For half of our local football teams, this week is the calm before the storm.
Michigan City and La Porte get a week off before starting their Class 5A sectional on the road next week. The Slicers, ranked No. 8 in the final state Associated Press 5A poll and No. 6 in the final coaches poll, travel to South Bend Adams next week. The Wolves, ranked No. 10 in the AP poll and No. 7 in the coaches poll, will go west to Munster.
Chesterton also starts its Class 6A sectional on the road at Warsaw.
But some of our local schools do start their postseasons. New Prairie heads to South Bend to face fellow Northern Indiana Conference foe Washington. South Central with go south on U.S. 35 to face Winamac. John Glenn will host fellow NIC member Mishawaka Marian.
So even though half our teams are waiting a week, let me put on my Carnac hat (that refers to the old Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, for the youngsters out there) and toss out some predictions of local sectionals and beyond.
Class 6A — Chesterton has a chance at winning on the road at Warsaw, though the Tigers are tough at home. In the other semifinal is the matchup of the first week with Penn traveling to Valparaiso. Both teams are 8-1 with Penn’s loss coming at Valpo to start the season. The Vikings, though, have dealt with numerous injuries. Their defense is still good enough to hold off the Kingsmen. Going with Valparaiso to win again.
Class 5A — It should be the matchup of the century in county football in a couple weeks as City and La Porte should win their openers on the road. So who will win the rematch after the Slicers won a thriller 58-56 a couple weeks ago? I’m going with the Wolves since I’ll never bet against Phil Mason in a postseason rematch with time to prepare. Whichever local team wins the game has a great chance to play a couple more weeks.
Class 4A — Assuming New Prairie wins at SB Washington, and Mishawaka beats winless South Bend Clay, it will be a reunion with former Cougars’ coach Bart Curtis at the helm for the Cavemen and the game being at Amzie Miller Field. That will be a doozy, and the winner will likely win the sectional and face undefeated Lowell in the regional. I’ll go with New Prairie.
Class A — As much as I’d like to go with South Central to win, the four-game losing streak is worrisome. The Satellites should give Winamac a good game, but fall short nonetheless. Let’s go with Triton to win this sectional before losing to eventual state champion Pioneer in the regional.
• NEW PRAIRIE (8-1) at South Bend Washington (3-6)
Friday, 6:30 p.m., at School Field
Series over last 30 years: Tied at 5-5
Skinny: The Cougars have to prevent looking past Washington. They rolled over the Panthers 46-7 on Sept. 8, and next week’s matchup will likely be against former NP coach Bart Curtis and Mishawaka at home.
Prediction: New Prairie 52, SB Washington 21
• SOUTH CENTRAL (4-5) at Winamac (4-5)
Friday, 6:30 p.m. at Roudebush Field
Series over last 30 years: South Central leads 2-1
Skinny: The Satellites finished the regular season with four straight losses, while Winamac has been up and down this season. It looks like an even game with home-field advantage probably giving the Warriors a slight edge.
Prediction: Winamac 22, South Central 21
• Osceola Grace (6-3) at La LUMIERE (5-1)
Saturday, noon at La Lumiere
Skinny: The Lakers start their own postseason, despite not being an IHSAA school. They will defend their conference title starting with Osceola, which shut out La Lumiere 22-0 back on Sept. 30 for the Lakers only loss in the last two seasons. Look for a LaLu comeback and at least another week of play next week.
Prediction: La Lumiere 31, Osceola Grace 28
Reach sports editor Steve T. Gorches at firstname.lastname@example.org or (219) 214-4206. Follow him on Twitter @SteveTGorches.