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The Indiana Football Digest's Top Games - 2017 Sectional Finals

By Paul Condry and Matt Kopsea




KICKOFF: 7 p.m. EDT, Greyhound Stadium.

COACHES: Pat Shanley, 16-4 in second season at Lafayette Jeff. John Hebert, 26-11 in third season at Carmel.

LAST CONTEST: Lafayette Jeff beat Westfield, 27-24. Carmel beat Noblesville, 25-7.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Carmel, 44-21, on October 31, 2008 in Class 5A sectional semifinal.

UP NEXT: Lafayette Jeff will host Fort Wayne Snider (10-0) or travels to Carroll (Fort Wayne) (7-3) for regional. Carmel plays at Snider or Carroll.

DID YOU KNOW: Lafayette Jeff has not celebrated a sectional crown since 2002, while Carmel is going for its fifth straight title.

COACH TALK: "For us to have success against Carmel, we are going to have to make sure that we are sound on special teams. We cannot give up a big play in this phase of the game. How well will we handle their physicality is another factor. They are a MIC (Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference) team with an incredible amount of size, speed, and depth. Their offense wants to run the ball and hit you with timely passes. We must stop the run and get off the field on third down. Their defense is extremely talented. They are very good against the run and try to keep everything in front of them in the passing game. They are extremely hard to prepare for. The key is can we generate enough points to win?" – Lafayette Jeff's Pat Shanley.

"Lafayette Jeff is a team that plays with great energy and focus. Coach Shanley has done an outstanding job building his program. They really appear to love to play the game and to compete. They are very athletic and efficient on offense and swarming on defense. We'll need to be really solid in all three phases of the game, especially special teams. Their big play capabilities on both sides of the ball have overwhelmed opponents. We pride ourselves on being a very physical football team which we'll need to be in order to beat them. We hope that the ups and downs of our season have prepared us to be playing our best football at this point. I know everyone in our building is really excited about competing for a sectional championship on Friday." – Carmel's John Hebert.


KICKOFF: 7 p.m. EDT, Giants Stadium.

COACHES: Jayson West, 45-15 in fifth season at Warren Central, 97-27 in 10th season overall. Mike Kirschner, 91-36 in 11th season at Ben Davis, 105-62 in 15th season overall.

LAST CONTEST: Warren Central beat Lawrence North, 41-16. Ben Davis beat Lawrence Central, 33-20.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Ben Davis, 45-16, on September 15, 2017.

UP NEXT: Warren Central entertains Fishers (6-4) or goes to Pike (6-4) for regional. Ben Davis travels to Fishers or Pike.

DID YOU KNOW: Warren Central has won four straight sectional titles, while Ben Davis is going after its second in a row.

COACH TALK: "This will be a tremendous challenge. We cannot let them run the ball on us like they did last time and we cannot let (quarterback) Reese (Taylor) evade us and create plays. We must be very clean on special teams and be better in the red zone if we have a chance to upset them." – Warren Central's Jayson West.

"We must cut down on the penalties that hurt us this past Friday, protect the football and take advantage of field position, and win the battle on special teams." – Ben Davis' Mike Kirschner.


KICKOFF: 7 p.m. EDT, Center Grove Field.

COACHES: Tim Bless, 122-80 in 18th season at Columbus North, 134-89 in 20th season overall. Eric Moore, 178-61 in 19th season at Center Grove, 226-66 in 23rd season overall.

LAST CONTEST: Columbus North beat Jeffersonville, 56-14. Center Grove beat Franklin Central, 35-3.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Center Grove, 41-14, on November 4, 2016 in Class 6A sectional final.

UP NEXT: Columbus North hosts Avon (8-2) or goes to Brownsburg (8-2) for regional. Center Grove plays at Avon or Brownsburg.

DID YOU KNOW: Columbus North's last sectional title came in 2007, while Center Grove is trying for its seventh consecutive crown.

COACH TALK: "Coach Moore and his staff at Center Grove do an outstanding job of taking great kids and building disciplined, fundamental, and physical teams. Simply put, to be successful Friday night at Center Grove, we must be more disciplined, fundamental, and physical than the Trojans for 48 minutes of football." – Columbus North's Tim Bless.

