“They’re very solid,” Mannering said of Tipton. “They have a really good nucleus of players. They obviously throw it well and run the ball extremely well also, so it’ll be tough to defend everything. It’s a big challenge for us obviously. Western ran the ball on us very well and we have to improve that. At the same time, we have to be able to cover the deep receivers. Defensively it’s a big challenge, so we have to play extremely well on the offensive side and on special teams.”
Tipton boasts an area-best eight sectional championships, with Cass a close second with seven titles.
The Tipton-Cass winner will face the winner of the North Putnam (1-8) at No. 2 Central Catholic (8-1) contest next week.
SOUTHMONT (3-6) at TAYLOR (0-9)
In another Sectional 35 first-round contest, the Titans host a Mounties squad (7 p.m.) that is dealing with the loss of starting quarterback Devon Burton. Sophomore Jarrett Todd will start in his place and direct Southmont’s option offense, which is led by running back Nathaniel Farabee, who has 170 carries for 818 yards and seven TDs on the season.
The Titans are looking to snap a 25-game losing streak.
”I’ve been impressed, particularly this week, with the extra bounce we have in our step,” Taylor coach Eric Davis said. “Everyone makes a big deal about going into the tourney 0-0, and there’s no doubt our kids have taken to that mentality. It’s really shown up in practice.”
Running back Dayne Tomlinson leads the Titans with 135 carries for 535 yards and 10 TDs. QB Jordon Lazaro is 47 of 142 through the air for 460 yards, four TDs and seven interceptions. Darian Stone is the team’s leading receiver with 10 catches for 186 yards and three TDs.
“It’s critical for one team to come out and set the tempo of the game, and we certainly want that to be us,” Davis said. “Getting the ball rolling in the positive direction is huge for us. We have to be able to maintain possession and drive the ball to move the ball consistently. That’s our best defense, having our offense on the field.”