Football: Difficult matchups highlight IHSAA sectional draw
By Mike Hutton 613-0141 or firstname.lastname@example.org October 13, 2013 11:02PM
East Chicago's Keithan Clevland makes the catch over Morton"s DaMario Johnson in the first quarter during their game held at East Chicago Central High School on Friday September 27, 2013. | Charles Mitchell/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 15, 2013 6:29AM
There were draw parties and coaches meetings centered around Sunday’s sectional football pairings. Some players were intently watching the live feed of the Indiana High School Athletic Association pairings.
The buzz for the evening — or lack of it — was totally dependent on the approach.
Then there was Lake Central coach Brett St. Germain, who was unmoved by the news that the Indians were going to play Crown Point in the opening round of Sectional 2. St. Germain was busy tending to some family stuff while getting ready for the Indians next opponent, Valparaiso. St. Germain doesn’t get overly worked up about the pairings.
“You really have no control over your fate,” he said. “We have to play who we play and be ready to play.”
The Indians shut out CP earlier this year, but the Bulldogs have won three straight. Merrillville, the team with the highest Sagarin rating in the sectional (the Sagarin is the most reliable predictor of playoff success) got the best draw. They play Lafayette Jefferson (1-7), the smallest school in 6A.
The most interesting region sectional is Sectional 17. That 4A sectional features East Chicago at Morton, and Lowell at West Side in opposing brackets.
Morton pulled away from EC earlier this year in the fourth quarter in a 19-6 victory.
“It’s a great draw for us,” Morton coach Roydon Richards said. “Obviously, they are a good team, but we’re set up to be at home. We have a good picture of what we need to do. We have played everyone.”
West Side and Lowell have never faced since West Side started playing football in 1968.
Lowell coach Keith Kilmer was excited about the matchup. The typical, plodding, power-I formation Red Devils play exactly the opposite style of the high flying Cougars. West Side will spread the ball out and get it into the hands of their Division-I athletes Lonnie Johnson and Jon Vea’ Johnson as much as possible.
“They have some athletes,” Kilmer said. “We are going to have to go out and play.”
The common denominator for the two teams was Morton. Lowell lost to the Governors 14-7 while the Cougars lost 63-56.
West Side coach Jason Johnson really believes in his team.
“They lost to Morton and we feel like we should’ve beat Morton if it weren’t for the refs,” Johnson said. “We feel like we have a decent shot.”
In Sectional 1, Portage drew the toughest opponent of all. The Indians face Penn, a team that is ranked No. 1 in both the Associated Press and coaches polls. The Kingsmen have only given up three touchdowns all year. Valparaiso travels to Chesterton for a rematch in the other contest.
Sectional 18 features two tough matchups for local opponents.
Kankakee Valley plays New Prairie (8-0), a team led by former Griffith coach Russ Radtke, while Hobart takes on South Bend St. Joseph’s (5-3), which has played an extremely difficult schedule with a win over Chesterton in the first game of the year.
KV coach Brad Stewart said there won’t be many surprises with New Prairie. Stewart was the defensive coordinator for Lowell under Kirk Kennedy when they played Griffith every year.
“I know his offense and he knows my defense,” Stewart said.
In Class 3A, Andrean plays at home against Knox in the first round. The 59ers are heavy favorites to win Sectional 25.
Rensselaer, the favorite in Sectional 33, plays Bishop Noll at home in the opener.