"This marks the 11th straight week that we will play a ranked team. It seems to get harder and harder for the Trojans to get back to the finals. Columbus North will come into town with a trio of great offensive skill players and as always a very physical offensive line. Their quarterback (Trenton Kelley) is as good as advertised and their running back (Cortez) Bandy is one of the finest in the state. Just like their offense, their defense is very physical and talented as well and has great speed this season.  Bringing a record of 9-1 is quite impressive. They have beat some really good teams and have a great tradition. In order for the CG Trojans to have success, we will have to play a no turnover game and yet create turnovers while playing defense. Hopefully, we can flip the field on special teams and create some great plays. The defense will have to stop the run as well as control the excellent passing game for the Trojans to even stay close in this game." – Center Grove's Eric Moore.



KICKOFF: 7 p.m. EDT, Arlington Field.

COACHES: Kyle Enright, 17-4 in second season at Decatur Central. Rick Streiff, 219-76 in 23rd season at Indianapolis Cathedral, 240-108 in 28th season overall.

LAST CONTEST: Decatur Central beat Indianapolis Tech, 47-8. Indianapolis Cathedral beat Indianapolis Roncalli, 28-23.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Indianapolis Cathedral, 59-14, on November 7, 2014 in Class 5A sectional final.

UP NEXT: Decatur Central goes to Bloomington South (6-5) or hosts Martinsville (6-4) in regional. Cathedral travels to Bloomington South or Martinsville.

DID YOU KNOW: Decatur Central's lone sectional championship came in 2005, while Cathedral has captured 11 straight titles.

COACH TALK: "Cathedral is a premier program in the state of Indiana. Having won eight state championships in the last 13 years, the Irish bring a wealth of big game experience and tradition into battle with them every game. They have played some of the top programs in the Midwest this season and are battle tested. There are three keys to victory for us. Winning the turnover battle will be a big factor in the game. Creating turnovers defensively and protecting the football offensively will be big factors in determining the Hawks' success. Special teams play and field position will be a big factor in the game. We must limit mistakes and opponents big plays and create some big plays of our own on special teams in order to have success. Playing a complete four quarter game will be a big factor. Staying poised and not getting too high or too low through the course of the game will put the Hawks in position to compete and win when the game is on the line in the fourth quarter." – Decatur Central's Kyle Enright.

"We must contain their big plays, take care of the ball, control the line of scrimmage, and win the special teams' battle. It's pretty much the same as every week, but they have some really explosive players as you know we will have to contend with."  - Cathedral's Rick Streiff.


GRIFFITH (10-1) AT LOWELL (11-0)

KICKOFF: 7 p.m. CDT, The Inferno.

COACHES: Ben Geffert, 22-12 in third season at Griffith. Keith Kilmer, 62-29 in eighth season at Lowell.

LAST CONTEST: Griffith beat Hammond Morton, 35-21. Lowell beat Highland, 35-0.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Griffith, 17-9, on September 9, 2016.

UP NEXT: Griffith entertains New Prairie (10-1) or South Bend Saint Joseph (5-6) in regional. Lowell hosts New Prairie or travels to Saint Joseph.

DID YOU KNOW: Griffith has not claimed a sectional title since 2008, while Lowell is in pursuit of its fourth in a row,

COACH TALK: "I believe we have to play as close to perfect as possible. No turnovers, penalties, missed assignments. The Red Devils have done an extremely good job taking advantage of their opponents mistakes. These are two teams that are playing at a high level right now. It is going to be a four quarter battle that when the final horn blows the team that has made the least amount of mistakes and stayed focused through adversity will walk away a champion." – Griffith's Ben Geffert.

"We are excited to continue one of the longest continuous rivalries in the state with a very good Griffith Panther football team. Both teams have a great defense with great athletes all over the field. We are going to have to limit mistakes and play great team football in all phases of the game. We are going to be faced with some adversity throughout the night, so how we respond to that adversity will determine the outcome of the game." – Lowell's Keith Kilmer.


KICKOFF: 7:30 p.m. EDT, Oliver Field.

COACHES: Andy Thomas, 25-16 in fourth season at Angola, 115-83 in 18th season overall. Andy Dorrel, 119-99 in 20th season at Culver Academy.

LAST CONTEST: Angola beat NorthWood, 28-21, overtime. Culver Academy beat East Noble, 33-28.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Angola, 53-21, on October 20, 1992 in Class 3A sectional semifinal.

UP NEXT: Angola host Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger (8-3) or Fort Wayne Wayne (5-6) in regional. Culver Academy welcomes Bishop Dwenger or goes to F.W. Wayne.

DID YOU KNOW: Angola's last sectional title was in 1992, while Culver Academy last won one in 2015.

COACH TALK: "We have to sustain drives on offense and create some turnovers on defense. We cannot turn the ball over." – Angola's Andy Thomas.

