Cougars, Panthers to hit road for sectional
Sunday afternoon, the eight teams in Class 3A Sectional 31 learned who and where they will play come the first Friday night of postseason football.
With one week remaining in the regular season, the sectional journey will begin Oct. 23.
Rivals Corydon Central and North Harrison drew on the same side of the eight-team bracket but face different opening-round opponents. Both will make long trips for their first game.
North Harrison (8-0) is one of 21 remaining undefeated teams throughout the state. The No. 7 ranked Cougars drew a tough test in the first round: a trip to No. 14 Southridge (6-2). Statistically, the teams are similar with the Raiders holding an overall margin of victory in games at 24.88 points while North Harrison wins by an average of 23.50 points. North Harrison scores 40.5 points per outing (ranked eighth in 3A), while Southridge gives up 12.88 points (ranked seventh in 3A).
North Harrison’s defense has improved as the season trekked on, giving up 17 points per game. Offensively, Southridge scores an average of 37.8 points each time out.
It will be the first meeting between the programs. Historically, Southridge has won seven sectional titles while North Harrison seeks its first.
Corydon Central (5-3) will pack the bus for week one as well, heading north to face Brown County (1-7), the team with the worst record among the field.
The Panthers are after their second sectional in program history. The only one came in 2011.
This will be the second meeting between the clubs. The last was in 2004, a 29-28 victory by the Panthers.
If the Panthers advance, they’ll have an opportunity to avenge either a week-one loss to Southridge (28-20) or a week-two setback to North Harrison (43-39).
Three additional Mid-Southern Conference teams are on the bottom half of the bracket. In the first round, Salem (3-5) will head to Brownstown Central (6-2). The Braves rolled during the regular season meeting, 62-26.
Charlestown (6-2), the defending sectional champion, will welcome No. 5 Heritage Hills (7-1). The battle is a re-match of last season’s regional championship won by Heritage Hills, 28-7. Boasting one of the state’s top defenses, the Patriots yield 11.75 points per game.
Heritage Hills and Southridge are members of the Pocket Athletic Conference, while Brown County represents the Western Indiana Conference.
The second-round games will take place Friday, Oct. 30, and the sectional championships on Friday, Nov. 6.
The 12 teams earning a berth in the state finals will play on Thanksgiving weekend in Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, the state tournament’s presenting sponsor. The state championship games alternate each year as the Class 1A, 3A and 5A games will be played on Friday, Nov. 27, while the 2A, 4A and 6A contests are set for Saturday, Nov. 28.