IN PREPS

Northern Indiana Semistate Previews

Class 6A Northern Semistate

No. 2 Westfield (11-1) at No. 7 Merrillville (10-1), Friday 6:30 p.m. CST

Class 6A No. 7 Merrillville comes in on a 5-game winning streak, with its last loss coming at the hands of Class 3A No. 1 Bishop Chatard. Last week, the Pirates took down No. 5 Elkhart by a 27-24 hard-fought final. For the star-studded Pirates, the one who literally shouldered the load this time was junior running back Lavarion Logan, who rushed for 187 yards and three scores on a massive 42 carries. After Merrillville bolted to a 14-0 lead, Elkhart scored 17 unanswered points and nursed a three-point lead after three quarters. After Elkhart scored to make it 24-21, the game-winning drive came with a little over three minutes left on a 5-yard TD from Logan. Merrillville’s defense also came up with two crucial interceptions on Elkhart’s last two drives of the game, with senior safety Anthony Mitchell responsible for both. Merrillville lost in last year’s semistate to Carmel by a 38-17 final, but this year they have added Logan and some other talent that transferred in from Morton High School in Jojo Johnson, Marcus Hardy and Paris Hewlett.

No. 2 Westfield is riding an 11-game winning streak, with its only loss coming to Class 5A No. 1 Indy Cathedral 56-20 all the way back in Week 1. Last week the Shamrocks took down No. 9 Homestead 42-9. Westfield junior QB Maximus Webster went 16-of-23 for 239 yards and four TDs through the air and also rushed for 77 yards and two scores in the win, connecting with senior Reid Schepers on three of those passing scores. Running back Carson Voorhis also ran for 100 yards in last week’s win. Senior Benji Welch picked off two passes as well.

These teams have never faced before and the winner will see either No. 1 Center Grove (12-0) or No. 12 Ben Davis (7-5) in the Class 6A state title game. Merrillville is gunning for its first-ever semistate title while Westfield seeks its fourth, with its last coming in 2016.

Class 5A Northern Semistate

No. 3 Valparaiso (8-0) at No. 11 Zionsville (6-5), Friday 6:30 p.m. CST

Class 5A No. 3 Valparaiso defeated No. 9 Mishawaka 35-14 to win its third straight regional title behind leading rusher Tommy Burbee’s 205 yards and two touchdowns. Burbee had missed the week prior due to injury. Hayden Vinyard, who had just set the school’s single-game rushing record with 336 yards the week prior in Burbee’s absence, also ran for two fourth quarter scores last week. After exchanging three-and-outs, Mishawaka went on a drive that ate up nearly 11 minutes on the clock and eventually scored a 2-yard TD run, but that was quickly answered by a Burbee 88-yard kickoff return for a score. The only other score Mishawaka would produce was a 95-yard kickoff return.

No. 11 Zionsville took a nearly the same route to victory after upsetting No. 2 Fort Wayne Dwenger 30-21 last week. The Eagles relied on its running game and defense to prevail, as senior QB Josh Stone ran 107 yards which helped him throw for two scores. Three players from the Zionsville defense finished with 10 or more tackles including Owen Rossell, Shane Bates and Otto Kyler. Grant Coleman also ran in a fumble recovery from 50 yards out for the Eagles defense. Adam Longmire also added a 30-yard scoop and score.

Valparaiso will look to get back to the state finals for the second straight year and seeks its fourth overall semistate title. Zionsville is also gunning for its fourth title, but its last one came all the way back in 2000 when the Eagles were members of 3A. The winner will advance to the 5A state finals against either No. 1 Indy Cathedral (11-1) or No. 12 Castle (8-3).

Class 4A Northern Semistate

Marion (10-3) at No. 7 Hobart (10-2), Friday 6:30 p.m. CST.

Class 4A No. 7 Hobart won comfortably last week by defeating Logansport 45-14 behind the strong offensive efforts of the senior backfield tandem of Riley Johnston and Tyler Turley. Johnston, the QB, ran for 169 yards and passed for another 127 and three total TDs, while Turley rushed for 115 yards and two scores of his won. Winners of seven straight, the Brickies gave up an 84-yard rushing TD on the first possession of the game, but they also scored on every first-half possession. Hobart senior linebacker and leading tackler Cam Smith did not play last week due to a leg injury, but his status remains up in the air for a defense that has allowed just over nine points a game.

There is no secret to Marion’s success, as the Giants beat No. 15 East Noble 28-20 last week behind 311 total rushing yards. Senior Malachi Simon ran for 122 yards and two scores while fellow senior Khalid Stamps rushed for 138 yards and junior QB Cubie Jones and senior Zaimar Barnett both added rushing TDs. The Giants have won seven straight since its Week 6 loss to Class 6A power Lafayette Jeff 43-21 and has averaged 36.6 points per game during that stretch.

