On paper, No. 8-ranked Tri-Central is a heavy favorite against Clinton Prairie in tonight’s Class A Sectional 44 final. The Trojans are 10-1 while the Gophers are 5-6. Plus, the Trojans crushed the Gophers 54-0 in Hoosier Heartland Conference play during Week 4 of the regular season.
Of course, No. 2-ranked North Vermillion was a heavy favorite against Attica in a Class A Sectional 47 semifinal game last week. North Vermillion was undefeated and had beaten Attica 52-16 during Week 6 of the regular season. What happened in the rematch? Attica pulled off a 13-7 upset.
“We definitely aren’t looking past [Prairie]. You look at North Vermillion and Martinsville, both those teams had huge victories during the year [over sectional opponents] and then got beat in the tournament. You just never know in the tournament,” Gilbert said. “Obviously it’s a better position to be in when you had success against a team, but you just have to go out and go to work and that’s what we plan to do.”
Tri-Central is shooting for its second sectional title and first since 1991.
TC stormed into the sectional final by whipping nine-time Class A state champion Sheridan 35-7 last week.
“I think we played about as near-perfect game as we could for a high school football team. We didn’t have any fumbles, we had very few penalties, we moved the ball well and our defense played just outstanding,” Gilbert said. “Sheridan is an awfully good team. Their [5-6] record doesn’t indicate it, but you have to look at who they’ve played, and in Class A they are very good.”
Clinton Prairie endured a six-game losing streak during the regular season. The Gophers have followed with four straight wins, including wins over Indiana Deaf (43-6) and Indianapolis Shortridge (52-50) in sectional play.
“As we are jelling right now, so is Clinton Prairie,” Gilbert said. “Offensively, they’ve averaged around 40 points a game the last four weeks. Thjeir fullback [junior Nik Royer] is about a 255-pound kid and we haven’t played against anybody that size. He got hurt [in the first quarter] the last time we played them. He has been on a roll for them.