ANDERSON — With one big goal in the history books, the Elwood football team can focus on the top item on its 2013 checklist: Winning its first sectional title in 13 years.
To accomplish that feat, the Panthers (6-3) must survive the area’s most competitive postseason field. Four other members of the Central Indiana Conference are in the Class 2A, Sectional 36 draw. And the race for the championship appears to be wide open.
“A lot of teams feel like they have a chance,” Alexandria coach Pete Gast said. “That’s not always been the case with the sectional.”
Missing a super team from the Indianapolis area, this field has the feel of old friends getting back together.
Elwood and Oak Hill (6-3) are the prohibitive favorites, with the Panthers using a 2-point conversion to win the regular-season meeting 29-28 in overtime on Oct. 4. Gast’s Tigers (6-3) aren’t far behind, losing to Oak Hill 14-7 in overtime on Sept. 20 and falling in a 49-42 thriller against Elwood last week.
Alexandria and record-setting quarterback Blaize Kelly (1,948 yards, 22 touchdowns) open tonight at home against Frankton (1-8). The Eagles lost a CIC battle between the schools 48-14 on Sept. 27 but led early and stayed in the contest throughout the first half.
“We’ve gotta win the first quarter,” Gast said. “We’ll make that our goal, and the rest will fall into place.”
Oak Hill travels to Madison-Grant (3-6) in another CIC first-round rematch. The Argylls hung tight for most of three quarters before falling to the Golden Eagles 48-23 at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sept. 7.
Both teams rely on the running game. Madison-Grant is led by Cam Myers (1,319 rushing yards, 12 touchdowns) and Luke Stroup (941, 17) while Oak Hill answers with Zach Daniels (900, 13) and Derrick Randall (804, 7).
But when it comes to rushing, nobody beats Elwood.
Senior tailback Sammy Mireles surpassed Otis Shannon’s 13-year-old state career rushing record last week and needs 307 yards to become the first player in Indiana history to reach the 8,000 mark.