Football draw: Rochester, Valley, Caston, Pioneer to open sectionals at home
Culver to make return trip to Lake Station; Winamac heads to South Central
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
The Rochester football team will open postseason play at Barnhart Field for the sixth consecutive year.
That was among the revelations of the IHSAA football draw Thursday.
Rochester will host Bremen in a Class 2A, Sectional 34 quarterfinal. It will be their first meeting since Bremen beat the Zebras 41-7 at RHS in the 2015 sectional quarterfinal.
After going 3-8 last year, Bremen is 5-2 so far this season. A member of the Northern Indiana Conference, they play seven of their nine regular season games against teams in higher classes. Their only losses are to Mishawaka Marian and Jimtown, both of whom are Class 3A teams.
Bremen made it to semistate as recently as 2018. Bremen also beat RHS 42-0 in the 1995 sectional, a season in which Bremen was the state runner-up.
If RHS beats Bremen, they would play either Wabash or Manchester on the road in the semifinals.
In the other half of the draw, No. 3 Pioneer drew Delphi in a quarterfinal. This will be Pioneer’s first meeting with the Oracles since 2002, when Pioneer won 21-14. Pioneer has a 3-1 lead in the all-time series. Their only loss occurred in 1994.
A member of the Hoosier Heartland Conference, Delphi is 5-2 so far this season. The Delphi defense has recorded two shutouts this season, and their offense has recorded 30 or more points in four of their last five games.
If Pioneer beats Delphi, then Pioneer would either host Lewis Cass or travel to LaVille in the semifinals. Pioneer and LaVille are the only remaining unbeatens in Hoosier North play.
The Pioneer-LaVille regular season game was canceled due to coronavirus precautions at LaVille. Pioneer beat Lewis Cass 44-0 on Aug. 21.
Valley will try to break a long postseason home losing streak when they host South Bend Washington in a Class 3A, Sectional 26 quarterfinal at Smith-Bibler Field – Home of Death Valley Football.
Valley defeated South Bend Washington 19-14 in last year’s sectional at School Field. The Panthers are 1-6 so far this season.
Valley has lost their last 10 postseason home games. Their last win in a postseason home game came in 2002. As a point of comparison, Valley is 5-7 in postseason road games over that span.
If Valley beats SB Washington, they would either travel to Lakeland or host No. 2 Mishawaka Marian in the semifinals. Mishawaka Marian (6-0), whose game against Elkhart scheduled for Friday has been canceled due to contact tracing for the coronavirus at the school, is the five-time defending sectional champion.
In the other half of the draw, Jimtown will travel to Garrett and John Glenn will visit West Noble. Jimtown (4-2) is the only team in that group of four with a winning record.
Caston has lost the last 20 times they have played North Miami, the team they drew in a Class 1A, Sectional 44 quarterfinal. That includes losses in the 1993, 1994 and 2008 sectionals and a 41-8 regular season meeting at the Comet Crater in 2018 in their most recent matchup.
Caston’s last win over North Miami occurred in 1979.
This year’s North Miami team is 1-6 and is being outscored by 35 points per game.
The sectional matchup with North Miami will be at home. If Caston wins, they would travel to Northfield or Southwood for a semifinal. Southwood is undefeated and ranked No. 3.
Winamac will travel to South Central (Union Mills) for a Class 1A, Sectional 41 quarterfinal. Winamac has won the last two meetings with South Central, knocking them off in the 2011 and 2017 sectionals. That came after a 52-0 South Central rout of the Warriors in the 2010 sectional.
South Central is 3-4. Their only game against a team with a winning record resulted in a 41-21 loss to Wheeler on Sept. 11.
The Winamac-South Central winner will play South Newton, who received a bye, in the semifinals. South Newton is 0-5 this season and has lost 37 consecutive games. Per IHSAA rules, South Newton will open postseason play on the road since they received the bye.
In the other half of the draw, Culver drew Lake Station for the second straight year.
While Culver is coming off a win over Caston last week, Lake Station is 0-6 and being outscored by 26 points per game. Culver routed Lake Station 60-14 in the 2019 sectional.
If Culver wins, they would either play West Central at home or North Judson on the road. North Judson is 6-1 and the defending sectional champion.