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Top matchups
Class 5A
Homestead (8-0) at Snider (8-0)
Class 4A
Concord (6-2) at East Noble (6-2)
Class 3A
Lakeland (8-0) at Heritage (6-2)
Class 2A
Oak Hill (7-1) at Churubusco (7-1)
Class A
Southern Wells (2-6) at Sheridan (4-4)

Sectionals open with Spartans- Panthers

The Indiana Football Coaches Association advocated some rule changes for the state tournament and two of the bigger ones – adding a sixth class and a success factor – will be implemented by the IHSAA next season.

One item from the coaches left on the table was seeding the sectionals.

As the sectional draw unfolded Sunday, that issue returned and in particular the top northeast Indiana matchup of Class 5A unbeatens Homestead (8-0) playing Snider (8-0) in the first round at Spuller Stadium. The game could be played on Oct. 18, 19 or 20 because Northrop also drew a home game against North Side in a sectional opener.

But the battle between the No. 3 and SAC champion Panthers and the No. 9 Spartans, who have clinched at least a share of the NHC, is the one all the proponents of seeding the sectional will be pointing to around the area.

“It would be better for the sectional if the two teams with the best records played potentially in the championship game,” said Snider coach Kurt Tippmann, who was on the coaches’ panel that recommend the changes. “But whether it is Game 1 or Game 3 in the sectional, I don’t know if either one of us has an advantage.”

The two powerhouse programs have met in the postseason nine times since 2000, with Snider winning the last two. The Panthers have won the last five sectional titles.

“It rewards teams for having a good regular season,” Homestead coach Chad Zolman said of seeding the sectionals. “Others argue about conference strength or strength of schedule, but they already have some ranking systems in place that you can look at and figure those things out.

“But (the current system) is the way the IHSAA designed it. But we are going to play who they put in front us, and it happens to be one of the better teams in the state. But we feel we are pretty good too. Snider has owned the sectional, so it has to go through them anyway.”

Other area sectional openers which could have been affected by seeding are Concord (6-2) at East Noble (6-2) in 4A, Lakeland (8-0) at Heritage (6-2) in 3A and Oak Hill (7-1) at Churubusco (7-1) in 2A.

The postseason will also mark the start of Bishop Luers’ quest for a fourth straight 2A state championship. The No. 3 Knights (5-3) will travel to Woodlan (2-6) in the sectional opener Oct. 19. Luers wouldn’t face either Oak Hill or Churubusco until the championship game.

gjones@jg.net

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