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FB: Class 4A Sectional 13 preview

October 18, 2012
By Andrew Smith of Hancock County Sports

Sectional 13 has two interesting twists. First, there's a heavy favorite -- No. 4/5 Mt. Vernon, which hasn't played a close game since an OT loss the opening week of the season. Second, there's the fact that Mt. Vernon could possibly have to win three rematches against conference schools -- never an easy feat -- to win the sectional.

Last season, Pendleton Heights avenged its one regular-season loss en route to the sectional championship. The year before, the Arabians did the games -- reversing a regular-season defeat. Beyond Mt. Vernon, it's a wide-open sectional that features five Hoosier Heritage Conference schools, two Muncie schools and a geographic outlier in Frankfort.

Let's look at the first-round matchups, in order of the bracket:

Greenfield-Central (3-6) at Muncie Central (3-6)
WRGF-89.7 Greenfield, WXFN-Muncie
Sagarin: Muncie Central 47th 4A/Greenfield-Central 48th 4A. MC listed as 2.5-point favorite -- a virtual dead heat.
Best wins: Greenfield-Central 42-27 over Shelbyville (Week 5); Muncie Central 51-40 over Marion (Week 9)
Conference: G-C: Hoosier Heritage (2-5, t6th). Muncie Central: North Central (3-4, t5th)
Common opponents (both teams 1-1)
Pendleton Heights (G-C lost 0-45 Week 9; MC lost 13-42 Week 1)
New Castle (G-C won 40-14 Week 1; MC won 33-13 Week 4)
Record vs. sectional teams: G-C 0-4, Muncie Central 0-2.
Record vs. 4A teams: G-C 2-5, Muncie Central 3-3.
Outlook: When this game was drawn two weeks ago, I saw this as a great draw for Greenfield-Central. It still is likely the best draw the Cougars could have gotten, but since then, G-C has been outscored 92-7 and Muncie Central beat a solid Marion team 51-40, scoring a season high in points in the process. G-C has a really solid win on its resume -- a 42-27 victory over Shelbyville in Week 5 -- but has really struggled to find itself in the last three weeks. The Cougars' Derek Conley is a dynamic playmaker both with his arm and his feet, as he has thrown for eight TDs and run for five more. Muncie Central is led by QB Billy Walker, who has thrown for 1,263 yards this season, and RB Tim Barrett, who had a 275-yard, 5-TD performance against Marion last week. Offense hasn't been the Bearcats' issue, as they score 26 points per game. However, they allow nearly 34 ppg. G-C's offense can be very good (42 points vs. Shelbyville, 33 vs. Rushville) or not (20 points the last 3 weeks, on a KOR and two late scores against a JV defense)
2nd round hosts: G-C would play at Delta/host Frankfort. Muncie Central would be on the road regardless of opponent.

Delta (6-3) at Frankfort (3-6)
Sagarin: Delta 22nd 4A/Frankfort 41st. Delta listed as 11-point favorite.
Best wins: Delta 42-25 over Shelbyville (Week 9), Frankfort 21-8 over Western (Week 1).
Conference: Delta: Hoosier Heritage (5-2, 2nd). Frankfort: Sagamore (1-6, 7th)
Common opponents: none
Record vs. sectional teams: Delta 2-2, Frankfort 0-0.
Record vs. 4A teams: Delta 4-2, Frankfort 0-1.
Outlook: This is the "enigma" game of the sectional, as Frankfort plays nobody east of U.S. 31 and plays a nearly-exclusively 3A schedule. Delta plays nobody west of U.S. 31 and plays all but two of its games against 4A or 5A teams. What we know is that Delta's offense is young and very balanced, with sophomore QB Cade Jones throwing for 795 yards, sophomore fullback Joe Spegal running for 1,182 and wideout Jalen Robinson catching 338 passing yards and being a go-to receiver at key points in games. Delta has posted some impressive games, but the Eagles have beaten the teams that are better than them, and lost to the teams ahead of them -- their three losses are to teams with a combined record of 22-5. Frankfort likes to throw it -- QB Isaac Rudd has 1,056 passing yards and receivers Cord Barricklow and Christian Smith are over the 325-yard mark receiving. Frankfort has lost six straight games after starting the year 3-0, but Delta has to make the long bus ride. 
2nd round hosts: Delta would host regardless of opponent. Frankfort would travel to Greenfield-Central/host Muncie Central