"Angola is an extremely disciplined football team which plays fast and physical. Their come-from-behind win (NorthWood) in the sectional semifinal illustrates the type of fortitude and character that great teams possess. In order for CMA to earn their first Class 4A sectional championship, we will need to match Angola's intensity and minimize execution mistakes. As all games in November are determined, it will come down to which team can control the line of scrimmage, pressure the opponents option offense, as well as kick and catch the football well.  Both CMA and Angola appear to be playing their best football of the season and that is all you can expect from a team vying for a trophy." – Culver Academy's Andy Dorrel.


KICKOFF: 7 p.m. EDT, Trojan Field.

COACHES: John Dablow, 20-12 in third season at Silver Creek, 37-56 in ninth season overall. Justin Roden, 43-20 in fifth season at East Central.

LAST CONTEST: Silver Creek beat Franklin County, 7-6. East Central beat South Dearborn, 51-0.


UP NEXT: Silver Creek hosts Evansville Central (10-1) or Evansville Bosse (3-8) in regional. East Central goes to Bosse or entertains Central.

DID YOU KNOW: Silver Creek is looking for its first sectional championship, while East Central has won two consecutive titles.

COACH TALK: "East Central is a great football team and program. In order for us to be successful, we will need to get first downs on offense, make them earn every yard on defense, and keep it close to give ourselves a chance in the fourth quarter. Obviously, in games like these, turnovers and penalties will also be key, so we must hold on to the ball and play smart football." – Silver Creek's John Dablow.

"John Dablow at Silver Creek has done a fantastic job this season and his team is firing on all cylinders.  To shut down (Franklin Central running back) Mitchell Orschell last week really shows their athleticism and ability to get to the ball and tackle. Silver Creek is currently third defensively in all of Indiana, giving up on 6.11 points per game and that is all conferences. They also boast five shutouts, so we are going to have to have a perfect night execution wise in order to put points on the board. On defensive Josh Anderson (No. 28), Peyton Meyers (No. 45), and No. 22 Bennet Beyl, who is 6-foot-5, are defensive standouts. On offensive, they run a split-back jet series that is also impressive. Jacob Garrett, Brannon Russell, and quarterback Josh Landers lead the offensive assault. They don't turn the ball over often and aren't afraid to play smash-mouth football. They also use Beyl to play wide out and he is immensely tough to defend because of his height and athleticism. I do believe we have a slight advantage in the kicking game and the luxury of playing at home. However, I expect the game to be very close and decided by a turnover. It is critical for us to be disciplined and read our keys. In addition, we need our offense to play physical and match Silver Creek's tenacity up front. It really should be a special game and one I know our community is looking forward to." – East Central's Justin Roden.



KICKOFF: 7 p.m. EDT, North Central High School.

COACHES: Ty Hunt, 126-32 in 12th season at Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter. Rob Doyle, 6-5 in first season at Indianapolis Bishop Chatard.

LAST CONTEST: Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter beat Indian Creek, 41-22. Indianapolis Bishop Chatard beat Indianapolis Broad Ripple, 48-0.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Indianapolis Bishop Chatard, 45-6, on September 16, 2016.

UP NEXT: Cardinal Ritter hosts Danville (11-0) or travels to Greencastle (7-4) for regional. Bishop Chatard plays at Danville or Greencastle.

DID YOU KNOW: Cardinal Ritter is going for its sectional straight sectional crown, while Bishop Chatard's last title came in 2015.

COACH TALK: "We have to be willing to work as hard as a possible in our preparation. We must tighten every lace and every strap for a hard physical game." – Cardinal Ritter's Ty Hunt.

"Ritter has an experienced and explosive team, so we will have to do our best to contain players like quarterback Diomoni Small and tight end Henry Woodcock. They do a good job spreading the ball around and Small creates a lot of opportunities with his feet. We cannot give up the big plays. Offensively, we need to control the clock and maintain possession of the ball and keep their offense off the field." – Bishop Chatard's Rob Doyle.


KICKOFF: 7:30 p.m. EDT, North Harrison Field.

COACHES: Ryan Knigga, 60-22 in seventh season at Lawrenceburg. Mark Williamson, 39-25 in sixth season at North Harrison, 55-43 in ninth season overall.

LAST CONTEST: Lawrenceburg beat Greensburg, 43-14. North Harrison beat Batesville, 20-19.


UP NEXT: Lawrenceburg hosts Gibson Southern (11-0) or travels to Evansville Memorial for regional. North Harrison goes to Memorial or Gibson Southern.

DID YOU KNOW: Lawrenceburg is trying for back-to-back sectional titles, while North Harrison is going for its first championship.

