Hey Michigan City football fans … count to 10.
Hey La Porte football fans … count to 10.
Breathe … breathe … stay calm. Just 48 minutes of good football and you’ll get what you want.
This week the biggest game is New Prairie hosting Mishawaka in Class 4A as former Cougars’ coach Bart Curtis returns home as the enemy. But that pales in comparison to what could happen next week if the Wolves and Slicers take care of business on Friday night.
I know, I know … don’t get ahead of myself, right?
Well, it’s my job as a columnist to sometimes look ahead. I can’t help it. What red-blooded football fan in La Porte County isn’t tingling in anticipation of a City-La Porte sectional championship game in Class 5A?
The rivals have met in the postseason twice with each team winning once. The Slicers won 24-0 in 2014 on their way to the 5A state final, while the Wolves won 26-9 in 1997 before losing the following week.
Both teams are favored in their semifinal matchups — Michigan City at Munster and La Porte at South Bend Adams. But that doesn’t mean much in high school sports where anything can happen.
The coach, the players just need to focus on the task at hand and not think ahead to what could be a classic rematch.
Remember that the regular season game at Kiwanis Field was 58-56 in favor of La Porte, which won on a walk-off touchdown pass. It was the most points the Slicers scored in a Duneland Conference game, while the Wolves matched their high point total in a DAC game for the third time in four weeks.
Another meeting in the sectional final for the first time could be the game of the century.
• MICHIGAN CITY (6-3) at Munster (4-5)
Friday, 7 p.m., at Mustang Field
Series over last 30 years: Munster leads 1-0
Skinny: After a second consecutive 6-3 regular season, the Wolves look to advance to a second straight sectional final for the first time. Finally winning a close game in at Crown Point two weeks ago should help and City goes on the road at a place that has hosted some sectional finals — though only one in the last 20 years, and that was last season while the Mustangs were still in Class 4A. Their last sectional title came in 1996, one year after the Michigan City consolidation. The Wolves need to start strong and not led up until the game is secure, as not to look ahead to a possible county rivalry matchup in the sectional final. These two teams have only met once, and that was also in the postseason with Munster winning 21-13 in the 2013 sectional opener.
Prediction: Michigan City 31, Munster 20
• LA PORTE (6-3) at South Bend Adams (3-6)
Friday, 7 p.m. at School Field
Series over last 30 years: La Porte leads 1-0
Skinny: The Slicers finished the regular season strong, winning five of six with the only loss a 37-35 setback at Crown Point. If not for some questionable clock management at the end of that game, it would be six straight wins and a share of a second consecutive Duneland Conference title. The sectional opener shouldn’t be that close even though it’s at South Bend and Adams won three of four after losing five straight to start the campaign. As long as the Slicers’ running game is working, they should roll. These two teams have only met once, and that was also in the postseason with La Porte winning, 37-27, in the 2008 sectional semifinal.
Prediction: La Porte 49, South Bend Adams 21
• Mishawaka (6-4) at NEW PRAIRIE (9-1)
Friday, 6:30 p.m., at Amzie Miller Field
Series over last 30 years: No meetings
Skinny: Not only have these teams never met in the last 30 years as it says above, but they’ve never meet going back to New Prairie’s inaugural season in 1968. That’s unbelievable considering they’re basically on other sides of the same county. On the field, there should be plenty of running the ball. But this isn’t about the field as much as the sidelines where Mishawaka coach Bart Curtis is returning to Amzie Miller Field for the first time as an opponent. Curtis coached the Cougars from 1997 through 2007 (84-38 record, two sectional titles, and one regional crown), basically putting New Prairie football on the map. He’s done the same for the Cavemen, reaching the sectional final each of the last eight seasons after Mishawaka only reached one sectional final in the previous 15 years. The Cavemen have won sectional titles four of the last five years, and reached the state final in 2012 before losing to Indianapolis Cathedral.
Prediction: New Prairie 42, Mishawaka 35
• CHESTERTON (4-5) at Warsaw (5-4)
Friday, 6:30 p.m. at Fisher Field
Series over last 30 years: Chesterton leads 1-0
Skinny: The last and only time these two teams met was also on the road in the sectional opener with the Trojans winning 13-0 in 1995. This game will likely be tougher. The Tigers play a fairly tough schedule. In their last two games, they edged Northwood (7-3) 31-28 and lost a close one at Concord (8-1) 26-20. Chesterton’s schedule has been tough, too, in the Duneland Conference, facing three state-ranked squads. The Trojans are also playing a little better the last three weeks, winning two out of three.
Prediction: Warsaw 21, Chesterton 20
Reach sports editor Steve T. Gorches at firstname.lastname@example.org or (219) 214-4206. Follow him on Twitter @SteveTGorches.