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Timeout football: Football sectional championship preview

Crown Point's Tristan Peterson. | Scott R. Brandush~Sun-Times Media

Crown Point's Tristan Peterson. | Scott R. Brandush~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 3, 2012 6:48AM



Sectional 1

Crown Point (8-3) at Merrillville (9-2), 7 p.m.

Radio: 1370-AM, 1270-AM, 95.9-FM

The skinny: The last time these two teams met on Aug. 31 to start the Duneland Athletic Conference part of the season, the Pirates rolled to a 40-12 victory. But the more pertinent recent game between these two rivals happened a year ago this week when the Bulldogs pulled off the decisive upset 42-21 in the sectional final on the same Merrillville field which this week’s contest is taking place. You can be sure the Pirates remember that game all too well. The hero of CP’s victory last year was running back Tristan Peterson, who had 204 yards on the ground and four touchdowns. For Merrillville to prevent another upset, stopping Peterson is a primary goal. Pirates quarterback Jake Raspopovich will also need to stay on his current roll and forget last year’s debacle in which he was just 11-of-25 for 104 yards and four interceptions. Dylon Collins, who returned last week from a leg injury, had a big game for Merrillville last year against CP, as well as last week against Chesterton with an 80-yard TD catch and run.

Next: Winner of Sectional 2 final between Fort Wayne Carroll (8-3) and South Bend Adams (7-4)

Sectional 9

Highland (3-8)
at Morton (6-5), 7 p.m.

Radio: 1230-AM, 88.5-FM

The skinny: Highland pulled off another surprise last week, beating an athletic West Side team, to reach its first sectional final since 2004. It’s only the second sectional final for the Trojans in 18 years. But for first-year coach Trent Grider to lead Highland to its first sectional title in 25 years, the task will be handling an improved Morton squad that has turned around a season after a 2-4 start. One of those two wins early on was over Highland, 28-0. All of a sudden, behind a resurgent running game led by Kendall Huff and Eleazar Henderson, the Governors have won three straight while averaging just under 50 points scored. The Governors have won three straight sectional titles and won’t give up on No. 4 without a fight.

Next: Winner of Sectional 10 final between Mishawaka (8-3) and South Bend Washington (3-8)

Sectional 25

Rensselaer (6-5) at Andrean (9-2), 7 p.m.

Radio: None

The skinny: Believe it or not, this is the first time these programs are facing each other in football. They’ve been in the same sectional in other sports frequently in recent years despite realignment. To say the 59ers are on a roll this postseason is a huge understatement, scoring 125 points in two games against Wheeler and Boone Grove. In the 63-point effort at Wheeler, Andrean had five different players score touchdowns — Matt DeSomer and Trevor Berg each had three. Last week the TDs were spread out even more in the 62-point effort at home against the Wolves as nine different players scored. It might be more difficult against the Bombers, who, like Morton in Class 4A, have gotten hot at the right time with three straight wins after starting the season 2-4. Led by Hunter Hickman, Rensselaer has averaged 42 points in the last three games — victories over Benton Central, North Newton and Bowman Academy. The Bombers are looking to return to the top of the sectional heap after a year off — they won three straight titles from 2008 to 2010 — while Andrean has won four consecutive crowns before losing last season.

Next: Winner of Sectional 26 final between Lewis Cass (10-1) and North Judson (5-6)

Sectional 26

Lewis Cass (10-1) 
at North Judson (5-6), 6:30 p.m.

Radio: None

The skinny: Here’s another game between two teams that have never matched up before. Cass has been ranked near the top of the 2A coaches and Associated Press poll all season, so it’s no surprise it’s in the sectional final. But Judson has been a streaky squad that few thought would be here, looking for its first sectional title since 2004. The Bluejays won the first two games of the season before six straight losses. The current three-game winning streak is partly due to several injured players returning. Missing in action during the season included Erik Beckman, Michael Minix, Caleb Robbins, Evan Howard and Wes Derflinger. Howard and Minix scored touchdowns in Judson’s victory over Rochester last week. Beckman, Minix and Derflinger are all two-way players who left holes on both sides of the ball. Derflinger has still been out, but he could return against Cass, but it may not be enough against a squad that only lost once to Hamilton Heights, a 3A squad with just one loss itself.

Next: Winner of Sectional 25 final between Rensselaer (6-5) and Andrean (9-2)

— deputy sports editor Steve T. Gorches



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