• Val T.

Week 13 football preview:After beating North Judson, Winamac to face Central Catholic passing attack

BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC

Class 1A regional: Lafayette Central Catholic (4-3) at Winamac (7-2), 7 p.m.

The Winamac football team is a sectional champion. And now they are about to be reintroduced to their home fans.

Winamac took the Class 1A, Sectional 41 title with a 14-8 win over North Judson last week.

After losing their last four meetings to North Judson – including a 29-0 loss on Sept. 18 in their regular season meeting, they squeezed out enough points and played stout defense.

North Judson had 258 total yards in the Sept. 18 game; they had 114 yards in the rematch showing off a different defense, according to coach John Hendryx. The win marked Winamac’s first sectional title since 2016.

“We had a little bit of a scheme change,” Hendryx said. “Actually we had a lot of scheme change. You know, it’s kind of funny. When we were getting ready to play them the first time, in the scouting report that I gave the kids, we actually had two defensive packages in there. And then we told them that we made a decision we’re not going to use this one. We think there’s a really good chance that we’re going to play them again later. We know it’s better, but we’re not going to use it. This is a game we’d like to win during the season, but in the whole scheme of things, it’s not overly important. And so, I just think it just came down to the kids executing. We played with a lot of discipline. We really did a good job of getting our keys read and knowing where we’re supposed to be. But then when it just comes down to it … the defensive changes, the offensive changes, none of that matters. It’s football. You have to block, and you have to make tackles.”

Having also guided Knox to a Class 3A sectional in 2019, he’s won two sectionals at two different schools in the last two years. A 1980 Winamac grad, Hendryx has won six sectional titles in his career. And he’s also coached four different schools to sectional titles (Carroll (Flora), Northwestern, Knox, Winamac).

“I’m just really excited for the kids,” Hendryx said. “I was glad they got the opportunity to even be in the game, but then to win it is even more special.”

Now that Winamac has gotten this far, there are two lingering questions going into Friday’s regional against Lafayette Central Catholic at Roudebush Field.

  • Does a high school passing attack mix well with cold weather?

  • Is Winamac better on the road than at home?

Central Catholic, who is ranked No. 12 and who is the defending state champs, was idle last week. They were declared Sectional 42 champs after a 28-6 win over Clinton Central on Oct. 31 after both teams in the opposite half of their bracket, Traders Point Christian and Clinton Prairie, were forced to withdraw due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Central Catholic relies on their passing attack with junior quarterback Clark Barrett. Barrett stands 6-5 and averages 29 passing attempts per game. Evan Dienhart, Ty Buche and Colton Smith all have multiple touchdown receptions on the season. Brinn Roberts is second on the team in receiving yards behind Dienhart. Roberts is a freshman, Dienhart and Smith are sophomores, and Buche is a junior.

“He’s big, and he sees the field really well,” Hendryx said of Barrett. “You don’t play a lot of 6-5 high school quarterbacks. He can throw some balls on the field that a majority of guys don’t throw. He just has tremendous arm strength, and again at that height, you’re just really able to see the field well. He’s got a lot of big-game experience under his belt. … They like to get their wide receivers isolated sometimes and get in trips (three wide receivers to one side of the field) and get that one receiver by himself. … You’re going to be in some one-on-one matchups, and you’ve got to hope you win more of those than you lose.”

Game time temperatures are expected to be in the low 30s as Winamac plays their first home game since beating West Central 35-12 on Oct. 2. Winamac is 5-0 on the road this year and 2-2 at home. Of the eight sectional champions in Class 1A, they are the only one who didn’t play a sectional game at home.

“I’m going to tell you we don’t mind playing on the road,” Hendryx said. “We haven’t lost a game away. I’ve kind of always been that way where I’ve not minded playing on the road where it eliminates a lot of distractions. School ends, you come over, you get your stuff together, you get on the bus, and you go play. You don’t have really any down time or time to sit around and think or whatever. You’re busy. You’re busy from the time school gets out until the game starts. It’s obviously nice to be at home.

“It’s nice to have a regional game here. So we hope we play well. Because we’ve done well getting off the bus, and we’ve done that a lot lately.”

This is the first meeting of the teams since a 2012 regional game, which Central Catholic won 49-14 at Roudebush Field in route to their fourth consecutive state title.

Central Catholic defensive coordinator Gavin Breyfogle, 21, is a 2017 Winamac grad.


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