COACH TALK: "This will be one of the best games in the state on Friday. You have two top 10 ranked teams going head to head and both love to play smash mouth football. There is no secret we must stop their run game. They have a big offensive line and good backs. They want to pound the ball. We must make them throw the football. We must have a fast start and put points on the board every possession. North Harrison likes to limit the possessions, so we must make each one count. Rain is in the forecast, so taking care of the ball and limiting turnovers will be critical." – Lawrenceburg's Ryan Knigga.  

"We must have a mistake-free game in all phases to have a chance to win this sectional. We are playing our best football at this time and our players do not want this season to end." – North Harrison's Mark Williamson.


KICKOFF: 7 p.m. CDT, Jewell Field.

COACHES: John Hurley, 69-53 in 10th season at Evansville Memorial. Nick Hart, 67-8 in sixth season at Gibson Southern.

LAST CONTEST: Evansville Memorial beat Washington, 49-15. Gibson Southern beat Vincennes Lincoln, 39-28.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Evansville Memorial, 29-20, on October 21, 2016 in Class 3A sectional opener.

UP NEXT: Memorial welcomes Lawrenceburg (10-1) or North Harrison (11-0) for regional. Gibson Southern travels to Lawrenceburg or entertains North Harrison.

DID YOU KNOW: Evansville Memorial is trying for its second consecutive sectional title, while Gibson Southern earned its last crown in 2015.

COACH TALK: "Going to Gibson Southern will be a tremendous challenge. They have enormous community support. Coach Hart has done a great job building a winning program. They play fast tempo offense and physical defense. We will have to play a flawless game to have success Friday night." – Evansville Memorial's John Hurley.

"Memorial is an excellent football team and will be our biggest challenge of the season. They are very well-coached and have excellent football players. They are very good up front on both sides of the ball.  They have a lot of weapons on offense and get the ball to them in a variety of ways. In order to win on Friday night, we are going to have to play a complete game in all three phases of the game." – Gibson Southern's Nick Hart. 



KICKOFF: 6:30 p.m. CDT, Reitz Bowl.

COACHES: Scott Buening, 44-15 in fifth season at Southridge, 56-43 in ninth season overall. Mike Goebel, 211-61 in 21st season at Evansville Mater Dei.

LAST CONTEST: Southridge beat Linton-Stockton, 20-0. Evansville Mater Dei beat Forest Park, 55-14.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Evansville Mater Dei, 35-7, on October 31, 2014 in Class 2A sectional semifinal.

UP NEXT: Southridge hosts Providence (6-5) or goes to Paoli (9-2) for regional. Mater Dei travels to Providence or Paoli.

DID YOU KNOW: Southridge's last sectional championship took place in 2013, while Mater Dei is going for its fourth in a row.

COACH TALK: "Mater Dei has had great success as a program, especially in the tournament. They are extremely well-coached and they do a lot of things well. Defensively, we will need to be able to match all their formations which they can run and pass equally well out of all of them. They have an efficient quarterback and a good receiver core to go along with one of the better running backs (Chase Rhinelander) in our area who runs hard and is fast. They are very aggressive defensively, so we will need to be able to handle all the different stunts they will run. They have scored a lot of points against some good defenses this year and have played tremendous competition for a 2A school, so they are very well tested." – Southridge's Scott Buening.



KICKOFF: 7 p.m. EDT, Minnich Field.

COACHES: Dave Snyder, 45-34 in seventh season at Southwood. Michael Mosser, 67-38 in ninth season at Adams Central.

LAST CONTEST: Southwood beat Eastside, 51-19. Adams Central beat Churubusco, 17-14.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Adams Central, 23-7, on November 11, 2016 in Class 1A regional.

UP NEXT: Southwood hosts Sheridan (9-2) or goes to Monroe Central (10-1) for regional. Adams Central travels to Sheridan or Monroe Central.

DID YOU KNOW: Southwood is trying to make it two straight sectional crowns, while Adams Central is going for its third consecutive title.

COACH TALK: "Our first and foremost concern is defending an outstanding run game. They feature a big fullback they like to run belly and quick trap with. The other backs are used to run the toss and counter plays. They have nice size up front and a solid play action pass game. They have multiple fronts on defense and blitz from different spots. We have to move our receivers to help find and create favorable matchups, pass protect, and pickup blitz. We are thin in numbers and have to be healthy coming in and stay healthy throughout the game. Our kids have responded well all year in big games and look forward to another big challenge. – Southwood's Dave Snyder.

