Friday night, like always, is one of the best days on the calendar.
It’s like getting the winning lottery ticket. Finding a brand new parka just before next week’s polar vortex freezes us like raw meat. Watching the Cubs win another World Series, while the Sox go 63-99. Or having a stranger say something nice for a change.
All these and more all rolled up into one, this is.
On 48 different grids across the state of Indiana sectional championships will be decided tonight. And I still contend that the football sectional is the hardest of all to obtain. It takes three weeks of excellence, luck, good weather, athletes passing as report cards come out and all the other intangibles it takes for a bucket of Gatorade to be tossed on the coaches’ frosty head.
I will focus on Da Region’s sectionals in this piece, because, well, I don’t give two bleeps who wins the Western Boone-South Vermillion clash.
Why? Because I don’t. That’s why.
In Class 6A we have Merrillville at Crown Point. This one’s like two brothers in the same bed getting in a blanket tug-of-war at 2 a.m. These programs have been playing in this game so long you almost know it’s going to happen in July. Of last year.
The Bulldogs have won three straight over the Pirates in postseason play. The teams have played in five straight sectionals. While the Andrean-Merrillville game has been dubbed “The Battle of Broadway” for decades, we might have to cal the C.P. game by the same moniker with all the business on Broadway in C.P.
Merrillville won the Week 3 game 27-24 in overtime. The Bucs have more team speed and a more headline-grabbing offense. I picked the Pirates to get to state a few weeks ago, but I also warned that they be ready for THIS game.
Crown Point is always ready for THIS game when the air turns cold.
In Class 5A Valparaiso travels to LaPorte. There will be a running clock in this one. All green all the time.
Now, we get to another classic Region showdown. Lowell will travel to Hobart in the Class 4A foray. Too bad this one can’t be played at the old Brickie Bowl. I bet Tom Kerr would take a broom over to the old haunts to get the cobwebs swept up.
Hobart was the king of area football for decades. Eleven trips to Indianapolis is proof of that. But in 1994 everything changed. And I do mean everything.
Mike Pickett and the Red Devils ran past the Brickies 28-25 in the regional and it’s been almost all RDP ever since. Lowell has made it to four state championship games since 2005. Hobart is looking to get back to the state capital.
The Bricks beat the Devils 38-7 on October 18. That street was only running in one direction on that night. I expect the same again. Craig Osika’s team is very talented and has a hunger that is hard to be controlled.
And Hobart has a nose tackle named Pickett, too.
As much as things change, they also seem to stay the same.
In Class 3A Calumet will host Knox. I would love to see Rick Good scalp the team with the worst nickname in Indiana high school sports. But, I’m afraid, it might be too much.. Knox is extremely good and they’ve been in these kind of games for a very long time.
But why not make some history, Warriors? Why not?
And in 2A we have another “Region” classic. Rensselaer will travel to Father Eckert Field to take on the Andrean 59ers. The biggest question in this game is is Rensselaer in the Region? Despite a bit of a drive I am going to say it is. I know in my former job Bombers Nation read every word online and sent folks to truck stops to pick up newspapers. Then, a genious in charge made the decision to stop covering Rensselaer.
Any more questions about why the media is dying?
Andrean and Rensselaer will be a great game. Two fantastic coaches and two talented teams. This one will go down to the wire. And the winning coach’s first name is Chris. What more can I say.
Enjoy this night. It is special and somewhat eternal. Soak it all up.
Because it may just be the last night we can all go outside without wearing nine layers of clothes.