October 24, 2013

Logan faces old NCC foe Frankfort to open sectional

Cass travels to No. 7 Tipton; Pioneer hosts Seeger.

By Beau Wicker and Josh Sigler

---- — Logansport’s football team is facing one of the original members of the North Central Conference tonight in Frankfort.

The Berries (3-6) are hosting the Hot Dogs (4-5) at 7 o’clock at Berry Stadium in a first-round game of Class 4A, Sectional 20.

It’s possibly the first meeting between the two schools in football since Frankfort left the NCC in 1967.Frankfort, with an enrollment of 859, competes in Class 3A in most class sports but moved up to Class 4A in football last year.

The teams have one common opponent this year in Twin Lakes. The Berries lost to the Indians 17-7 in Week 1 while the Hot Dogs lost to the Indians 24-21 in three overtimes in Week 2.

“They’re a pretty solid football team despite their record,” Logan coach Brad Urban said. “Their quarterback [Isaac Rudd] may be the best athlete we’ve seen all year at the position. He’s a big, strong runner who can throw the ball. It’s a real concern for our defense to contain him. Their numbers are down but they are a stout, strong football team. They have five or six players that play both ways so we’ll try to use that to our advantage. It’ll be a cold night and we have to be physical and try to wear them out. It’ll be important from everything I’ve seen from them.”

The Berries are healthier than they’ve been in about a month, Urban said. He said the only players that might start both ways in the game are Marcus Record and Austin Gaby. Deon Coburn will be back at offensive tackle for the first time since the Muncie Central game four weeks ago. Leading rusher Jacob Shelton (582 yards, 10 touchdowns) could also return for the first time in four games from a leg injury.

Urban is looking for a sharper effort from his squad than it had last week in a 28-14 loss at NCC champion Richmond.

“The guys are fired up,” he said. “We can’t turn the ball over five times like we did last week.“They run a wing-T offense. That’s something we’re not used to seeing in our division. Hopefully our defense makes the adjustment and we don’t give them any cheap points.”

Record has rushed for 463 yards and three touchdowns for the Berries. Quarterback Ryan Schrock adds 424 yards and 11 TDs on the ground and 336 yards and 4 TDs in the air. Isaac Eastburn has 342 yards from scrimmage and 4 TDs. Khalil Carter leads the defense with 43 solo tackles, 51 assists and 9 tackles for a loss. Kevin Gonzalez has four sacks. Jacob Brown has three interceptions and Caleb McLochlin has two

Rudd has passed for 776 yards and 15 TDs with just two interceptions for the Hot Dogs. Luis Medina is the leading rusher with 438 yards and 5 TDs.

Cass (5-4) at Tipton (6-3)

When Tipton quarterback Austin Hooker went down with a broken arm in Week 2, the Blue Devils had to adjust their season goals. Three straight losses to Rensselaer Central (9-7), West Lafayette (34-10) and Lafayette Central Catholic (14-7) left the team at 3-3.

Hooker returned in Week 7 and Tipton appears to be rolling again, having won three straight against Sheridan, Twin Lakes and Delphi. The Class 2A No. 7-ranked Devils didn’t expect to enter postseason play with three losses, but at the end of the day, a shot at a fourth straight sectional title still has a chance to become a reality with Hooker back under center.

“We have dealt with a lot of adversity this year but I’d like to think we’ve overcome it,” Tipton coach Aaron Tolle said. “When Austin got hurt we put a positive spin on it. We challenged ourselves to get better defensively, in the kicking game and on the offensive line. We felt like if we got better in those areas, once we got Austin back we’d be that much better. Some of that has happened, and some of those questions are yet to be answered. We’re staring two really tough teams in the face so those questions will get answered in the next couple weekends.”

Tipton hosts Cass tonight at 7 p.m. in the start of Sectional 35 play, a Kings’ squad Tolle and the Blue Devils know well. Cass is the last team to hand Tipton a sectional loss, topping the Devils 15-0 in a rainy, windy sectional semifinal contest in Walton in 2009. The Kings went on to claim the sectional crown.