Muncie South (6-2) at Pendleton Heights (7-2)
Sagarin: Muncie South 30th 4A/PH 18th 4A. PH listed as a 14-point favorite
Best wins: Muncie South 30-27 over Yorktown (Week 1). PH 24-14 over Delta (Week 6)
Conference: Muncie South: independent. Pendleton Heights: Hoosier Heritage (5-2/t2nd)
Common opponents: both teams 2-0
Yorktown (MS won 30-27 Week 1; PH won 35-25 Week 7)
Muncie Central (MS won 54-41 Week 2; PH won 42-13 Week 1)
Record vs. sectional teams: Muncie South 1-0, PH 4-1
Record vs. 4A teams: Muncie South 4-1, PH 4-2
Outlook: Muncie South has quietly put together a solid season. The strength of schedule might make the record deceiving -- it's the sixth-weakest schedule in 4A according to Sagarin -- but the collapse of the Olympic Conference a few years back and both neighboring leagues the HHC and NCC becoming self-contained after Week 2 have made it difficult for the Rebels to build a schedule -- so they face Connersville twice, a 1A charter school in Anderson Prep and 0-9 South Dearborn. In their defense, a Week 4 game against Leo, which would've been the Rebels' toughest foe, was canceled due to weather and not made up. The Rebels have an offense that's rolled up 35 points per game and one of the top coaches in the area in Mike Paul, who is in his 35th year at Muncie South. QB Timber Hatfield has thrown it for more than 1,300 yards this season and RB McKenzee Nash is a 1,000-yard rusher. PH is also fairly balanced and after suffering fairly heavy graduation losses from last season -- the Arabians' offensive and defensive lines are comprised completely of underclassmen -- the Arabians have put together an outstanding season. PH has won four straight and is averaging 33 points per game. The Arabians have topped the 40-point mark four times. QB Jesse Furrow is third in the HHC in passing (1148 yards) and RB Jon Furrow is fifth in the conference in rushing with 814 yards and 14 TDs. He is also quite a weapon in the kicking game. WRs Chandler Wilson, Austin Coffel and Kurt Talbert give the Arabians quite a bit of balance in their run-and-shoot attack.
2nd round hosts: Muncie South would travel to Mt. Vernon but would host New Palestine. Pendleton Heights would be on the road regardless of opponent.

Mt. Vernon (8-1) at New Palestine (3-6)
Sagarin: MV 7th 4A/NP 29th 4A. Mt. Vernon listed as 22.5-point favorite.
Best wins: MV 58-26 over Pendleton Heights (Week 5). NP 28-6 over Richmond (Week 2)
Conference: Hoosier Heritage (MV 7-0, 1st; NP 2-5, t6th)
Common opponents see conference record
Previous meetings: Mt. Vernon won 48-13 in Week 9
Record vs. sectional teams: MV 4-0, NP 1-3
Record vs. 4A teams: MV 6-0, NP 2-4
Outlook: Mt. Vernon is the clear favorite in the sectional, and hasn't been challenged since a 28-21 OT loss to Kokomo in Week 1. The Marauders have since scored at least 35 points in each game, and their varsity defense has shut out four of their last six opponents. A big reason why are the HHC's second and fourth-leading rushers -- 1,000-yard backs Anthony Burnett and Tyler Dicks. Burnett has also hit paydirt 20 times this season. MV rarely throws, but QB Jordan Miller completes passes at a 60-percent clip. The Marauders' lines are stout and their skill players are very quick. Andy Spears quarterbacks a defense that has shut out Delta and Shelbyville and left the field against Rushville and Greenfield-Central without having given up a point. MV had 325 rushing yards last week against New Palestine. Meanwhile, the Dragons have had a year where they've largely been competitive, but have dropped a lot of close games. NP fell to Whiteland by six on a fourth-quarter TD, Yorktown in the final five seconds and Shelbyville in the final three minutes. The Dragons also outgained Pendleton Heights but fell due to key turnovers and big plays. NP has dealt with a lot of injuries -- they've started three QBs, three tailbacks and a number of wide receivers this season -- but has a solid line and can be a sleeper.
2nd round hosts: Mt. Vernon would host regardless of opponent. New Palestine would host Pendleton Heights but travel to Muncie South.

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