"Southwood is a very, very good team. They have I believe one of the best quarterbacks in the state with Carson Blair. We are going to have to prevent him and their team from scoring at will. It is a big challenge to our defense, both our up front guys as well as our secondary. Our offense must drain clock and score points. We must stop them more than they stop us. If we don't, we will lose this game." – Adams Central's Michael Mosser. 


KICKOFF: 7 p.m. EDT, Blackhawk Field.

COACHES: John Hochstetler, 44-23 in sixth season at Monroe Central, 131-106 in 21st season overall. Larry Wright, 409-188 in 52nd season at Sheridan, 410-191 in 53rd season overall.

LAST CONTEST: Monroe Central beat Clinton Prairie, 42-12. Sheridan beat Wes-Del, 35-8.


UP NEXT: Monroe Central entertains Southwood (10-1) or Adams Central (9-2) in regional. Sheridan goes to Southwood or hosts Adams Central.

DID YOU KNOW: Monroe Central has never experienced a sectional championship before, while Sheridan's last title came in 2012.

COACH TALK: "Obviously Sheridan has tradition, great coaching, and a really good team. It should be an exciting atmosphere. The key in all ball games will be valuing offensive possessions. Turnovers and timely play will be very important. It should be exciting., Special teams play will have major impact in determining the outcome." Monroe Central's John Hochstetler.

"In order for Sheridan to beat Monroe, we must stop their offense. They are a very good team at both rushing the football and also passing the ball. They have passed for over 2000 yards with a very good rushing attack. They have excellent skilled people both rushing and receiving, so we must be able to stop the long ball. This is their life line and their receivers have great speed. If we stop this, we must also be able to stop the run. We must be able to match their skilled players with our skilled players. If we match up, we should be able to have success." – Sheridan's Larry "Bud" Wright.


KICKOFF: 7:30 p.m. EDT, Indianapolis Lutheran Field.

COACHES: Scott Snodgrass, 42-32 in seventh season at Hagerstown, 51-92 in 14th season overall. Dave Pasch, 74-45 in 10th season at Indianapolis Lutheran, 139-102 in 21st season overall.

LAST CONTEST: Hagerstown beat Tri, 33-14. Indianapolis Lutheran beat South Decatur, 55-12.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Indianapolis Lutheran, 48-27, on November 4, 2016 in Class 1A sectional final.

UP NEXT: Hagerstown hosts Indianapolis Arlington (8-2) or South Putnam (3-8) in regional. Lutheran plays at Arlington or entertains South Putnam.

DID YOU KNOW: Hagerstown has not captured a sectional title since 2010, while Lutheran is trying for a fourth consecutive championship.

COACH TALK: "In order for us to have success against Lutheran, we will need to continue to have a 'next play' mentality. They are explosive and can score at any time, so we will have to make very few mistakes, pursue to the football, and make solid tackles in space. I am positive that fundamentals and consistent, mistake-free play will be the determining factor in our game." – Hagerstown's Scott Snodgrass.

"This will be a great game between two very good football teams. Hagerstown returns a ton of experience on both sides of the football from last year's team. To beat well-seasoned teams in big games, teams must play first with composure and poise, then execute. Field position will be critical, and that is often dictated by turnovers and special teams play. For Lutheran to win, we must play a complete game of complimentary football." – Lutheran's Dave Pasch.


KICKOFF: 7 p.m. EDT, Thunderbird Field.

COACHES: Joey Paridaen, 31-14 in fourth season at Eastern Greene, 33-32 in sixth season overall. Travis Nolting, 51-25 in seventh season at North Central (Farmersburg).

LAST CONTEST: Eastern Greene beat West Washington, 41-0. North Central (Farmersburg) beat Tecumseh, 34-20.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Eastern Greene, 22-14, on October 13, 2017.

UP NEXT: Eastern Greene hosts Attica (9-2) or Fountain Central (10-1) in regional. North Central entertains Attica or goes to Fountain Central.

DID YOU KNOW: Eastern Greene's only sectional title came in 2016, while North Central is trying for its first championship.

COACH TALK: "We know that North Central will try and shorten the game with their offense and limit the number of our offensive possessions. Our defense must continue to play well and get their offense off the field. Offensively, we must take care of the football and limit mistakes so that our offense can execute at its optimum level. The winner of this game will ultimately come down to whichever team can run the ball most effectively." – Eastern Greene's Joey Paridaen.

"We must play 48 minutes of smash mouth football in all three phases of the game (offense, defense, and special teams). We are certainly capable of defeating them and our kids are motivated. No football team in Sullivan County history has ever won a sectional championship, so our kids are motivated to be the first one." – North Central's Travis Nolting.

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