Week 12 football preview: Winamac seeks to avenge previous losses to North Judson
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Class 1A, Sectional 41 final: Winamac (6-2) at North Judson (9-2), 7:30 p.m. Eastern
To win, you have to think you can win.
The Winamac football team might find itself in that position as they prepare to face No. 10 North Judson in the Class 1A, Sectional 41 final at Liberty Field Friday.
Winamac lost to North Judson 29-0 back on Sept. 18. They also lost to North Judson twice last year and lost to the Blue Jays 56-6 in 2018.
But if recent history is against them, they might have the right coach on their sideline to try and overcome it. That’s because three times in his coaching career, a John Hendryx-coached team has lost to a team during the regular season and avenged that loss in the state tournament.
In 2010, Hendryx’s Northwestern team lost to Lewis Cass in the regular season but beat Lewis Cass in the sectional.
In 2008, Northwestern lost to Taylor during the regular season but beat Taylor in the sectional.
In 2003, Hendryx’s Carroll (Flora) team went 8-1 during the regular season. Their only loss was to Clinton Central. Carroll drew Clinton Central in the sectional and beat them 20-12 and went on to win the sectional.
“That’s something we’ve talked about a lot to them,” Hendryx said of his players. “If you don’t think you can get this done, you’re not going to. (Monday) night, we watched clips of films and showed them a lot of positive things we did when we played before and some things we probably could have done a little better. I do think that’s part of it.”
Of those last four losses to North Judson, three of them were at home. This one is on the road, where Winamac is 4-0 this season. Hendryx has said that there are no distractions when the team plays on the road.
“I’m kinda glad it’s a road game for us,” Hendryx said. “It seems like we play a little bit better on the road. … You get on the bus, and you go play. I think they feel pretty good. I talked to a couple of them last night after practice, feeling out the temperature of them and everybody. And I think they feel good about it. So we just have to execute.”
North Judson is coming off a 29-12 win over Culver last week. Culver led 6-0 after one quarter before North Judson scored 21 unanswered points in the second quarter.
The Blue Jays rely on the running back combination of J.J. Blount and Cheyenne Allen and senior quarterback Trey Hampton.
“They got some big plays,” Hendryx said. “They got an onside kick they recovered, and they basically scored twice in about 50 seconds. They hit a couple big passes, and I think that was really the turning point. Because it was a pretty good game up to that point. Culver was playing pretty well. Honestly, it reminded me a lot of the first time we played Judson. It was 7-0, it was almost halftime, and then we had a disaster at the end of the half and go in at 16-0. So they’ve got that ability to score pretty quick.”
Winamac is also in the unusual position of coming off a bye week in the middle of the sectional. The Warriors knocked off South Central 21-14 in their quarterfinal game two weeks ago. It advanced to the final when winless South Newton was forced to withdraw due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Hendryx said he doesn’t know how beneficial the bye week will be.
“I don’t think we’ll know that until this week is over,” Hendryx said. “I’ve had bye weeks before, but it’s always been the first week of the tournament, not in the second. We were able to get some good things done, things you don’t normally have time to do. We got them some rest. We worked on some individual skills. We had a day that we really emphasized our special teams. Not that we don't emphasize special teams, but you don’t really get to do a lot of skill work on your special teams.
“We hope it pays off, but I don’t think you’re ever going to know until you come out.”
Winamac is seeking its first sectional title since 2016. If Winamac wins, they would host Lafayette Central Catholic in the regional. Central Catholic was declared the Sectional 42 champion after both Traders Point Christian and Clinton Prairie were forced to withdraw due to the pandemic.
Central Catholic beat Clinton Central 28-6 last Saturday and is resting this week.