When Tipton quarterback Austin Hooker went down with a broken arm in Week 2, the Blue Devils had to adjust their season goals.
Three straight losses to Rensselaer Central (9-7), West Lafayette (34-10) and Lafayette Central Catholic (14-7) left the team at 3-3. Hooker returned in Week 7 and Tipton appears to be rolling again, having won three straight against Sheridan, Twin Lakes and Delphi. The Class 2A No. 7-ranked Devils didn’t expect to enter postseason play with three losses, but at the end of the day, a shot at a fourth straight sectional title still has a chance to become a reality with Hooker back under center.
“We have dealt with a lot of adversity this year but I’d like to think we’ve overcome it,” Tipton coach Aaron Tolle said. “When Austin got hurt we put a positive spin on it. We challenged ourselves to get better defensively, in the kicking game and on the offensive line. We felt like if we got better in those areas, once we got Austin back we’d be that much better. Some of that has happened, and some of those questions are yet to be answered. We’re staring two really tough teams in the face so those questions will get answered in the next couple weekends.”
Tipton hosts Cass (5-4) tonight at 7 p.m. in the start of Sectional 35 play, a Kings’ squad Tolle and the Blue Devils know well. Cass is the last team to hand Tipton a sectional loss, topping the Devils 15-0 in a rainy, windy sectional semifinal contest in Walton in 2009. The Kings went on to claim the sectional crown.
“You don’t have to watch film to know that Cass is a team that’s extremely disciplined and well-coached,” Tolle said. “Coach [Scott] Mannering is one of the best coaches in the state, probably a hall of famer down the road. This is a huge challenge for us as a coaching staff. They’re one of those programs that regardless of the amount of talent, they will be extremely competitive and be winners and not beat themselves. You’re going to have to go out and beat them. We can’t afford to make mistakes and give them opportunities to win. It’s just a huge challenge.”