Opening round of tournament features two games at Perry Township
Senior staff writer
First-year and veteran coaches look at the state football playoffs with the same outlook.
Center Grove veteran mentor Eric Moore, who guided the Trojans to the 2008 5A championship, said, “It’s all about the playoffs now.”
First-year Franklin Central coach Grant Lewis contended, “The great thing about Indiana football is that everybody gets to go to sectionals; we’re all 0-0.”
For three straight years, Center Grove has made it to the semistate round, only to fall one win short of reaching the state finals at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Undefeated and ranked No. 1 in Class 6A, the Trojans are the target in the playoffs. They are in one of the most intriguing first-round matchups as they meet No. 10 Columbus North.
Perry Stadium is home to two 6A sectional games with underdog Perry Meridian hosting No. 6 Warren Central at 7 p.m. Friday; reigning sectional champion Southport takes on upstart Franklin Central at 7 p.m. Saturday.
In Class 4A, Greenwood puts its ground game against Beech Grove’s aerial show in a Southside duel Friday on the Hornets’ field.
Lutheran meets Knightstown for a Class A showdown between two top 10 teams.
Seven of nine Southside teams posted winning records during the nine-game regular season.
Here’s the outlook for Southside teams:
Center Grove (9-0) – First unbeaten season under 17th-year Moore … defeated 6A No. 3 Cathedral 7-0 Friday … game-winning touchdown on Jackson Hohlt’s 50-yard run … Trojans can grind it out or score big … average 33.2 points per game and 335 yards on ground … led by junior running back Titus McCoy, 1,227 yards, 16 TDs … Vanderbilt recruit Jason Swann, five sacks, and classmate Jackson Sodrel have 43 tackles each … defense held five foes to two TDs or less … seek 11th sectional crown … one win away from Lucas Oil for past three playoffs … CG will defeat Columbus North to keep its winning streak alive.
Franklin Central (3-6) – First-year coach Grant Lewis has Flashes on three-game winning streak … defeated Terre Haute North 48-30 on Friday … ground game dominated THN with Kain Idele going for three TDs, 250 yards and soph Jaylen Brown three TDs, 102 yards … senior quarterback Cody Jacob has thrown for 1,284 yards, 12 TDs this season … offense has put up 111 points in past three games … junior Chris Ford has 83 tackles, senior Carlos Miller 62, junior Dontez Hines 61 … defense had eight sacks Friday … rematch with Southport in sectional at 7 p.m. Saturday … Cardinals won 34-21 Sept. 25 ... but look for an even closer game.
Perry Meridian (5-4) – Won five games for third time in past four seasons … dropped finale at Bloomington South 44-7 … running game averages 200-plus yards … senior QB Matt McCloskey leading rusher, 763 yards, backed by senior Jordan Marion, 1,048 all-purpose yards … McCloskey has thrown 831 yards, nine TDs … senior Brett Johnson leads defense with 106 tackles … long sectional title drought since 1986 … eight-time state champion Warren Central (6-3) will knock underdog and undersized Falcons out of tournament.
Southport (7-2) – Four straight wins going into playoffs, 180 points in those victories … 6A No. 14 Cardinals are 27-6 in last three years after rebuilding under coach Bill Peebles … Cardinals offense is clicking … all-time SHS passing leader Luke Johnston threw six TDs Friday against Columbus North in 49-41 shootout … Johnston has single-season record 34 TDs … has thrown for 2,530 yards with 69.5 completion percentage … receiving corps led by Blake Evans, 1,163 yards, Evan Higgs, 542 yards, and basketball standout Paul Scruggs, 454 yards … Andrew Mappes leading rusher, 788 yards, seven TDs … Jalen Williams leads with 104 tackles … seek third consecutive sectional title … Cardinals have won five in row over Flashes, including 34-21 win Sept. 25.
Beech Grove (6-3) – Share first Indiana Crossroads Conference title with Monrovia … most regular-season wins since 2000 … led 19-0 Friday against Mooresville but lost 41-37 on fourth-quarter TD … offense led by three juniors … QB Chase Andries threw three TDs and 350 yards against Pioneers … Andries has thrown for 2,238 yards and 21 TDs this season; named All-USA Indiana Athlete of the Week after defeating Triton Central for ICC crown … Walter Ballinger leads ground game, 534 yards, 5.7 yards per carry … Montrez Hearon top receiver, 21.0 yards per catch … improved defense led by underclassmen Nate Sanchez and Isaiah Hulse, 63 tackles each … coach Mark Weller 19-13 since going 1-19 first two years at BG … sectional runner-up to New Palestine last year … will prevail over Greenwood.
Greenwood (5-4) – Woodmen finished third in Mid-State … fell Friday to Whiteland 19-14 in bid to force three-way league tie … soph QB Seth Gallman threw for two TDs, 182 yards against Warriors … Woodmen rely on ground game, senior John Gallman, 4.4 yards per carry … lost three of last four games this season … won opening sectional game seven of past eight years … last sectional title in 2005.
Roncalli (5-4) – 4A No. 11 Rebels jelling just in time … won four of last five games … defeated East Central 31-10 Friday … Nate Fries scored two TDs, QB Robbie Strader passed for a score … held 4A No. 7 East Central (7-2) to under 100 yards rushing and 100 yards passing … second straight win over ranked opponent … RHS all-time 34-13 on senior nights … Strader owns school record 85-yard TD pass against Decatur Central … outscored last three foes 97-34 … fifth straight winning season … Frankfort (4-5) visits Friday at 7 p.m. in 4A sectional opener … Roncalli rolls on.
Manual (3-6) – Three wins under first-year coach Robert Orkman most since 2007 … snapped 20-game losing skid Sept. 4 by defeating Washington 50-0 … also downed Anderson Prep and Shortridge … freshman QB Deangelo Dean threw for 105 yards Friday against Lutheran … senior Titus Burch leads ground game, 4.3 yards per carry … senior Fabion Ricks leads with 429 all-purpose yards … defensive leaders are seniors Jalen Alexander, 54 tackles, and 385-pound senior Devashia Garrett, 42 tackles … 3A No. 9 Batesville visits for sectional opener Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Ray Schultz Field … Redskins could not have had worse draw.
Lutheran (5-4) – Warmed up for sectional by dominating Manual 49-6 … won five of last seven games … winning regular season record for sixth straight year … Class A No. 9 Saints’ offense features senior QB Jake Reid and running backs, sophomore Andre Jones and 260-pound junior Kyle Johnson who gained more than 100 yards against Scecina … Saints line features senior Dionte McFadden, juniors Mike McFadden and John Pasch and sophs Brett Prewitt, Mike Eakle and Emeka Jiliani … drive to Lucas Oil Stadium foiled by North Vermillion in semistate last year … Saints mix ground and air game up just enough to defeat Knightstown in 7 p.m. sectional opener.