The first round of the playoffs opened on a good note as I went 17-4 (81 percent) record last week. Heading into the sectional semifinals, my overall record is 166-68, which keeps me at 77 percent.
CLASS 6A SECTIONAL 1
Merrillville (1-8) at Crown Point (5-4): The Pirates earned a 34-26 win over Crown Point on September 1. Anthony Outlar had a fumble recovery for Merrillville in a 14-7 loss to Chesterton. Tyler Gomez managed 171 yards rushing with a touchdown in the Bulldogs’ 17-15 loss to Michigan City. Matt’s pick: Crown Point 27, Merrillville 14.
Lake Central (2-7) at Portage (4-5): The Indians posted a 40-14 victory at Lake Central on September 1. Sir Felix Garcia’s four-yard run into the end zone was one of the few highlights in the Indians’ 42-8 loss at Valparaiso. Scott Hansen had a 55-yard touchdown reception for Portage in a 36-33 loss to LaPorte. Matt’s pick: Portage 35, Lake Central 13.
CLASS 6A SECTIONAL 2
Penn (8-1) at Valparaiso (8-1): The Vikings slipped past Penn, 12-7, on August 18. Ryan Lynch threw for 144 yards and two scores and ran for 70 yards and another for the Kingsmen in their 48-7 win at Mishawaka. Jesse Harper came up with four catches for 91 yards and two scores for Valparaiso against Lake Central. Matt’s pick: Penn 23, Valparaiso 17.
Chesterton (4-5) at Warsaw (5-4): The Trojans blanked Warsaw, 13-0, in the 1990 playoffs. Cory Boren’s seven-yard touchdown scamper was the difference for Chesterton against Merrillville. Tristan Larsh threw for 135 yards and two touchdowns for the Tigers in a 26-20 loss at Concord. Matt’s pick: Warsaw 24, Chesterton 20.
CLASS 5A SECTIONAL 9
LaPorte (6-3) at Adams (3-6) (School Field): The Slicers claimed a 37-27 win over Adams in the 2008 sectional semifinals. Nolan Lorenz accumulated 81 yards on the ground and three scores for LaPorte against Portage. Tre Gray caught a touchdown pass for the Eagles in their 19-14 win over Saint Joseph. Matt’s pick: LaPorte 34, Adams 16.
Michigan City (6-3) at Munster (4-5): The Mustangs edged Michigan City, 21-13, during the 2013 campaign. Daelon Wren rambled 84 yards with a score for the Wolves against Crown Point. Dylan Bullock ran 26 times for 225 yards and two touchdowns in Munster’s 28-21 win over Kankakee Valley. Matt’s pick: Michigan City 30, Munster 22.
CLASS 5A SECTIONAL 10
Concord (8-1) at Elkhart Memorial (2-8): The Minutemen waltzed past Elkhart Memorial, 38-14, on August 25. Jack Lietzen scampered for 101 yards in Concord’s victory over Warsaw. Nolan Grose threw for 58 yards and a touchdown in Elkhart Memorial’s 14-6 win over Fort Wayne North. Matt’s pick: Concord 41, Elkhart Memorial 12.
Goshen (1-8) at Elkhart Central (4-5): The Blazers squeezed past Goshen, 17-14, on August 25. Rene Gutierrez accumulated 55 yards rushing in the RedHawks’ 20-0 loss to Wawasee. Jackson Wiltfong tossed a pair of touchdown passes in Elkhart Central’s 70-6 win over Clay. Matt’s pick: Elkhart Central 33, Goshen 19.
CLASS 4A SECTIONAL 18
Mishawaka (6-4) at New Prairie (9-1): The Cavemen are making their first visit to Amzie Miller Field to battle New Prairie. Colin Fee recorded seven tackles for Mishawaka in a 71-0 blanking of Clay. Daniel Tyler caught an 11-yard touchdown pass for the Cougars in their 56-0 win over Washington. Mishawaka coach Bart Curtis was in charge of New Prairie from 1997 to 2007. Matt’s pick: New Prairie 39, Mishawaka 21.
