The Journal Gazette
Monday, October 11, 2021 1:00 am

Sectional pits No. 2 Leo vs. East Noble

VICTORIA JACOBSEN | The Journal Gazette

Leo's 40-32 win over East Noble – in which the Knights stormed back from a 20-point halftime deficit, only for the Lions to mount a game-winning drive in the final minutes – was one of the most exciting contests of the year in the Fort Wayne area. 

In the state tournament, football fans will get more of this classic NE8 rivalry: Class 4A No. 2 Leo (8-0) will once again travel to East Noble (5-2) for the first round of Sectional 19 on Oct. 22. 

Two SAC rivalries will also be renewed in the opening round of the postseason: Homestead (5-3) gets a rematch with No. 10 Carroll (7-1) in three-team Class 6A Sectional 3 on Oct. 29 (Carroll won the first meeting 17-10 on Oct. 1), and in the Class 5A Sectional 11 opener on Oct. 29 No. 4 Snider (6-1) will again face Northrop (3-5), which the Panthers beat 42-12 on Oct. 1. 

Other notable first-round matchups include Class A Sectional 44, where No. 2 Adams Central (7-1) will play at No. 7 Churubusco (6-2). 

Class 2A No. 1 Bishop Luers (8-0) will host Fairfield (4-4) in the first round of the Sectional 35 tournament, and the Knights seem to be on a collision course to meet No. 7 Eastside (8-0) in the sectional final. The Blazers open against Bluffton (3-5) and will likely face Central Noble (6-2) in the semifinals, a matchup that would be just three weeks removed from Eastside's 42-0 dismantling of the Cougars. 

No. 8 Norwell (7-1) will travel to Maconaquah (2-4) for the first round of Class 3A Sectional 27, and if the Knights win, they would next face the winner of Northwestern-Concordia in the semifinal. The Cadets have won each of the last two sectional titles. Norwell has not raised the trophy since 2014. 

East Noble and Leo will be meeting for the sixth time in three seasons, and while the Lions have prevailed in the last two regular-season meetings, the Knights have eliminated Leo from the state tournament in each of the last two years. 

“I think coaches and players are excited to get to play East Noble again, a great program, great team,” Leo coach Jared Sauder said. “We thought there was a good chance we would see them again after the Week 5 game. I think everybody had a feeling that that matchup would happen again, and here we are.”

The winner of East Noble-Leo will move on to face either DeKalb or Wawasee, which are both 1-7, in the semis. But NorthWood (4-4) and Northridge (5-3) remain waiting in the bottom half of the sectional draw, as do Columbia City (4-4) and Angola (2-6). 

Because of realignment, there are just three teams in Sectional 3, and the winner of Homestead-Carroll will host Warsaw (7-1) in the sectional final. The Tigers (7-1) beat Carroll 42-35 in the first round of the 2020 state tournament, then fell to Homestead 30-22 in the sectional final. 

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