It’s been a topsy-turvy season in the Hoosier North Athletic Conference, but the one constant has been Pioneer.
The Panthers are incredible 41-0 all-time in the HNAC since league play began in 2015.
The Class 2A No. 3 Panthers (7-1, 4-0) have a chance to record their sixth straight perfect season in the HNAC when they travel to Class A No. 9 North Judson (7-1, 5-1) tonight. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Liberty Field.
“North Judson, they’re 7-1 for a reason. They’re a great ballclub,” Pioneer coach Adam Berry said. “They are sectional champions from last year and they are playing really good football right now. It’s going to be a great atmosphere. I heard they don’t have a limit on the number of fans, so it should be a fantastic night of football. We’re just going to have to come ready to play.”
The Bluejays enter on a four-game winning streak, which includes a 9-7 win at previously unbeaten LaVille last week.
“Their defense, they fly to the ball. Their defensive linemen, they get off blocks and make plays. Their linebackers run to the ball and they do everything you want from a defense,” Berry said. “They’re a run dominant team. They have a great sophomore running back who is a force. We’ll have to get multiple guys to him and they also have other weapons around him.”
The Panthers faced a Culver team last week that was susceptible to giving up points but featured a high-scoring offense. But the Panthers defeated them 54-6 in their final regular-season game at the Pit.
“We came out quick. We got a stop early, scored early and scored often. In the second, third quarter they showed what they can do on offense, they controlled those two quarters and it was hard to get them off the field at times. That’s exactly what they want to do. They always look to get the 3.5 yards a carry, control the clock and they’re not afraid to go for it on fourth down on any part of the field. I thought our guys played extremely well and it was probably our overall best game to date,” Berry said.
LOGAN (2-6, 0-5 NCC) AT ANDERSON (2-6, 2-4)
The good news for the Berries is the Lafayette Jeff game is out of the way. The bad news is they’re now down to about 30 active players on their roster due to injuries, quarantine and grades.
“Our numbers are down but we’re fine with it. We’re happy with the guys we have out here,” Logan coach Mike Johnson said. “They’re busting their butt trying to win a football game. That’s important at this time.
“Really the attitude is pretty good for this point in the season. At this point in time they could be getting ready for basketball or wrestling or swimming. I think these guys are wanting to continue to play and win a sectional game for the first time in forever. We haven’t won a sectional game since 2010.”
The Berries are seeking their first NCC win of the season against the Indians, who are coming off back-to-back wins over Indianapolis Tech and Richmond by scores of 18-15 and 16-10.
“They’re not Lafayette Jeff but Anderson’s won two ballgames in a row and they’ve beaten two teams that beat us,” Johnson said. “Coach Qualls is an outstanding coach and they’re down to probably under 30 kids too on their roster. Coach Qualls has figured out you’ve got to run the ball sometimes. He wants to throw it but he’s going to do whatever it takes to win. They’ve won two big ballgames here and are probably feeling pretty good.”
TWIN LAKES (4-3) AT CASS (2-6)
Cass hosts Twin Lakes for the Hoosier Conference seventh-place game.
The Kings are coming off a 28-19 loss to Hamilton Heights in which they gave themselves a chance to win.
“It was a great game. We played very hard, we played against another really good football team,” Cass coach Clayton Mannering said. “They ended up winning the conference on our side. It was a game I thought we could win. Of course we’re disappointed we came away with a loss but there were plenty of positives to take away from that. For the first time all year I felt like we had a chance to beat a good football team, and that’s a good thing overall.”
Heights hosts West Lafayette tonight for the conference championship.
The Indians, coached by former Carroll coach Kevin Sayler following the retirement of Scott Mannering following last season, have dropped three games in a row following a 4-0 start.
“Twin Lakes is obviously a program the Mannerings are pretty familiar with. It’s a great place, great program, great coaches. I think it’ll be fun to play against those guys,” Mannering said. “They’re very similar to Lewis Cass. They’ve changed up their offense [to spread] and defense a little bit. To me they’re a team that’s very similar to us. They play very hard, they’re well coached. It’s the team that can execute the best on Friday I think will get the W.”
CASTON (2-6, 0-6 HNAC) AT KNOX (4-4, 3-2)
Caston is seeking its first league win at Class 3A Knox, which is coming off a 22-18 win at Triton.
The Comets played Triton to within 14-12 in Week 2, so they’re hoping they can compete with the Redskins, who have a win over North Judson in what has been a topsy-turvy season in the HNAC.
WINAMAC (4-2, 2-2 HNAC) AT TRITON (3-4, 2-3)
The Warriors are taking a three-game win streak into tonight’s game at Triton following wins over Culver, West Central and Caston.
They’re looking to continue that momentum into sectional play next week but they’re facing a Triton squad that played Knox to within 22-18 a week ago.