By Beau Wicker
---- — Winamac stunned West Central in a 49-13 shellacking on the Trojans’ home field in a sectional championship game a year ago.
The Warriors go back to the scene of the crime tonight, this time favored to win.The Class A No. 3 Warriors (5-0, 4-0 Midwest Conference) travel to Francesville to take on the No. 5 Trojans (5-0, 4-0).“It’s the biggest game Pulaski County has seen or will see in awhile,” Winamac coach Tim Roth said. “This is why we have high school athletics. It’s two undefeated teams, backyard rivals, the whole shebang. At this point in time it could be for the conference championship. It’ll be a lot of fun.”West Central won the regular-season game 49-7 at Winamac last year before the Warriors completely turned the table in the tournament.“They embarrassed us at our place in the regular season when we were honoring our veterans. They took it to us and we didn’t have an answer,” Roth said. “When we found out we were playing them in the sectional we went back to the drawing board and our kids bought into it. And they didn’t have an answer for us. Some people are saying this is the rubber match. I don’t agree. We’re a new team. They’re a new team. It’s a new year.”The two teams are among the favorites to also win a sectional this year, although undefeated and No. 4-ranked Whiting will also be in the mix.Despite some key losses to graduation, the Trojans are still averaging 50 points per game this season.“I don’t think they’ve got the terrific weapons they had a year ago of Hamilton and Marlatt, but the Fritz kid is a year older and is an awfully good football player. They definitely have some offensive weapons,” Roth said. “The Holliday kid has moved to quarterback and obviously has handled that well. [Coach] Darren [Rodriguez] has opened it up more and is throwing it more, which he couldn’t or didn’t do last year. Because they’re two-dimensional you can’t load up the box. They’re more diverse. They don’t have the go-to big stud like they’ve had in the past but you don’t know where the ball is going. They’ve had 7 or 8 guys score in different games.“I don’t know if they’re better than they were last year but I don’t think they’re any worse. We’ll have our hands full over there. They have a very good team.”The Warriors are scoring 52 ppg and allowing just 7. They’re led by fullback Tyler Katschke, who has rushed for 708 yards and 13 touchdowns. Quarterback Parker Fox has passed for 390 yards and 6 TDs and rushed for 349 yards and 6 more scores. Tight end Sean Lynch is the top receiver with six catches for 165 yards and 3 TDs. Linebacker Mitch Reed leads the defense with 48 tackles, nine tackles for a loss and an interception.Muncie C. (3-2, 1-1 NCC) at Logansport (1-4, 1-2 NCC)The Berries host the Bearcats for homecoming.The Berries have shown improved play of late which culminated with a 39-13 win at Marion last week which snapped a 12-game losing streak.They outscored the Giants 27-0 in the second half last week.“We did some things in the second half that we didn’t do earlier in the year. Hopefully we keep things going for us in a positive direction this week,” LHS coach Brad Urban said. The Berries held Marion’s Will Collins in check. After rushing for 411 yards and 5 TDs against the Berries a year ago, Collins was held to 59 yards and was kept out of the end zone last week.“We played our most complete game defensively we’ve played all year. We only gave up one touchdown the whole game, the other was on offense,” Urban said.Fullback Jacob Shelton is leading the Berries with 520 yards and 10 TDs on the ground this season. Quarterback Ryan Schrock adds 267 yards and 9 TDs.Linebacker Khalil Carter leads the defense with 30 solo tackles, 35 assists and 8 tackles for a loss.The Berries are facing a Bearcats team that has won 3 of 4, with the only loss coming last week, 30-26 loss at first-place Richmond.The Bearcats have wins over Muncie South (45-32), Kokomo (19-13) and New Castle (34-6).“Obviously they’ve got a little momentum going,” Urban said. “It’s a solid Muncie Central team.”Billy Walker has passed for 523 yards and five TDs for the Bearcats. Jaylen White is the leading rushing with 323 yards and 5 TDs.The leading receivers are Joe Williams (13 catches, 266 yards, 2 TDs) and Timmric Barrett (12 catches, 139 yards, 2 TDs).Urban said the Bearcats try to feature Williams and Barrett. “They do some different things with those guys. They run some Wildcat and hand the ball to them and throw the ball to them. They get their best athletes the ball,” he said. “It makes it difficult for the defense because they do so many different things. Marion also ran a multiple offense and they have the same strategy.”N. White (3-2, 2-2 MWC) at Caston (1-4, 1-2 MWC)Home-field advantage has historically meant a lot in this series.Last season the Comets ended a seven-game losing streak at North White, their first win in Monon since 1996.The Vikings will try to return the favor tonight. The Vikings have lost six straight in Fulton, with their last win being a sectional win in 2001. Caston coach Chris Ulerick said his squad will have to play better offensively than it did a week ago in a 20-6 loss at Carroll.“We couldn’t catch the ball. We couldn’t run the ball,” he said. “If you can’t do one, you can’t do the other because all they have to do is defend the one. We have to be able to do a little bit of both to be effective. We don’t have to be a great running team or great passing team to be an effective offensive team. We just have to sustain drives. “We talked to the kids and we’ve had a good week of practice. We got after it a bit. Hopefully the scout teams on offense and defense have given us some good looks. We’ve made a few changes to give us better looks. The coaching staff is working hard and so have the kids. The biggest thing is getting better each week and we think we’re doing that. Hopefully we come out [tonight] and show it.”Quentin Douglass has passed for 540 yards and 7 TDs and rushed for 242 yards and a TD to lead the Comets. His top targets have been Brayton Jellison (14 catches, 130 yards, 4 TDs), Jacob Kingery (10 catches (110 yards, 1 TD) and Dustin Offenberger (7 catches, 161 yards 1 TD). Conner Martin has rushed for 176 yards and 3 TDs. Douglass also leads the defense with 25 solo tackles, 24 assists and an interception.The Vikings have been an up and down team. They have blowout wins over Taylor, Tri-County and Frontier and blowout losses to Winamac and West Central.“They’ve got some very good skill kids,” Ulerick said. “They don’t do anything super fancy. They’re well coached and have done a really good job for a long time. They’ve got some kids coming that are athletes. They’ve taken their lumps at times and have dished lumps at times. Hopefully our kids are ready to play and ready to put on a good show for our home crowd.”Pioneer (3-2, 2-1 MWC) at Frontier (0-5, 0-4 MWC)The two teams appear to be heading in opposite directions. The Panthers will try to continue their recent improved play of late.The Panthers have been a high-scoring team the last three weeks in wins over South Newton (66-28), Caston (62-28) and North Judson (42-20).The Falcons, meanwhile, are mired in a 33-game losing streak. They started the season looking like they were going to end the streak this year with narrow losses to Clinton Prairie, South Newton and Caston but have since dropped back-to-back 20-plus point decisions to Tri-County and North White with regular-season games left against Pioneer, West Central, Carroll and Winamac.CASS (2-3, 1-2 MIC) AT EASTERN (1-4, 0-3 MIC)Cass whipped previously unbeaten Peru 46-7 last week to snap a three-game losing streak as it hits the midpoint of the season.Eastern, meanwhile, is in a rut. The Comets are allowing 54.7 points per game in MIC play.The Kings beat the Comets 47-0 last year for its 13th win in the last 14 meetings between the squads.