It’s football sectional time, as hard as that is to believe.
Batesville’s Bulldogs compete in Class 3A, Sectional 31, while Oldenburg Academy is part of Class A, Sect. 47.
Temperatures are expected to be in the 40s, overcast with a tiny chance of precipitation.
Batesville (3-6) at Rushville (1-8)
If going chalk on this one, you’d have to move Batesville ahead in your brackets.
Sure, the visiting Lions had BHS on the ropes with under two minutes to go back in September. But that was prior to a game-winning drive orchestrated by sophomore quarterback Travis Lecher.
Since that night, each Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference team has won just one game – both coming against a Connersville team currently on a 23-game losing streak.
But Rushville has lost four straight by an average of 25.5 points. While Batesville lost their quartet by an average of 16, the Dogs had 4th-quarter leads against Lawrenceburg, Greensburg and Franklin County – all teams with winning marks.
The Lions gave the QB reins this year to freshman Austin Vance, who’s managed his position with 7 TDs and just 5 INTs.
The Bulldogs were sectional runners-up to Brownstown a year ago and hope to return to the finals, which would be at the Dawg Pound.
Sectional outlook: Each of the teams in the lower-half draw of Sect. 31 feels it could still be alive for the championship game Nov. 8. The tournament’s three heavyweights reside in the upper bracket, meaning two will be eliminated by this time next week. The premier opening matchup is 9-0 Brownstown Central (3rd in final AP poll) at 7-2 Charlestown. Scottsburg (3-6) visits Lawrenceburg (8-1; No. 9-ranked). The winner of Franklin County and Greensburg (both 5-4) will face Batesville or Rushville.
Game time: Oct. 25, 7 p.m., Hinshaw Stadium. $6
Coaches: Evan Ulery, 24-18 in 4th year at Batesville. Dan Rector, 6-13 in 2nd year at Rushville.
Sagarin ratings: Batesville, 35.76, 194th overall, 39th in 3A. Rushville, 21.7, 245th overall, 48th in 3A.
Last outing: Batesville defeated Connersville, 42-13. Rushville lost to Greensburg, 37-8.
Vs. common foes: Batesville 1-5; Rushville 1-5.
Opponents’ records: Batesville 43-38. Rushville 42-39.
Series last 35 years: Batesville, 15-8
Last meeting: Batesville, 25-20, Sep. 13, 2019.
Oldenburg Academy (4-4) at Hagerstown (3-6)
Same draw, different year.
Just over 365 days removed from a muddy sectional loss at the hands of Hagerstown, head coach Eric Feller and the Twisters return to western Wayne County looking for their first postseason win in four seasons.
OA was unable to dent the scoreboard against the Tigers a year ago. It won’t be much easier this time, as HHS owns two shutout wins and has a respectable 18.9 defensive average. Conversely, Hagerstown’s offense can be AWOL at times; the team was blanked by Knightstown, Centerville and Winchester and scores at an 11.8 clip.
Junior Noah Snodgrass takes snaps for the Tigers. He’s thrown 8 TDs and 9 interceptions. Senior Camden Rhoades leads an anemic rushing attack with 240 yards, though a good 6.3 average. Three receivers have 20-plus catches; senior Braden Himelick has turned 5 of his into scores.
Leading HHS tacklers are senior Matt Brown and junior Dominic Anderson. Himelick has 6 picks and senior Jaylon Favorite 7 sacks.
Junior Dominic McFee and senior Abe Peetz are the bell cows for OA, combining for over 1,000 yards rushing and 11 TDs. Senior Matt Sedler has 12 catches and 3 TDs from freshman Rhett Martin, while pacing the defense with 60 tackles.
Hagerstown finished in the bottom half of the Tri-Eastern Conference, while the Twisters placed third among six Mid-Indiana Football Conference schools.
Feller seeks his first sectional win as head of the Twisters.
(Directions: Fans should allow one hour, 20 minutes to Hagerstown. Follow Hwy. 229 north to U.S. 52. Turn left on 52 westbound. Turn right on Hwy. 121 northbound, follow to Connersville. Follow Western Ave., which becomes IN-1 north. Drive past Cambridge City and I-70, turn left on IN-38 west. In less than a mile, turn right on N. Sycamore St.)
Sectional outlook: North Decatur (No. 7) is a heavy favorite to run through the bottom portion of the bracket in Sect. 47. Steve Stirn’s 8-1 Chargers host 2-7 Cambridge City Lincoln in the opener, then would entertain a 5-win school in rival South Decatur or Tri High. Milan, moved down from Class 2A, is a strong 7-2 but has to tangle with 6-3 Knightstown on the road. The winner would go to Hagerstown or face Oldenburg at a neutral site.
Game time: Oct. 25, 7 p.m., Cory Field. $6
Coaches: Eric Feller, 8-10 in 2nd year at Oldenburg. Scott Snodgrass, 54-42 in 9th year at Hagerstown, 63-102 in 16th year overall.
Sagarin ratings: Hagerstown, 15.65, 268th overall, 38th in 1A. Oldenburg, 7.3, 293rd overall, 47th in 1A.
Last outing: Oldenburg lost to Covenant Christian, 46-0. Hagerstown lost to Northeastern, 18-12.
Opponents’ records: Oldenburg 34-37. Hagerstown 39-42.
Series last 35 years: Hagerstown, 1-0
Last meeting: Hagerstown, 14-0, Oct. 19, 2018, sectional.