Week 11 preview: Winamac, well-rested Judson figure to get down and dirty
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Class 1A, Sectional 41 semifinal: North Judson (6-3) at Winamac (8-0), 7:30 p.m.
North Judson. Winamac. Sectional.
There might not need to be much to be hyped when the Blue Jays and rival Warriors meet at this point in the season, but there are some interesting questions that seem to have popped up.
1) Did any Winamac starters play in the second half of their 48-14 win over West Central last week?
No. All the offensive starters sat in the second half after Winamac built a 42-0 lead. Half of the defensive starters didn’t play in the second half. The half that did play the first series didn’t play after that. There was a running clock for the entire second half.
“Just the fact that we came out and just really took care of business,” Winamac coach John Hendryx said. “Got them off the field with our defense, and our offense was very efficient in getting points scored and not making very many mistakes.”
2) Winamac and North Judson were scheduled to meet on Sept. 17, but that game was canceled due to COVID issues at Winamac. (North Judson scheduled Class 3A, No. 7 Tippecanoe Valley instead and lost 26-10.) So does that give No. 4 Winamac an advantage going into this game?
“I think it kind of goes both ways,” Hendryx said. “When you get to play people, you find things that work pretty well offensively and defensively and things that don’t, so you’ve got a chance to change things if you need to. Not playing them, you don’t get to do that. But at the same time, then there’s the other side of the coin where they don’t see anything on either side of the ball other than what they saw. I’m not sure. I think it’s probably a wash.”
3) North Judson defeated Lake Station by forfeit last week after Lake Station canceled the day before the game, citing a lack of numbers. So does that give them any type of advantage going into this game?
“I don’t know,” Hendryx said. “You get a chance to get healthy. You don’t get any more new nicks and bruises. … At the same time, they didn’t find out they weren’t playing until late Thursday, so it wasn’t like they had the whole week to prepare for not playing Friday. So I think that makes a difference too.”
4) How has the Roudebush Field natural grass playing surface held up after taking on a lot of rain since the last home game against Triton on Oct. 15?
“I wouldn’t say it’s ideal,” Hendryx said. “It is what it is. We looked at a couple options, and that did not work out. It’s not going to be any different when they’re on the field with the ball than when we do. … It just is what it is. It’s not a good situation. I know that. It’s sad. It’s too bad that this game has got to be played in less-than-ideal circumstances. But it’s the same for both teams.”
Hendryx said Winamac looked to move the game to Logansport, but Pioneer, who hosts Delphi on Friday, beat them to the punch. If Winamac beats North Judson, they will host the sectional final on Nov. 5, which could potentially put more stress on the field.
5) What will be the key to a Winamac win, according to Hendryx?
“Really the same things that we have been the last few weeks,” Hendryx said. “Just don’t do anything to hurt ourselves. Kids have done a great job. We’ve really cut the penalties way, way down. That’s a credit to our kids playing with a little more focus and discipline. And then you can’t hurt yourself with turnovers. If we don’t have any penalties and don’t turn the ball over, and I think one of the big keys is don’t let them have any big plays.”
With the regular season meeting being canceled, this sectional meeting keeps up a streak of 52 consecutive years in which these teams have played each other at least once.
Winamac beat North Judson 14-8 in last year’s sectional final, but they have not beaten North Judson at home in a postseason game since 1994. North Judson has won the last three meetings against Winamac at Roudebush by a combined score of 101-6.
(Winner plays South Central-Culver winner in the sectional final on Nov. 5.)