It was a somewhat loud opening night of sectionals. Most games went as expected, but there were a couple upsets, a couple nail biters and some high-powered offenses…
Charlestown stunned Heritage Hills, 39-37: The 3A No. 2/9 Patriots led 31-15 late in the third quarter, but gave up three straight touchdowns (and three two-point conversions) to surrender the lead. Down 39-31 with under two minutes left, senior QB Caleb Mulzer connected with classmate Jack Fischer on a 40-yard TD pass, but their two-point conversion pass fell short and Charlestown hung on to win. Heritage Hills ended the season 8-2. Charlestown (8-2) will host Brownstown Central (8-2) in the bottom half of the 3A-31 bracket. Take: If you told me at the beginning of the season that the Pats would win eight games, I’d have probably taken the under. They lost a lot from that semi-state team last year. This year featured a solid senior class as well, but replacing all-state players at six positions is tough. Regardless, Todd Wilkerson has built a strong foundation and they have some good pieces returning next season.
Southridge upset North Harrison, 28-21: Southridge scored 14 unanswered in the fourth quarter, including a 55-yard, go-ahead pick-6 by senior DE Chad Meyer with 1:54 left. The Raiders (7-3) have a reputation as being one-dimensional within their wing-T offense, but it’s effective as all 288 yards came on the ground and beat the No. 7/15 team in 3A. Take: I’m not sure how big of a shock this was, media poll withstanding. This was a nip-tuck game throughout, but Southridge forced three interceptions and that’s the ball game. Raiders will host Corydon (6-4) in the other 3A-31 semifinal.
Reitz survived a scare from Central, 35-28: Reitz was down 21-14 early in the third quarter, but senior RB Kerrion Ringo scored on successive drives to snap a 21-all game and then came up with his second interception of the night to seal the win. Central senior RB Dorian Williams rushed for 269 yards. But the No. 4/4 Panthers (9-1), who lead all of 4A in interceptions, added three more picks and also recovered a fumble. Take: Valiant effort by Central (5-5), but there’s no such thing as moral victories or bad wins. Reitz survived and advanced, which likely doesn’t breed confidence for its fan base. But now the Panthers have to turn the page with No. 5/6 Jasper coming to the Bowl next week for a 4A-24 semifinal. Jasper (9-1) spanked Owen Valley 38-0.
- Princeton posts comeback win over Memorial 22-19. Princeton was slightly favored in this 3A-32 opener and it turned out to be quite a game. Princeton (8-2) trailed 19-7 early in the fourth quarter but rallied with back-to-back strikes, and its defense held up its end. First 8-win season for Princeton since 1993. It’ll be at Mount Vernon (5-5) in one semifinal. Top-ranked Gibson Southern will host Sullivan (8-2) in the other.
- Boonville out slugged Bosse 53-40 in an interesting shootout. Junior RB Camdon Cartwright rushed for more than 200 yards for the fourth game in a row (sixth this season) and scored four TDs. First sectional win at home in 11 years for the Pioneers (7-3), who will play at Harrison (8-2) in the other 4A-24 semifinal.
- Mater Dei’s offense was brilliant in 63-22 rout of South Spencer. The 2A top-ranked Wildcats (10-0), coming off a thrilling win over Reitz last week, scored on their first nine possessions against the Rebels. The only time MD didn’t score was on the final series when it took a knee 5-yards outside the SS end zone to run out the clock. The Wildcats’ reward? Hop a bus to face Providence (4-6) in a 2A-40 semifinal. North Posey (3-7) will be at Eastern Perkin (3-7).
- Linton, Perry Central will meet again: Linton and Perry Central both won convincingly last night and will meet in a battle of ranked teams. No. 10/10 Perry Central (9-1) hosts No. 3/3 Linton-Stockton (9-1) in next week’s 1A-48 semifinal round. PC has been knocked out of the tournament by Linton the past four years and are again the underdog. Tecumseh (4-6) will travel to North Central (Farmersburg) (6-4) in the other semifinal.