The sectional assignments released by the Indiana High School Athletic Association on Monday sent a radical shockwave through Clinton County.
Fans, coaches and players of Rossville and Clinton Prairie’s athletic teams likely let out the largest cheers of joy in the Greater Lafayette area – if not the state of Indiana – when it was announced that Lafayette Central Catholic would no longer share a sectional with the two county schools in boys’ and girls’ basketball, volleyball, softball and baseball.
Instead, the Knights were shipped to Sectional 53 with Attica, Covington, North Vermillion, Rockville and Turkey Run – with the possibility of moving up to Class 2A in baseball depending on how the postseason goes.
Carroll, dropping down from Class 2A, steps into Class A Sectional 54 with Prairie, Rossville, Tri-Central, Frontier and Faith Christian in all those sports except for softball (Tri-Central is in a different sectional).
In boys’ basketball, Central Catholic has had a stranglehold on the sectional title, winning every year since 2004.
And hardly any of the sectional games since have been particularly close – only three teams (2004 Carroll, 2008 Rossville, 2009 Rossville) were within single digits of the Knights, the closest being a 71-66 win over Rossville in 2008.
Rossville boys’ basketball coach Dave Mosson said he found out via text message from one of his players, junior Brandon Tonsoni, shortly after he left school Monday.
“I was shocked. If I thought anybody was going to move out, that would’ve been Tri-Central,” Mosson said. “I’m not disappointed.
“(Athletic Director Bob Knapp) was probably more excited than I was. I wish they were going down there when Rockville had all the good teams – that sectional’s going to be wide open again. But that also puts a little more pressure on me because expectations will be a little greater. We’ll try to handle it.”
Granted, this alignment is only good for the next two seasons, meaning these teams could see the Knights again in the 2015-16 season. But for now, they’ll try to spend the next two seasons gobbling up sectional titles.
“I’m sure there will be some excitement in school,” said Prairie Athletic Director-in-waiting Eric Ulrich. “Central Catholic has done an outstanding job of winning the sectional. I’m sure that will breathe a lot of excitement to our basketball fans and other schools involved.
“I’m now sure how the committee came to that decision. But I stopped trying to figure out the IHSAA a long time ago.”
LCC’s dominance also carries over to girls’ basketball and baseball. In basketball, the Knights have won the last eight sectional titles – and were heavy underdogs the last two years. In baseball, they are the four-time defending state champions and have won nine of the last 11 sectionals.
LCC’s dominance hasn’t been as profound, by comparison, in the other sports. Frontier has won the last two sectional titles in volleyball, but LCC won the six before that. And Clinton Prairie, LCC and Frontier have all had cups of coffee with the softball sectional trophy.
The other radical shift happened in football, where Frankfort – playing in 4A once again – got looped into a sectional that was even more unconventional than the last one it was in. Joining Frankfort in the eight-team field are Logansport, Marion, Jay County, Columbia City, FW South, New Haven and Norwell.
Frankfort AD Ed Niehaus was part of the three-team committee – along with Concord AD Dave Preheim and Boonville Principal Mike Whitten – that determined sectional alignments for Class 4A.
Niehaus said that Frankfort was basically stuck on an island with Indianapolis Roncalli and Indianapolis Chatard bumping up to 4A and placed in the south sectional.
“Unfortunately, Frankfort is in the middle of the nowhere as far as 4A schools go,” Niehaus said. “We couldn’t go south because there were too many teams in the south in 4A so we had to go north.
“I think coach (Mike Quick) was happy. He’s familiar with those teams because he’s coached against them before. Bonus is, we don’t have to deal with any private schools.”
Niehaus did say some other alternatives were discussed such as moving Logansport and Frankfort down to a south sectional and sending Chatard, Roncalli and Beech Grove west, and sending Muncie Central and Muncie South north to Marion.
“If you’re in the south semistate, your regional winner will play the Evansville regional winner. So if Logansport were to win your sectional, you’d have to travel all the way to Evansville (and vice versa),” Niehaus said. “They think beyond the sectional. That’s why (Frankfort) remained in the sectional we were located in.”
Niehaus said there’s a possibility sectional games could be played on Saturdays to accommodate the lengthy travel. The school farthest away from Frankfort, New Haven – located on the southeast side of Ft. Wayne – is more than two hours away one-way.
“It’s out of my control, but we’ll get to see some people we haven’t seen before,” Quick said. “There’s always a chance you can play a couple games at home also.
“I coached against South and I’m familiar with the area. If you’re playing good football at the end of the season, you’ll get a chance to win some tournament games. I’m excited to see some other competition and I’m all for it.”
Things also get a little crazy for the Clinton Central and Clinton Prairie football teams. They’ll be in Class A Sectional 44 (in the north semistate) along with Sheridan, Tri-Central and four Indianapolis schools – Indiana School for the Deaf, Arlington, Shortridge and Tindley.
Clinton Central’s sectional for basketball, softball, baseball and volleyball – Class 2A Sectional 38 – also sees some changes. Delphi and Sheridan are out, and Riverton Parke, South Vermillion and Southmont are in. Fountain Central and Seeger remain.
= Frankfort’s basketball, baseball, softball and volleyball teams remain south in Class 3A Sectional 25 in a five-team sectional with Crawfordsville, North Montgomery, Lebanon and Western Boone. Southmont and North Putnam, which dropped to 2A, were not replaced.
In boys’ soccer, West Lafayette joins Class 2A Sectional 13, along with mainstays Frankfort, Harrison, Lafayette Jeff, McCutcheon and Twin Lakes. In Class A Sectional 45, Rossville is joined by Northwestern, Taylor, Tipton and Tri-Central.
In girls’ soccer, Class 2A Sectional 13 is Frankfort, Harrison, Lafayette Jeff, McCutcheon and Twin Lakes. In Class A Sectional 39, Rossville is in a seven-team sectional with Benton Central, Delphi, Faith Christian, Lafayette Central Catholic, Northwestern and West Lafayette.
The next step will be to determine sectional hosts. Mosson said Rossville is hopeful it’ll host the boys’ sectional and Frankfort wants to keep the boys’ basketball sectional at Case Arena. Frankfort has hosted a sectional every year since at least 1923 with the exception of 1961-63 when it was at Clinton Central.