“You don’t have to watch film to know that Cass is a team that’s extremely disciplined and well-coached,” Tolle said. “Coach [Scott] Mannering is one of the best coaches in the state, probably a hall of famer down the road. This is a huge challenge for us as a coaching staff. They’re one of those programs that regardless of the amount of talent, they will be extremely competitive and be winners and not beat themselves. You’re going to have to go out and beat them. We can’t afford to make mistakes and give them opportunities to win. It’s just a huge challenge.”

The Kings had a four-game winning streak snapped in a 23-8 loss at Western last week. The win gave the Panthers a share of the Mid-Indiana Conference crown.

“We played better in the second half of the season, and sometimes that’s hard to tell because our schedule is tough at the start of the year,” Mannering said. “I was really disappointed in the way we played against West Lafayette and Northwestern in particular. The Hamilton Heights game I thought we showed some improvement. We got beat by a good Western team last week. We were in the ball game and had opportunities, but they deserve to be conference champs. We’re above .500 right now and as good as we can be, and we hope that can carry us into [tonight].”

Leading Cass’ wing-T offense is Gabe Welch, who enters postseason play with 855 yards and nine touchdowns on 116 carries. Brendan McGehee has also shown to be a formidable option on the ground with 70 carries for 525 yards and eight TDs. Payton Young has also performed well for a deep backfield with 77 carries for 500 yards and three TDs. Quarterback Owen Ohman is 24 of 50 through the air for 379 yards, six TDs and one interception.

“They’re very balanced,” Tolle said of the Kings. “They don’t have that one go-to guy, but rather an offensive system. What that makes us have to do is be very disciplined at every position on defense. You have to be just as disciplined on defense as they are on offense, because coach Mannering will find the guys who aren’t being disciplined and exploit them. It’s a tournament ballgame, and who wants to practice more next week is what it comes down to.”

Nate Hein leads Tipton’s rushing offense with 139 carries for 849 yards and six TDs, while Brody Dell has added 117 carries for 639 yards and eight TDs. In just over four games of action, Hooker is 43 of 79 through the air for 629 yards, four TDs and one interception. He also has 44 carries for 263 yards and six TDs on the ground. Jake Devendorf is the teams’s leading receiver with 28 catches for 382 yards and three TDs.

“They’re very solid,” Mannering said of Tipton. “They have a really good nucleus of players. They obviously throw it well and run the ball extremely well also, so it’ll be tough to defend everything. It’s a big challenge for us obviously. Western ran the ball on us very well and we have to improve that. At the same time, we have to be able to cover the deep receivers. Defensively it’s a big challenge, so we have to play extremely well on the offensive side and on special teams.”

Tipton boasts an area-best eight sectional championships, with Cass a close second with seven titles. The Tipton-Cass winner will face the winner of the North Putnam (1-8) at No. 2 Central Catholic (8-1) contest next week.

Seeger (3-6) at Pioneer (7-2)

The two small-school powers meet at 7 o’clock tonight for the first time since the Panthers defeated the Patriots 14-7 in the 2006 sectional final. The teams met four straight years in sectional play from 2003-06, going 2-2 against each other with Pioneer winning the last two.

“We knew when they joined our sectional that we would probably end up playing them,” Pioneer coach Mike Johnson said. “I’m glad we drew them at home and we don’t have to make that trip to West Lebanon.”

The Patriots are the 2004 Class A state champions but haven’t won a sectional since ’04. Johnson said they remain dangerous.

“They are a very good, very big, physical ballclub,” he said. “They’re always good defensively. They have a hard-nosed run offense.”

The Patriots have struggled in the win-loss column this year.

“They’ve had some injuries. I don’t know the status of who is going and who is not,” Johnson said. “And they’ve faced some good competition with Fountain Central and North Vermillion that are ranked in the top 10. They’ve also played West Lafayette.”

The young Panthers have got their offense going during their current seven-game win streak and are scoring 43.2 points per game this year. But they’re allowing 27.3.

Many of the same players that are excelling on offense are struggling on the defensive side of the ball. Johnson said he’s not sure why.

“That’s a good question. I wish I had the answer or we would be better. I don’t know,” he said. “We’ve played some pretty good offensive teams.”

