RPI: Playoff Edition, Predicting the sectionals
This is my favorite time of the year for the RPI. Not only are we predicting games, we’re also predicting sectional winners. We’ll take into account matchups along the road and determine the winners of three different sectionals. Lets get after it.
5A Sectional 16
The two favorites in this four team sectional collide in the opener after a bye this week. Terre Haute North and Castle come into this one with winning records. At 7-2, Terre Haute North is having their best season since before any of their players were born. Castle sits at 6-3 on the year, and I’m sure that opening week beat down they received from the Patriots is fresh in their mind.
Ricky Brookins and Kai Stratton have proved to be nearly unstoppable all season long. I don’t know why that would change in the sectional. These two remind me of those New York Giant backfields of the early 2000’s with Tiki Barber and Brandon Jacobs.
Brookins, like Barber, is shifty and explosive. He sees the play develop and accelerates through the hole for huge gains. Stratton, like Jacobs, provides the boom. He runs hard and powerful in a downhill style that’s a great compliment to Brookins. You never know what these Patriots are going to hit you with, but at 37 points per game, you know they’re coming with something. The run game is a big part of that.
On the other side of the bracket, Terre Haute South knows they can play with Evansville North. The Braves lost in the first week of the season, but things are different now. South showed signs of a significant turnaround until they were riddled with injury and ended up finishing 2-7. One of those wins was a huge upset over Terre Haute North, so these Braves are capable of knocking off great teams. Evansville North isn’t a great team, I look for Logan Deady to have a day on the ground against the smaller opponent.
A North-South rematch in the championship would sure be fun wouldn’t it? I can see it happening here. I also see the Patriots remembering what happened the first time around, and not letting that happen again. Terre Haute North has the pieces to make a deep, deep run. I don’t see the bus stopping in sectionals.
Pick: Terre Haute North
Class A Sectional 47
We move it down to Class A to find more teams that could make a deep run, and we find all kinds of them. The Wabash Valley is loaded with “A” schools capable of winning a sectional. Many of those teams are shipped to the same sectional and that’s sectional 47. This bracket is loaded with good teams.
Poor Rockville. The Rox put together a very solid 6-3 campaign. If the playoffs were seeded, they would likely be at home as the “4” seed in this bracket hosting the “5” seed Attica. Instead we leave the fate up to an old fashion bingo machine and the Rox get to travel to undefeated North Vermillion to get things going. To Rockville’s credit, they did at least slow down the Falcons offensive attack early when they met in the regular season before eventually falling 39-0. Amazingly, that’s closer than the Falcons average victory. At better than 45 points per game, they have the largest margin in the state. Rarely did star quarterback Brayden Woodard and tailback Jacob Earl play in the second half. This is one potent unit.
One game that does match up nicely is a probably semi-final matchup between Fountain Central and North Central. Fountain Central is having a great season, but once again the bracket favors North Central. Both of these teams open with games they should walk through with their eyes closed. North Central travels in week one while the Mustangs stay home. The T-Birds will host in round two and that could make the difference. North Central showed a different element to their offense by going to Chase Van Schoyck in the air against Linton. If that game ended at halftime North Central would’ve edged the top ranked Miners. It was much closer than the final score indicated. The T-Birds showed they could hang at least for a half with the Miners and Fountain Central is no Linton. I think the T-Birds pull the upset and get to the title game.
That’s where we could see a North Central-North Vermillion rematch. That’s a game both teams would be geared up for. Coach Crabtree coached this star studded North Central senior class as freshman when he was at the helm of the T-Birds. It was a good game the last time these two teams played before the Falcons pulled away in the 4th quarter. Coach Nolting and company would love another shot at knocking off the mighty Falcons. It’s going to be tough, because the game plan to get through Fountain Central the week before will be grueling. That’s a semi-final game that should be incredibly physical, so the T-Birds might come away with a few more bumps and bruises going into the championship. The Falcons haven’t scored less than 37 all season. That was against North Central. The North Vermillion defense doesn’t get enough credit. They held a North Central team that scored 93 in a game this season to just 7 when they met the first time. The Falcons will win what is arguably the toughest Class A sectional in the state.
Pick: North Vermillion
Class A Sectional 48
This sectional is Linton’s to lose. The Miners looked mortal in the last game of the season for a half, then without their starting quarterback they came out and blitzed North Central to come away with a big win.
Where it gets interesting is the bottom half of the bracket. North Knox and North Daviess could square off again in round 2. The Cougars and Warriors had an instant double overtime classic a couple weeks ago. That rivalry souped up by a playoff atmosphere would be fun. North Knox has to go through a talented Perry Central team to make that happen. Perry is probably the favorite to play Linton in the finals, but I don’t like their chances. I think North Knox gives them all they want in the first game of the sectional. With that game being so close, both teams might be too worn down to contain the freight train that is Colton Lengacher. The Cougar offensive centerpiece will run wild to get North Daviess into the finals.
Like most years, Linton should run through sectionals again. They should get Dane Rupska healthy by week 2. He’s a major factor on both sides of the ball, but especially at quarterback from the middle linebacker spot.
North Daviess and Linton in the finals will be fun, but the Miners have their eyes on a state championship.
Sectional football is a great time of year. With lots of teams competitive enough to make a deep run, it should be another fun month of football. Until next time, I’ll see you at the game.