The annual IHSAA sectional draw conducted Sunday didn’t treat area football programs with kid gloves.
Four of the seven teams will soon be game-planning for opening-round matchups against schools that have won at least one state football championship at some point in its history.
A week off will benefit Center Grove in Class 6A and 5A participants Franklin and Roncalli. All play Oct. 27 games with Edinburgh, Greenwood, Indian Creek and Whiteland starting sectional action Oct. 20.
Center Grove will play at Franklin Central. It’s the first time the schools have met on the gridiron since the Flashes eked out a 20-19 win in Week 5 of the 1990 regular season.
This Franklin Central team lost Week 2 at Roncalli, and hasn’t lost since.
“They’re obviously a team having an extremely successful season, and we’re having our own struggles,” Trojans coach Eric Moore said. “It’s probably not the best draw we could have, but we’re still working on Center Grove and trying to get better.
“The best thing to do is try and get some momentum before then.”
One of the state’s most difficult sectionals is in 5A where three of the teams ranked in the top five are part of Sectional 13. Bitter rivals Roncalli and Cathedral, last week’s Nos. 1 and 2 squads, respectively, will square off in a game hosted by the Irish.
The programs last played in 2012, a sectional final won by Cathedral, 34-7. Also in the sectional is fifth-ranked Decatur Central, which opens Oct. 20 at home against Plainfield.
“Quite honestly, I think it’s fantastic. I’m sure the players are excited, too,” first-year Rebels coach Scott Marsh said. “It’s an inevitability that you’re going to play a very good team, so let’s do it and let’s have a lot of fun with it.
“But we play at Decatur Central this week. Right now they’re the only thing I’m thinking about.”
In Sectional 14, Whiteland travels to Bloomington South a week ahead of Franklin making its second trip to Martinsville this season. The Artesians scored a 35-14 victory against the Grizzly Cubs in Week 5. It will be the Warriors’ first game against the Panthers since defeating South, 37-14, to open sectional play in 2010.
Greenwood, the area’s lone 4A representative, opens Sectional 22 with a drive to Beech Grove to play the Hornets. It’s the third consecutive year the Woodmen start the postseason by playing a road game.
Coach Mike Campbell’s program played a sectional game at Beech Grove two season ago, winning, 42-25.
“We know them well,” Campbell said. “Beech Grove is coached well, and we know the kind of team they’ll put out there.”
Indian Creek, victorious in four of its past five outings, will need to keep the momentum going in Class 3A Sectional 29. The Braves’ first-round opponent is Manual, an IPS school positioned to finish with a winning record for the first time in decades.
Should coach Brett Cooper’s squad prevail, it would likely face Ritter. The Raiders were 2A state titlist in 2013 and 2016 and Class A champions three times prior to that (1977, 2003, 2008).
Cooper knows little about Manual at this point.
“For us it’s a game on our schedule, but the unknown is kind of scary,” he said. “It’s an opponent we have to prepare for just like any other team.”
In Class A, winless Edinburgh opens Sectional 46 with a home date against South Decatur. The teams played Week 5 as the Cougars defending their home field with a 46-22 win.
South Decatur has won seven straight against Edinburgh — the latter’s most recent victory being a 20-14 decision in 2011.
Center Grove (3-4) at Franklin Central (6-1)
Whiteland (2-5) at Bloomington South (3-4)
Franklin (1-6) at Martinsville (3-4)
Roncalli (7-0) at Cathedral (3-4)
Greenwood (5-2) at Beech Grove (3-4)
Manual (4-3) at Indian Creek (5-2)
South Decatur (3-4) at Edinburgh (0-7)