Lake Station (2-7) at Winamac (9-0)

The Warriors enter the sectional with the No. 1 ranking in the coaches’ poll and the No. 3 ranking in the AP poll in Class A.

They’re facing a Fighting Eagles team at 7:30 p.m. EST tonight that is an old opponent from the Northwestern Hoosier Conference.

“We played them back from ’76 or ’77 until 1980,” Winamac coach Tim Roth said.

Lake Station has played mostly larger schools this season up in the Region. The Eagles are coming off a 34-14 loss to No. 7 Whiting, which the winner of this game could face next week.The Eagles’ wins this season are against Calumet (28-20) and North Newton (36-12).

“They have a huge offensive line,” Roth said. “They have a three-year starting quarterback. They go 3, 4, 5 wide, you name it. They try to run a lot of quick hitting stuff, option stuff. They’re a finesse offense with reverses and screen passes and they’re not afraid to throw the ball deep. They will make you defend the whole field. I’m sure we’ll get their best effort.”

Lake Station is a small town located between Gary and Hobart in northeast Lake County.

“Their coach [Rich Lunsford] is an old Lowell guy who went through a winning program,” Roth said. “This is the first rung in the latter we’re trying to climb. We’re focused and ready to go.”

The Warriors are a dominating team, as they’re the seventh highest scoring team in the state (50.4 ppg) and have the seventh best scoring defense (7.6 ppg).

Those numbers are also skewed a bit because the first-team defense has only allowed 8 points the entire season — to Pioneer in Week 2, Roth said. The rest of the points have been allowed by the Winamac second-team defense.

“I think the most telling stat is we’ve outscored opponents 140-0 in the first quarter this year,” Roth said. “When you do that you can make some teams one-dimensional and our defense can go to work. We’ve bent, sure, but we’ve given up very few plays. This year we’re winning at the run game.”

Fullback Tyler Katschke has rushed for 1,413 yards and 23 touchdowns to lead the Warriors. Quarterback Parker Fox is still out with a broken collarbone for at least two more weeks. Backup J.T. Garnett started the final three games of the season and has passed for 394 yards and 8 TDs with just one interception. Sean Lynch is the leading receiver with 11 catches for 290 yards and 6 TDs. Linebacker Mitch Reed leads the defense with 78 tackles, 52 assists and 12 tackles for a loss. Tackle Dalton Button has four sacks. Place kicker Zach Markley is also a big weapon for the Warriors and has kicked field goals of 47, 48 and 50 yards this season.

Tri-County (4-5) at Caston (2-7)

The game is a rematch of last week’s 28-27 thriller at the Crater.

The Comets had chances to win the game on both sides of the ball in the fourth quarter but came up short. They ended up having a drive stall out at the 13-yard line in the closing minutes.

“We’re going to have to clean up our play, play harder and certainly tackle better,” Caston coach Chris Ulerick said. “The biggest different in the ballgame was our inability to tackle their players in the open field. We have to get them corralled in the open field and play with more heart as a team and want it when it’s close.”

Ulerick talked about the final drive.

“We stalled and didn’t make it in. We’ve got one kid lined up offsides and it’s first-and-15 from the 25, and for us first-and-15 doesn’t work real well,” he said.

The Comets have gone to a more ground-based offense of late after throwing the ball more early in the season. Ulerick said the Comets were running too many plays per game when they were throwing the ball more and don’t have the size or depth to do so. He added the Comets were dropping too many passes with their pass-heavy attack, further lengthening games.

The Comets had another freshman go down with an injury recently when Phoenix Singleton broke his femur in practice. Earlier, Eli Douglass broke his collarbone. Sophomore Andy Corn suffered a torn ACL.

Quarterback Quentin Douglass leads the Comets with 705 yards passing and 8 TDs and 532 yards rushing and 3 TDs. Wingback Conner Martin has rushed for 434 yards and 8 TDs. Doulgass has 69 tackles, 5 tackles for a loss and 2 interceptions to lead the defense. Jake Kingery has 64 tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss and a pick.

The Comets got a good draw with Carroll, Pioneer and Seeger on the other side of the bracket. The Comets would face the South Newton (1-8) at Frontier (1-8) winner next week if they can get past the Cavaliers.