Riley (7-3) at Saint Joseph (4-6): The Indians rolled to a 42-6 win over Riley in the 2015 sectional semifinals. James Jackson tossed for 251 yards and three scores and ran for a fourth tally in the Wildcats’ 49-10 victory over Kankakee Valley. John Paul Lewis had a two-yard touchdown run in Saint Joe’s 19-7 win over Hobart. Matt’s pick: Riley 36, Saint Joseph 26.
CLASS 4A SECTIONAL 19
Angola (10-0) at NorthWood (7-3): The Panthers clawed their way to a 48-6 win over Angola in the 2014 sectional opener. Jarrett Gibson ran six times for 99 yards in the Hornets’ 38-7 win over Wawasee. Brayton Yoder accumulated 109 yards on the ground in NorthWood’s 54-3 win over DeKalb. Matt’s pick: NorthWood 29, Angola 24.
Culver Academy (9-1) at East Noble (8-2): The Eagles are meeting East Noble for the first time on the gridiron. Max Miller had a one-yard scoring run for Culver Academy in its 35-12 win over previously unbeaten Northridge. Dane Hile rushed for 29 yards in the Knights’ 14-13 win at Plymouth. Matt’s pick: Culver Academy 32, East Noble 28.
CLASS 3A SECTIONAL 27
Marian (6-4) at Knox (9-1): The Knights crowned Knox, 33-6, during the 1968 campaign. Michael Hemmingway had a 33-yard reception for Marian in its 8-0 win over Glenn. Dawson Patrick rambled for 114 yards and two scores in the Redskins’ 49-7 win at Fairfield. Matt’s pick: Knox 25, Marian 23.
Peru (5-5) at Jimtown (5-5): The Jimmies claimed a sectional crown in 2013 with a 48-0 triumph over Peru. Jordan Rader scampered for 107 yards and three touchdowns in the Bengal Tigers’ 33-14 win over Tippecanoe Valley. Riley Lundy ran for 104 yards in Jimtown’s 20-7 win at Maconaquah. Matt’s pick: Jimtown 26, Peru 21.
CLASS 2A SECTIONAL 34
Central Noble (7-3) at Bluffton (5-5): The Cougars are taking on Bluffton for the first time on the football field. Braxton Dial ran for 142 yards and three scores in Central Noble’s 56-8 win over Whitko. Brandon Lockwood rambled for 235 yards and a touchdown in the Tigers’ 27-19 win over Bremen. Matt’s pick: Central Noble 36, Bluffton 23.
Wabash (2-8) at Woodlan (8-2): The Apaches have never played Woodlan on the gridiron before. Devin Higdon tossed for 206 yards and three scores in Wabash’s 30-27 win over Manchester. Jack Rhoades scampered for 129 yards and three touchdowns in the Warriors’ 68-0 blanking of Prairie Heights. Matt’s pick: Woodlan 44, Wabash 10.
CLASS 1A SECTIONAL 41
Winamac (4-6) at Triton (7-3): The Trojans closed the regular season with a 36-19 win over Winamac on October 13. Dylan Fox raced for 171 yards and a score in the Warriors’ 28-20 win over South Central. James Snyder threw for 96 yards and a touchdown and also recorded 10 tackles in Triton’s 42-13 win over Caston. Winamac had to forfeit its 48-7 win over North Judson on September 15 because of the use of an ineligible player. Matt’s pick: Triton 38, Winamac 28.
Culver (6-4) at LaVille (6-4): The Lancers were a 17-10 winner over Culver on October 13. Zac Ditmire tallied 82 yards on the ground with a touchdown in the Cavaliers’ 49-14 win over West Central. Dakota Figg ran for 17 yards and a score in LaVille’s 30-0 blanking of North Judson. Matt’s pick: LaVille 18, Culver 15.