MIDDLETOWN — The current senior class at Shenandoah never has experienced a football season that ended before the sectional championship round.
On Friday, the Raiders (9-2) will make their fourth consecutive Class 2A sectional title game appearance by hosting Indianapolis Scecina (9-2). Shenandoah is 1-2 in its previous championship tries, with the victory coming in thrilling fashion last season against Heritage Christian at Dale Green Field.
John Harrell’s highly respected high school football website anticipates another close game, predicting the visiting Crusaders will pull out a 35-28 victory. Scott Widner has won 56 games in his six seasons as head coach of the Raiders, and he’s not making any predictions.
He’s just happy to have another big game coming up.
“Most of our kids are still excited about playing football,” Widner said. “We’re excited to play another game this week.”
After a slow start last week, Shenandoah rolled past rival Knightstown 40-20 to set up the showdown with Scecina. The Crusaders, who finished as Class A state runners-up in each of the past two seasons before moving up a class because of the IHSAA’s new success factor, advanced with a 48-8 victory against Winchester last week.
The Raiders played a pair of Indianapolis-area teams recently, losing to Cardinal Ritter 63-35 in the regular season finale and trouncing Broad Ripple 49-6 in the sectional opener. Those teams both are led by their quarterbacks, with Jake Purichia chasing state passing records at Ritter and C.J. Shittu providing a dual threat as a passer and rusher at Broad Ripple.
Scecina has a more balanced squad with weapons all over the field. The Crusaders average 34.9 points per game and allow just 11.7. They’ve scored at least 48 points in each of the past three games and have allowed 20 or more points just three times all year.
“It’s definitely to our advantage that we’ve played a couple of really good football teams this year,” Widner said. “In the past, when we’ve played in the sectional title game, we’ve been kind of shocked by the speed and physicality of the game.”