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October 17, 2012

H.S. FOOTBALL PICKS: Start of sectional wipes slate clean

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — There is no more exciting time of the year than the Indiana High School football tournament.

With it comes the chance for teams to put a disappointing season behind them and for teams with high expectations to fulfill them.

Winning a conference championship, having a winning season — or even going unbeaten — none of its really matters when the tournament starts.

This is what it’s all about. Ask any high school coach and he’ll tell you, winning a conference championship pales in comparison to a successful tournament run.

And it all begins on Friday. Blind draws bring some great first-round matchups, like New Albany-Jeffersonville, and some duds, like Charlestown-Mitchell.

The saying goes that you can throw out the records when the tournament begins. While that’s obviously not the case, the playoffs can provide some seriously compelling storylines.

Here’s a look at how I see the first round of the local sectional tournaments playing out.

CLASS 5A SECTIONAL 8

• At Jeffersonville 37, New Albany 24: Any time the Devils and Bulldogs get together, it’s an event. The sport doesn’t even matter. It could be hopscotch.

But when it’s Jeff-New Albany playoff football, it’s more special.

Jeff beat the Bulldogs 49-12 just three weeks ago. However, the scene seems to have shifted a bit since the first meeting.

The Devils were blown out by Columbus East — granted, in a rain storm — then gave up 47 points to one-win Jennings County in the two week’s following their win over New Albany. The Bulldogs dropped a two-point decision to Seymour — a game in which they came back from 19-0 down to take the lead — before beating rival Floyd Central in overtime last week.

I’m not gutsy enough to pick the upset, but I can see it as a possibility. I can’t imagine myself thinking that just three weeks ago.

• Castle 28, at Floyd Central 6: As coach Brian Glesing predicted, his Highlander team is playing its best football at the end of the season.

Unfortunately, so is Castle. The Knights went through a very tough Southern Indiana Conference schedule unscathed and they’re coming off a 56-17 shellacking of defending 3A sectional champion Evansville Memorial.

Castle has a high-powered offense and its defense is strong enough to give Floyd fits.

• At Bedford North Lawrence 54, Jennings County 7: When Bedford started 0-4, few believed that the Stars would stay down for long.

Bret Szabo does a remarkable job at BNL and this year has been no exception. In fact, this is one of his best coaching jobs yet. After starting 0-4, the Stars won four straight, including a 44-0 win over Jennings.

Then they had a chance to knock off Class 4A No. 1 Columbus East last week. A late turnover doomed them to a 35-31 loss. The defending Sectional 8 champions will have no trouble moving on.

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