On selection Sunday, Morton coach Sean Kinsey gathered his team together for a watch party at their high school.
As his players and coaching staff hung out and waited for the IHSAA to announce their Class 4A sectional opener, Kinsey said their team bonding also served as a milestone for the senior class and his coaching career. He took over the program four years ago, and following a 4-7 season in 2016, the Governors have won at least a share of the last three Great Lakes Athletic Conference championships and are hungry for more.
Last year, Morton was narrowly defeated in the sectional title game vs. Lowell. This season, the team’s quest for its first sectional championship since 2012 starts Oct. 25 at home against Hobart. The Brickies have already earned at least a share of the Northwest Crossroads Conference title, and Kinsey is certain that the Governors — led by their seniors — will be ready for the challenge.
“A lot of these guys were freshmen when I first got here, and they’ve been building to be at this point where we’re rolling and a good football team,” Kinsey said. “For them, it’s that time.”
Morton has won seven consecutive games, and its only loss came in Week 1 when starting quarterback Credell Prather Jr. injured his (right) throwing wrist against Highland. Kinsey said Prather, who had been sidelined for six weeks, was cleared for practice last week and will play in Friday’s senior night game against Clark.
After seeing Prather go down on Aug. 23, Kinsey said he is grateful the senior will have the opportunity to come back and contribute to what has been a special year so far.
“When Credell took his fall in Week 1, that shocked everybody, and we just had to deal with it in that moment,” Kinsey said. “But now that he’s back, these guys have big goals and it’s to be down there playing in Indy.”
Tough draw for Merrillville
Points are not a problem for Lafayette Jefferson.
The Bronchos opened the year with a season-high 74 points in a win over West Lafayette and are averaging a staggering 55.6 points per game during their undefeated season.
Merrillville coach Brad Seiss said it will take a strong effort from his defense to limit Lafayette Jefferson’s high-powered offense on Nov. 1 and the extra week between the Pirates’ final regular-season game and their Class 6A sectional opener will be crucial.
“It’s exciting that we get to host them at our place,” Seiss said. “Coach (Pat) Shanley has done a really good job at Lafayette Jeff since he’s been there. They do a lot of things really well offensively, but also defensively. I’ve even seen some of the stuff they do in the weight room.”
After a senior night matchup with Chesterton in the regular-season finale, Seiss expects his team to be fully focused on the Bronchos — especially considering the gut-wrenching loss the Pirates had against Valparaiso.
The one-point defeat all but squashed the Pirates’ preseason goal of winning the Duneland Athletic Conference championship. Seiss has encouraged his players to use it as a reminder of just how fragile one game and an overall season can be.
“The big thing that we wanted to really learn from that is staying in that pain and everything that we felt from losing that close against a really good team," Seiss said. "Hopefully they can use that as motivation for the tournament because obviously you would trade that loss for the chance to make a deep run."
New class, no worries for Andrean
For the past two years, Andrean has faced the same roadblock in the postseason.
The 59ers were sent home by West Lafayette with a pair of lopsided defeats in the sectional championship. However, this year they won’t have to take on the defending Class 3A state champions.
After moving down to Class 2A, Andrean opens up sectional play Oct. 25 on the road against Bowman. Though the Eagles are 3-5 and haven't won a sectional in program history, 59ers coach Chris Skinner isn't overlooking them.
“We have a system in terms of our preparation, coaching standpoint and how we prepare for a team and how we gather film and how (the coaching staff) meets on Sunday evenings,” Skinner said. “It doesn’t really matter who we’re playing or what class. We do the same thing every week."