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Teams get their playoff assignments, but coaches still focused on regular season
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Teams get their playoff assignments, but coaches still focused on regular season

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Bill Marshall won’t start game planning for Morton until Saturday morning.

That doesn’t mean the Valparaiso football coach hasn’t already spent time thinking about his sectional opponent this year. The Vikings will open the Class 5A playoffs at home on Friday, Oct. 22 with a game against the Governors, a team that Marshall is already familiar with.

“We’re doing nothing but keeping (regular-season finale opponent) Lake Central in our minds right now,” Marshall said. “We got to see Morton this summer. It worked out that we had an opportunity to see Morton and Munster, and then we played Hammond Central in Week 2. We made sure to pay attention (to our sectional opponents) in the summer.”

Marshall echoed the thoughts of several coaches on Sunday night when he said he watched the IHSAA state playoff draw, but then filed away the results and immediately went back to work on prepping for the Indians.

“We’re focused on Lake Central because we don’t want to drop a Duneland Athletic Conference game with our eyes on the future,” Marshall said. “We’re looking for a chance to finish the regular season 8-1 and then we’ll shift our focus to the postseason. With Morton missing their last couple of games, it makes it difficult to game plan. The experience this summer helped, but we know we’re not anything like we were in the summertime.”

Valparaiso’s lone loss this season is to Merrillville and the Pirates will hope to complete a perfect DAC season this Friday against Chesterton before hosting Crown Point in the Class 6A sectional opener. The Pirates knocked off the Bulldogs 50-13 in Week 3.

“It’s maybe a little too early to worry about (the postseason) since we’re still looking to close out the regular season with a DAC championship,” Merrillville coach Brad Seiss said. “Once Friday is over, we know that none of that matters and it’s on to the second season. Crown Point is now in their 10th game of the year under new leadership, so we know they’ll look nothing like they did in Week 3.”

The Pirates (8-0) have won each of their games by an average of 30 points and they’ve given up just two touchdowns in the last two weeks combined.

“My biggest concern is that we’ve won all of our games in pretty convincing fashion and we want to know what happens in the tournament when you turn the ball over a few times and you get down,” Seiss said. “We know that it’s going to happen at some point and we want to see how the kids face that kind of adversity.”

Hobart’s path back to the Class 4A state title game will begin with a home game against Griffith. The Brickies went on the road to beat the Panthers 49-13 in Week 3. The winner will get a home game against EC Central while the winner of Lowell and Highland will take on West Side on the other side of the Sectional 17 bracket.

Perhaps the most intriguing Region matchup in the opening week of the postseason comes from Class 2A Sectional 33 where Wheeler will travel to Andrean. The Bearcats (5-2) upset Andrean 12-7 in the 2011 postseason. The 59ers have won two sectional games over Wheeler since that loss, scoring at least 63 points in each victory.

“We’ve got a big game coming up against Lowell, so we haven’t thought a lot about Wheeler yet,” Andrean coach Chris Skinner said. “We never underestimate anybody, especially when it comes to our conference opponents. The next game is always our focus and we’ll shift to Wheeler when the time is right.”

Football recap: Crown Point hits milestone and Hanover Central's aerial attack on display

Here's a look back at what transpired on the gridiron around the Region Friday.


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Paul Oren has been a correspondent reporter for The Times since 2005. A member of the United States Basketball Writers Association, Paul has spent more than 15 years covering Valparaiso basketball.

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