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Old Rivals to Meet Again in Sectional Semifinals
What more could a high school football fan from this area want? The final four in Sectional 37 includes Eastern Hancock, Shenandoah, Tri High and Knightstown. The four schools have been each other’s closest rivals for nearly 40 years.
The only surprise among that final four – in the minds of some people – is Knightstown. The Panthers are just 4-6 and knocked off 6-3 Northeastern 29-6 last Friday. Tri was expected to beat Cambridge City, although that game was much closer than anyone thought it would be. Shenandoah and Eastern Hancock were expected to win big and they both did.
A couple of weeks ago I said if Knightstown would right the ship against Tri-Central, they could turn the season around and be a dangerous team in Sectional 37.
So far, that’s just what the Panther football team has done. Northeastern discovered that the Panthers are a pretty good 4-6 football team. In their last two games they’ve out-scored the opposition 77-6. I was reminded by a reader of the last time a prediction I made actually came true. It was January of 1978, and some buddies and I were watching Bob Gregory doing the weather report. He warned of an impending severe snow storm, saying it could develop into a blizzard.
I suggested to my buddies that we pool our money, go to Knightstown Pizza, play some pinball, and chow down on a deluxe pizza. I predicted we would get snowed in and be fed free pizza all night long. It was a great plan.
We pooled our money and ate the pizza. Then the owner made us all go home because of the blizzard outside. Then we went to the Snak Shak and tried the same thing, but they sent us home too.
However, my prediction on the snow storm was accurate.
I should have been a metrolog - meteerol – meateorlog – weather man.
On the down side, I did miss on last week’s prediction that one of the final four coaches would give me some great “billboard-worthy” material. That didn’t happen. As a matter of fact, they all chose their words very carefully. That’s the price you pay for printing that stuff in the first place.
I still can’t help but wonder what the Northeastern coach was thinking last week when he offered up his bombshell on the great draw his team got, getting to play Knightstown.
After his team was dominated and lost 29-6, all he could say was, “This is a pretty hard pill to swallow.”
So far, Sectional 37 has been pretty much a Tri-Eastern Conference versus White River Athletic Conference showdown. Of the eight teams in sectional 37, five were from the TEC and three were from the WRAC. They went head to head Friday night. The WRAC was 3-0; the TEC was 0-3.
That should explain to Northeastern fans why their 6-3 team got clobbered by a 3-6 team. There is just no comparison to the level of competition between the two conferences. Not counting Tri High, there’s just not much competition.
Centerville also lost, and Winchester was beaten by Alexandria, who was 0-9 coming in to that game. Wes-Del also lost to a 2-7 team. The TEC fared at a whopping 1-7 clip in the sectional openers, with Tri High getting the lone win over Cambridge City, 29-25. Cambridge City is also a TEC team.
There will be one more TEC-WRAC match-up Friday night when Knightstown makes another visit to Tri. Previously this season the Titans whipped the Panthers 35-14. In that game, Titan Brian Miller returned two consecutive kickoffs for touchdowns. Those great plays prevented the Panthers from sustaining any kind of momentum.
With the Raiders, Royals, Panthers and Titans in the final four of the same sectional, there are plenty of reasons to expect more than the usual number of dramatics.
“This is a real interesting sectional with these four teams,” Eastern Hancock Coach Kyle Johnson said. “You have the biggest rivals on the schedule in the final four. We don’t play Tri anymore, but there’s still a big history there.”
Tri Coach Bryan Peggs agreed.
“It’s great for our sectional, for the fans and for attendance,” Peggs said. “These four teams in the semifinals …it’s like it was back in the 70’s and 80’s when these teams played each other regularly and we were in the same conference.
“It’s something else because we always played each other for years, and we haven’t scheduled Eastern Hancock since the late 1980’s. Shenandoah isn’t on our schedule any more, and we haven’t played Knightstown in the playoffs in ten years. It’s pretty exciting having these four schools in the finals.”
Against other final four teams Shenandoah is 2-0, beating Eastern Hancock 10-7 and Knightstown 24-13. The Royals beat the Panthers 15-12, and Tri beat Knightstown 35-14. At 0-3 against the other teams, the Panthers seem to have the roughest road ahead. But right now, they are playing their best football of the season.
If the Panthers can continue playing the way they have the last two weeks, this sectional could be won by any of the final four teams.
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