PH, Lapel to play rivals in first-round sectional games

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20210819tp arabians football Kenny Humphrey | For The Times-Post

SOUTH MADISON COUNTY — When Pendleton Heights and Lapel open the IHSAA Football Sectional on Oct. 22, they will both be playing on the road.
Their trips will both be familiar ones, and quick ones, too.
In Class 4A Sectional 21, Pendleton Heights will open at nearby Hancock County rival Mt. Vernon.
In Class 2A Sectional 36, Lapel will visit school-district cohort Frankton.
While travel time may be similar, the first-round tasks ahead couldn’t be more contrasting.
In opening against the Marauders, Pendleton Heights (4-4) will be taking on Class 4A’s fifth-ranked team. Mt. Vernon is 7-1 and has won seven straight since losing the season opener against Class 6A Noblesville.
It’ll be the second meeting of the season. At Fortville on Sept. 24, the Arabians lost 43-0.
“Last time we played them, they’re as good a team as I’ve seen since I’ve been (at Pendleton Heights),” Arabians head coach Jed Richman said. “They are talented, explosive, well-coached. We have to keep focusing on ourselves and play as well as we can. That’s the goal. We’ve got to stay strong and disciplined, do what we’re supposed to do.
“I’m excited for the draw. You have to play them at some point. They’re a rival, and we have to go back down to their place. It’s going to be a dogfight, and I’m looking forward to it.”
It’s hard not to find a rivalry game in Sectional 21. Five of the eight teams are members of the Hoosier Heritage Conference. In fact, the bottom half of the bracket is all HHC.
Along with the Arabians-Marauders matchup, Greenfield-Central (5-3) visits New Castle (2-6), the same team and place it will finish the regular season with this Friday.
The bottom half also includes the tournament’s winningest teams.
In the upper portion of the bracket, teams have a combined record of 4-25. Richmond (1-7) will travel to Shelbyville (1-4), Pendleton Heights’ HHC opponent this week; and Muncie Central (1-7) visits Connersville (1-7).
For Lapel, the Bulldogs will be looking for their 13th straight win against Frankton. On Aug. 27, Lapel (6-2) beat Frankton (2-6), at home, 49-12.
It’s the third time in the last four years the Bulldogs and Eagles have been drawn as first-round sectional opponents.
Four of the eight teams in Sectional 36 have winning records, and two are ranked among the Top 10 in the Indiana Football Coaches Association Class 2A poll.
Three of the four winning records are in the bracket’s top half. Eastern (Greentown) is 6-2 and will be on the road at unbeaten No. 2 Eastbrook (7-0). The winner will play the Lapel-Frankton victor.
“It’s amazing how coincidental those ping-pong balls are,” Lapel coach Tim Miller said of its commonly drawn first-round opponent. “Obviously, we’re familiar with each other and played this season. It will be our first time we’ve played on their new field.
“If we’re lucky enough to get past Round 1, I think more than likely Eastbrook would be the opponent,” Miller added. “They’re one of the best teams in the state. They’re going to fight like crazy. We’ve played them a couple of times in the regional a few years ago, and they are a very good ballclub.”
Eastbrook has won all of its games by 35 points or more and has outscored opponents 345-32.
No. 4 Tipton has the only winning record in the bottom half of the bracket. The Blue Devils are 7-1 and will play host to Blackford (1-6). Two Madison County schools round out the eight-team field. Alexandria (3-4) is scheduled to visit Elwood (0-7).