The Whitko Wildcats football team fell in heart-breaking fashion to Wabash last week, 28-22, but hopes to turn things around in a first-round sectional game Friday against a very competitive Central Noble (6-3) squad.
Whitko closed out the regular season with a 0-9 record.
“It was very encouraging to see this team fight and compete with an opponent this week,” said Whitko head coach Jeff Sprunger.
“The game didn’t come out the way we were hoping; however, we got better in many areas. We just have to stop beating ourselves and making silly mistakes.”
The Whitko coaching staff watched a couple films of Central Noble in which they lost, but were impressed of what they saw in the Cougars. Central Noble tied Churubusco and Eastside for the Small school division Northeast Corner title.
“Watching film this week on Central Noble showed why they have had so much success this season,” said Sprunger. “Even through the losses in both the films we watched, you can tell they are a hard-hitting and aggressive team. They have some great size and ability on their team and we are going to need to come out and just match their intensity.”
Cougar quarterback Jarod Trowbridge has taken the reins this season.
The sophomore has thrown the ball 49 times for 211 yards. He has a pair of touchdowns through the air, and another on the ground.
The Wildcats’ secondary hopes to add to his six interceptions this season.
“They are a very physical team that does a great job at pounding the rock in between the tackles,” said Sprunger. “However, at the same time, they can spread teams out and pick up yards through the air as well.
“We are going to continue to just get better at what we do and focus on the small details.”
Churubusco’s football first-round sectional matchup is 34 years in the making. The Eagles have not played Northfield (7-1) since 1983, but will have their shot at home against the Norsemen this Friday at 7 p.m.
Facing the Northfield offense is no easy task to begin post season play. The Norsemen are averaging just under 41 points a game.
“On offense, Northfield is very dynamic,” said Churubusco head coach Paul Sade. “They run an option offense and spread the ball around to a lot of very good athletes. Their ability to spread the ball around makes them difficult to key in on one player in particular.”
The Northfield defense will also be a daunting task for the Eagles. The Norsemen have allowed a touchdown or less in four of their games this season.
“Northfield runs a 4-4 and plays extremely aggressive. They play fast downhill and have amassed over 65 tackles for loss this year,” Sade said.
Northfield has a few playmakers on offense that have caused defenses troubles this year. Quarterback Jake Fulkerson has amassed 654 passing yards for 12 touchdowns. The sophomore has just thrown just five interceptions this season. Fulkerson has also scored three running touchdowns and tallied 256 yards on the ground.
The Norsemen also has a pair of running backs that carry the ball often in the option offense. Kyle Reed has had a special senior season. Reed has carried the ball 122 times for 798 yards and six touchdowns. Reed nearly averages 100 yards per game, and the Eagles defense must contain his rushing attacks.
The Norsemen have another dangerous runner in Matt Coe. The senior averages an astonishing 11 yards per carry, all for 733 yards this season. Coe has the ability to break loose for large gains. His longest carry for the season was for a 91-yard score. Coe has broken the goal line for 14 rushing scores. He also has 336 receiving yards for six touchdowns.
Sade told his football team after their win against Fairfield that they’ll need to play their best football to get out of their sectional.
Northfield will impose a great task for the Eagles.
“We are trying to heal up and prepare for a very physical contest against a very aggressive team,” Sade said.
“We need to play assignment football and execute this week if we are going to have a chance to win.”
The Eagles soundly beat Norwell last Friday, 40-7, and seek to carry the momentum into sectional play Friday at Fort Wayne Wayne.
The 7 p.m. game will be Columbia City’s first test against a Summit Athletic Conference team this season. Wayne (3-6) has wins over Northrop, North Side and South Side.
The Generals may have a losing record, but have the ability to change their offensive schemes depending who they’re playing. The Eagles may have to prepare for two kinds of offenses.
“Wayne is an athletic team, that has some size and speed at key positions,” said Columbia City head coach Brett Fox. “Wayne seems to do some different things on offense. In the films, we exchanged, they have two different styles of offenses that they were trying to run depending upon who they were going against.”
The Generals have an offensive player who stood out to the Eagles coaching staff, wide out Craig Young. Young seems to do it all for the Wayne offense.
“He (Young) stands out right away. He is tall, big and athletic. They like to move him to quarterback and let him run the ball so that he can get the ball in his hands,” said Fox.
The junior playmaker had 297 receiving yards in 24 receptions, and a pair of touchdowns. Young also has carried the ball 140 yards in the wildcat formation in 17 carries. One of those carries was for a score.
Young is also trouble for his opponents on defense. He has accounted for three interceptions in the secondary, and also tallied a fumble recovery. Young is a special teams player too. He’s returned five kickoffs for an average of 24 yards. His long for the season was a 51-yard return.
Quarterback Brandan Young will be under center the most for the Generals. Brandan Young has tossed for nine touchdowns this season, but has thrown 15 interceptions. Brandan Young is also athletic on his feet, and has scored six scores with his legs.
The Generals do have playmakers that Columbia City (6-4) will need to contain. Fox says they’ll have to focus on themselves more than anything this week.
“We are stressing the way that we tackle, how we drive our feet and move our feet on blocks,” said Fox. We will be stressing being on top of our assignments so that we can build trust along the team.”