He has 2,302 yards and 33 touchdowns on 198 carries this season and needs 159 yards to surpass his own single-season school record.
Mireles will chase those yards against a Lapel team that features a similar offensive attack to the one Alexandria used to give the Panthers fits last week.
Junior quarterback Brady Cherry offers a similar passing arm to Kelly and adds a rushing factor. Elwood coach Marty Wells said that will put added stress on his defensive backs, who must stay with their receivers in coverage while remaining aware of Cherry’s penchant to escape the pocket.
Alexandria had success with quick, low-risk passes to keep drives alive and move the chains.
“They did control the clock passing the football,” Lapel coach Tim Miller said after watching tape of the game. “They threw the ball 50-some times (57), but they didn’t get impatient with it. Which is something we’ve struggled with at times this season.”
Elwood is excited about the chance to face an unfamiliar foe. Lapel (3-6) plays a 4-3 defense, and this is the first time the Panthers have faced that scheme this season.
Wells said the Bulldogs are better than their record after playing in the tough Indiana Crossroads Conference.
“They’ve played Speedway, Scecina, Tri-Central, Lutheran, a lot of good teams,” Wells said. “Sometimes records can be deceiving in that regard.”
The Elwood-Lapel winner will meet Alexandria or Frankton in next week’s semifinals, with the Madison-Grant-Oak Hill winner taking on either Eastern (2-7) or Bluffton (4-5) on the other side of the bracket.
However things play out, almost everyone involved is expecting an exciting three-week event.
“I think if you interviewed all eight coaches in the sectional,” Wells said, “all of them except maybe one or two think they have a chance to win it.”