Pioneer vs. Winamac. Winamac vs. Pioneer.
Tonight’s regional showdown has seemed almost inevitable for weeks now.
Have the young Panthers improved enough since the start of the season to knock off this dominating Warriors squad? Can the Warriors continue their dream season by getting past this up and coming Panthers team?
The questions will be answered tonight at The Pit in Royal Center. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 o’clock.
“It doesn’t get any bigger than this around here,” Winamac coach Tim Roth said.
The Panthers are seeking their fourth regional title and first since they went back-to-back in 2001 and 2002. The Warriors are seeking their second regional title to join the 2000 championship.
The winner will face tonight’s winner between No. 8 Tri-Central (11-1) at South Adams (5-7) next week in a semistate game.
Pioneer enters ranked No. 9 in Class A in both the AP and coaches’ poll. The Panthers have won 10 games in a row and have averaged 51.3 points per game during the winning streak.
They have dialed up their defense in the tournament, allowing just 12 points total in three sectional wins over Seeger, Carroll and Frontier.
Winamac enters ranked No. 3 in AP poll and No. 1 in the coaches’ poll. The Warriors have been a dominant team all season. They enter averaging 50.1 ppg, which is sixth in the state, and allow just 9.1 ppg, which is seventh. Their average margin of plus-41 ppg is fourth. Their first-team defense allowed just two scores during the regular season.
They continued their impressive play in sectional play with an impressive 41-20 win over No. 7 Whiting in a semifinal that was surrounded by a 73-14 win over Lake Station and a 33-7 win at West Central.
The Warriors got their starting quarterback back last week in Parker Fox, who returned for the first time in six games from a broken collarbone injury. He passed for 87 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 14 yards on just three attempts.