
Beech Grove 28, Franklin County 27
Bloomington North 42, Southport 14
Center Grove 45, Cathedral 38
Christel House Manual 68, Irvington Prep 0
Decatur Central 36, Franklin 0
East Central 41, Roncalli 7
Mooresville 24, Perry Meridian 14
Westfield 28, Franklin Central 19
Whiteland 28, Greenwood 24
White Pigeon (Mich.) 72, Greenwood Christian 0
(Friday 7 p.m., unless noted)
Beech Grove at Muncie Central
Eastern at Christel House Manual
Shortridge at Roncalli