Hobart is searching for its first semistate win since 1996 and 10th semistate title overall, which would be good for eighth all-time in the history of high school football in the state of Indiana. Marion will be shooting for its third, with its last one coming in 1990. The winner of this one will meet No. 2 Mooresville (12-1) or No. 4 Indy Roncalli (11-1) in the Class 4A state title game.

Class 3A Northern Semistate

No. 1 Bishop Chatard (11-1) at No. 2 Mishawaka Marian (11-0), Friday 7 p.m. EST.

Class 3A No. 2 Marian won its third regional in four years last week by trouncing first-time regional participant Calumet 56-0. The Knights scored 21 points in the first quarter on their way to the dominant victory. Electrifying junior Greg Atkinson returned a punt back from 50 yards for a score and had one called back from 58 yards out. Marian senior RB Malcolm Anderson ran for two scores on back-to-back possessions to open the game for Marian. The Knights also got 130 passing yards from senior QB Maddix Bogunia and 92 receiving yards and a TD from senior WR Jayson Johnson.

No. 1 Bishop Chatard has scored at least 28 points or more in its 8-game winning streak and has allowed double-digit points just four times all year long. However, one of those was in last week’s 28-18 win over Fort Wayne Concordia in which the opposing Cadets amassed 293 total yards.

Mishawaka Marian seeks its first-ever semistate title and a little bit of revenge after losing to Chatard 43-0 in last year’s Class 3A Northern semistate. Chatard will be seeking history, as the Trojans are looking to take over the top spot and break a tie with Fort Wayne Luers for the most semistate titles in Indiana high school football history with 16. The winner of this contest will tangle with No. 4 Southridge (13-0) or No. 5 Danville (10-0) in the Class 3A state title game.

Class 2A Northern Semistate

No. 3 Pioneer (12-1) at Fort Wayne Luers (7-6), Friday 7 p.m. EST.

It was a long night for Class 2A No. 3 Pioneer, as it escaped with a 24-21 win over No. 1 Andrean. However, it wasn’t all good for the Panthers, as they lost their second leading rusher Brock Robinson to a broken collarbone. Pioneer will now have to rely even more on the Lewellen twins, Ezra and Addai, who combined for 253 rushing yards and a touchdown by Addai in the victory over the Niners. Addai Lewellen also secured the game with a little over a minute left after an interception in the end zone. Pioneer has won 10 straight since its 32-28 loss to New Haven back in Week 3.

Prior to the postseason, FW Luers had not seen a Class 2A team and after three losses in its last four regular season games to 5A and 6A schools, respectively, the Knights have ripped off four straight wins and have scored at least 36 in all of those contests. Luers junior QB Carson Clark passed for 293 yards and four touchdowns in his team’s 36-17 win over Tipton last week. Fellow junior Krashaun Menson accounted for 130 of those and two scores. Sophomores Nick Thompson and Sam Koehl each had an interception for the Knights as well.  

Pioneer will be looking for its fourth trip to the state finals in the last five years and its sixth overall semistate title. Just like Chatard in 3A, FW Luers will be seeking history by grabbing the No. 1 spot and breaking a tie for the most semistate titles in Indiana high school football history with 16. The winner here will face either No. 13 Evansville Mater Dei (9-4) or No. 12 Western Boone (9-4) for the right to call themselves champions in the 2A state finals.

Class 1A Northern Semistate

No. 11 Lafayette Central Catholic (5-3) at No. 1 South Adams (12-0), Friday 7:30 p.m. EST

No. 11 LCC defeated Winamac 37-32 last week to claim its 10th regional title. Knights junior QB Clark Barrett passed for 494 yards and four scores, while sophomore Owen Munn hauled in 13 catches for 255 yards and two TDs. Senior Tommy Puskar led the defense with 13 tackles while fellow senior Tommy Regich recorded 11 tackles of his own. LCC has won three straight ahead of this matchup.

The undefeated and Class 1A No. 1-ranked South Adams Starfires beat No. 3 Southwood 48-35 last week. This has the potential to be a classic QB duel because, not to be outdone, Starfires senior QB James Arnold passed for 435 yards and five scores. Senior Drew Stutzman caught four of those passes for 162 yards and two scores while junior Aidan Wanner caught five balls for 128 yards and a couple scores as well. Junior Treyton Schoch also finished with 10 receptions for 88 yards and a TD. Arnold has passed for 4,162 yards and 41 TDs this year while senior Christian Summerset has rushed for 1,033 yards and 18 TDs.

Small-school perennial power LCC will be gunning for its eighth semistate title and seeks back-to-back appearances in the Class A state title game, with the Knights winning last year’s title in a 29-28 thriller over Indy Lutheran. South Adams will look for its first-ever berth in the state finals, as it hasn’t appeared in a semistate since 2014, a 62-7 loss to Pioneer. The winner of this one will face either No. 5 Covenant Christian (13-0) or No. 4 West Washington (11-0) for the Class 1A state championship.

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